Thursday, 17 May 2012

Wytheville, VA

How I felt today

Perhaps I should have taken a rest day in Radford. Today I had no energy. My legs ached with every uphill pedal stroke. I stopped frequently to rest, drink and snack. By happy chance, at one of these stops, two TransAmers I had not met before, Ed and Jill, caught up with me. Ed is from Alabama, Jill from Virginia, and Ed's wife Cathy is driving a support vehicle. They'd heard about me from the British trio. Naturally, being without panniers, they were faster than me, and all the more so as I was having a bad day. Nevertheless, we found ourselves together quite often on the way to Wytheville. Maybe they were deliberately hanging back in case I needed assistance. If so, I am very grateful as their destination for the day was at Troutdale, further on than mine. At one point, we found a store and sat around a table for a while. After consuming a Gatorade and pastry, I felt a little stronger.

Jill and Ed
Adventure Cycling did another great job in mapping a route without traffic. Of today's 67 km, only the last sixteen had any significant motor traffic – but that consisted largely of container trucks. Either Wytheville (population 7,700) has a huge quantity of deliveries or the trucks were taking a short cut somewhere. Right at the end, I saw the motel I had booked into, ahead at the top of a hill. Nearly done! I just had to get there. Gasping up that last hill, I heard a container truck revving its engine close behind me. It couldn't get past and I couldn't get off the road to let it through as I had done with others earlier. Eventually we both got where we wanted to go.

Earlier, soon after leaving Radford, I saw one of those small deer I mentioned yesterday running towards me on the opposite side of the road. It was trying to escape a following car, which must have slowed to avoid hitting it. At last, the deer found a way off the road. I noted the spot and when I reached it looked for the deer. I saw nothing but heard a crashing in the undergrowth.

I had hoped to ride to Damascus tomorrow and possibly have a rest day there. It is situated on the Appalachian Trail and looks an interesting small place (pop. 1,000). However, Jill told me that the third weekend in May – beginning tomorrow – is the annual Trail Days festival in Damascus, when thousands of AT hikers and former hikers pour into town. Accommodation will be scarce to non-existent although she thought I would find a small space for my tent. I think I'll wait till I get to Troutdale tomorrow, 59 km from where I am now, mainly uphill. If I'm feeling strong I'll go on to Damascus, a further 40 km, much of it downhill. Otherwise, I may stay the night in Troutdale.

Garmin Oregon 450 - failed after one week
There is another reason why today was not my best of the trip. My GPS receiver ceased to function. At the end of yesterday's ride, I had difficulty turning it off. This morning it wouldn't turn on. The batteries were newly recharged but I swapped them for fresh ones. It still wouldn't go on. I think the problem lies with a faulty power button. If I remember correctly, I bought the unit late last year from Wiggle, a well-regarded internet retailer of cycling kit based in the UK. I used it maybe 10-20 times in Australia then every day last week. It's disappointing that control of manufacturing quality is so poor. These hi-tech products are nothing if they're not reliable. Fortunately, I have the paper maps and, in Virginia, the Rt 76 road signs. But I valued the GPS information and will miss it. If among my readers there is someone knowledgeable about the Garmin Oregon 450 who is able to advise me what I can usefully do with it, other than jettison it to reduce weight, I would be grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad you GPS died. I have an older Garmin and use it every time I ride. Too bad I just discovered your blog, I live about 10 minutes from Bike Beat in Newport News.