Day 138 • July 17, 2012 • Lexington to Love, VA • 39 miles
The original plan was to spend last night near Vesuvius so we could start the day with the big climb onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. Yesterday’s fun added about 20 miles of gradual climbing before we hit the big hill. Instead of camping at Vesuvius we just ate there, fuelling up and psyching up at Gertie’s Country Store. Gertie is an icon on the TransAm trail and she still cranks out some good food. The walls of the diner are covered in signatures from customers, a high percentage touring cyclists. The walls were pretty full and we couldn’t reach the ceiling so Zoe added ours to the window blind on the door. Gertie has been avoiding some remodeling because she doesn’t want to lose all the signatures.
The meat of the hill was 1500 feet in about three miles. This didn’t seem so bad but it was the last point in the trip that had the potential to be steeper than we could crank; after that it was down the other side into a relatively flat tidal plain. I needn’t have worried. It was definitely a grind and a couple of the switchbacks were graded more like steps than ramps, but it was nothing we hadn’t seen before. There were two strikes against us though—the temperatures were creeping back up into the mid-90’s and that foot soreness I developed a few days ago was back. Once on top of the ridge we enjoyed the view and eventually worked our way to a campsite at Royal Oaks Cabins in Love.