Day's Miles = 44.5
Average Speed = 8.4 mph
Maximum Speed = 35.8 mph
Total Miles = 301.2
It was hard to leave the Cookie Lady's bike house as I kept seeing "one more thing" hanging on the walls that would entice me to stand and read. Eventually I got packed up and moved my bike outside. Just as I was locking up the main entrance, Mrs. Curry came along to wish me a good morning. We talked a little while about her family and how hard it is for her to be alone these days, and then I bid her farewell after promising to write.
Two miles after leaving Afton I rode onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway links Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park and gave me breathtaking views of the Southern Appalachians. For the most part I climbed all day, with a few rapid descents between peaks. It amazes me how I can be zooming downhill at 30 mph, swing from a descent to an ascent, and be struggling uphill at 4 mph all within 30 seconds.
In addition to the hard climbs of today, I also ran into my first hard rainstorms. I'd had a few sprinkles before that didn't do much more than cool me off, but twice during the day the sky broke open and poured water down upon me. Naturally, I'm carrying some rain gear, so I unpacked my rain jacket and wore it for the rest of the day. The part I hadn't anticipated was my glasses fogging up from the humidity so badly that I was better off not wearing them at all.
Although descents are supposedly one of the most enjoyable parts of cycling, I'm beginning to resent them a little bit. It doesn't seem fair to struggle with climbing all day long, only to throw away my hard earned elevation for the sake of a downhill run. I could easily have broken 40 mph on the 2,000 foot descent into Vesuvius, but the road was long and winding and still wet from the earlier storms so I used my brakes to keep my speed moderate. When I finally stopped I checked my wheel rims out of curiosity and found that they were too hot to touch from all the hard braking.
I had a quick dinner of a country ham sandwich Gertie's Store in Vesuvius, and then rode a few more miles to stop for the night at the Mallard Duck Hostel. For five dollars I got a bed for the night and a roof over my head, and I can't think of much more that I would have needed.