10.28.2014

Old Iron Run: Solo Ride Home

My head felt better laying on a full size pillow, brand new to boot, inside my cocoon. In about nine hours or so, I would know if I would be riding home in sunshine or rain; I knew with certainty that I would not be camping in Virginia with my family. It seems as though Baby-doll was pretty sick and I was only marginally better. So, now what? Sleep took over and I never had an oprotunity to answer that question.
I could hear a faint, muffled sound next to my tent, okay that is JT breaking camp and loading up! I'd better get my butt in gear! My groggy head broke the plane of the tent entrance and I saw that the only sunshine was inside me and not peeking out through the North Carolina forest, in fact I really could not see the ridge line since it was shrouded in rabbit-gray clouds. Attempting to ride the Parkway in the current atmospheric conditions would be a very poor choice since it most certainly would be blanketed in fog! So, plan "B" could be to ride US 220 up through Old Dominion. JT did not have a long southern ride, I had at least a 400 plus mile ride north but the big question was who would remain the driest?
We left the ATGAT stormtroppers behind and made our way out to US 276. Well, it did not take long for the spritz to start but I ignored it and hoped that it would not amount to anything more than just an annoying spritz! I felt confident enough to break-out my camera to snap a few pictures...



before the fury of the rain descended upon us! So, my brand-new-not-even-24 hours-old-Coleman rain-suit would be tested, tested by a full on sustained, torrential downpour! Yes! Ironically enough JT and I parted ways last year in rain! Well, so much for taking the scenic route home, heck, I wasn't so sure how far I would travel today before calling it a day! Leaving North Carolina was like riding into a waterfall! I finally said enough and decided that as soon as I could locate a place to eat I was going to stop and fill up on food just so my body would have calories to keep me warm! Somewhere north of Asheville, I pulled off the super-slab and located a huge grocery store in a strip mall. The rain was relentless even as I secured Ole Girl in the parking lot. I waltzed into the store and acted like there was nothing amiss despite the fact rain water was running off of my new rain-suit. I found a food bar which contained hot chicken noodle soup; I bought the biggest size container available and consumed ALL of the hot soup! Ole Girl and I continued our soggy slog north. The liquid sunshine seemed to slow down a considerable amount as we sliced-off the northeastern tip of the Volunteer State. With the Bristol Speedway in my rear-view mirror, we crossed over into Old Dominion and the rain seemed to come to an end-Ha! Just kidding! The showers continued to saturate us as we entered the Virginia rest-welcome. Riding in the rain is very draining! My inexpensive rain-suit was holding up pretty good, but riding in the rain is physically and mentally draining! We pressed on north and briefly exited the super-slab in order to find out if US 11 would be a viable route-it was not! A slow long ride in the rain isn't much better, perhaps worse, than a quick sustained slog on the super-slab! My surroundings seemed to have taken on a dismal prison-gray pallor. Even the gas station in Blacksburg seemed to have that washed-out colorless look that Iraq had. Standing in front of the gas station I placed a call to home-where my mind was. I ignored the looks of the patrons as they walked passed me in and out of the dimly lit gas station; I confered with my bride who confirmed what I was thinking: tie-up in Winchester for the night and get a good solid night of sleep and a hot shower. You bet babe! And so the ride continued on '81 north. I was very greatfull that the rain seemed to be spent once I entered the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley. Ole Girl and I were able to relax since the rain left us somewhere around Lexington. The sun in the west was pushing the dismal gray rain to the east and soon enough the late afternoon sun had the hues of golden wheat. Ole Girl and I pulled off the super-slab in order to find out where our lodging would be for the night. The missus and I figured that  Candlewood  Suites would be the best bet. Ole Girl and I jumped back on the super-slab for a quick blast north to our exit. Ten minutes later we were in the lap of luxery! All of my wet gear was hauled up to my room and laid out to dry. The only other business I needed to tend to was dinner. Los Toltecos  was within easy walking distance thus my last day on the road was completed with a Mexican dinner, a very excellent way to close it out a long soggy day!

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