You Never Know When Your Plans Are Going Off The Rails

Posted By From On High
Date Thursday, 10 October 2019, at 5:02 p.m.
About a year ago Jarrod and I went biking on the New River Trail here in Southwest Virginia. I posted the journey on Facebook at the time and remarked to the effect that he and I had gone some thirteen miles and that I found out I was good for only twelve. Dehydration set in in that last mile and laid me out. 

And, of course, Jarrod has had great fun retelling the tale ever since (but I'd be doing the same to him so that's okay). 

So today I decided to do a different leg of the Trail by myself. I had it mapped out and planned to travel from the terminus of the old Norfolk & Western track in Galax, Virginia to a point of interest 6.4 miles north called Chestnut Falls. 6.4 miles up and 6.4 miles back. 12.8 miles is pushing the envelope to be sure but the weather was nice and I intended to take it slowly and enjoy the ride. 

Little did I realize that the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Natural Resources doesn't consider Chestnut Falls to be interesting enough to mark it on the trail. 

So ... 

Because it was down below me, behind a bunch of trees, and off to the right, I rode on past it. 

And kept on agoin'. 

After a couple of miles I realized I had missed the landmark but I kept peddling anyway looking for another sign telling me how far I'd gone. 

I peddled and I peddled ... 

I finally came to Gambetta Road (State Route 793), which crosses the New River Trail 9.4 MILES NORTH OF GALAX. 

I stopped for lunch. And to ponder. 

And thought about calling Jarrod to see if he could pull some strings and get his Life Flight helicopter sent in. 

Instead I headed back south. That thing about taking it slowly and enjoying the ride? Forget it. 

Just as happened a year ago, it was now an endurance test. 

Oh. To make it more interesting? The first 9.4 miles - being the old railroad bed and being therefore almost level - is actually on a one-degree downward slope, following the course of the waterway. So the 9.4 miles back? Up-freaking-hill. 

At about 9.5, miles my thighs were feeling the burn. 

At about 14 miles I ran out of water. 

But finally at 16 miles I made it back to Cliffview Station (a remodeled old railroad station) (see photo) and bought a Gatorade. Life was once again good ... 

… until the 77-year old clerk, seeing the sweat rolling down my face, decided she had to remind me that I still had two miles to go. Had she not been bigger then me I would have shown her some of my jiu jitsu moves. 

This - sad to say - is a photo of yours truly standing in front of the old station. When I showed it to her, Paula looked at the photo and said, "You look pale." I replied, "Ya think?" 

To make a long story a bit less long I made it back to my truck. 18.8 miles, baby. 

The best part? I rode the first leg in 90 minutes. The return? 95 minutes. 

Hopped in the truck, stopped off at the Galax Lowes to buy a weed trimmer, and 45 minutes later pulled into the driveway at home. I put the bike in the barn, covered it, and walked up to Paula - who was giving me a worried look - and said to her: "Want to drive in to the library?" 

Another great day in my wonderful life.

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