Day 10: Camping at a town's pool and ballpark - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

May 2, 2022

Day 10: Camping at a town's pool and ballpark

Day 10 stats

Start: Damascus, Va.

Finish: Council, Va.

The Daily Progress: 51.37 miles

Elevation gain: 4,426 feet

 Average speed: 9.6 mph

Food expenses: $10. Ice cream, plus some food from Family Dollar.

Lodging expenses: $0. The Council Pool and Park.

Day 10 highlights and lowlights

Two new things today: 1. First ice cream cone of the trip, and Honey Bea's in Honaker. Two scoops, one of rum black cherry and the other of strawberry cheesecake, on a waffle cone. Very unusual flavor choices for me, but they sure hit the spot. 2. First time camping in a municipal town park. There's a softball field, a swimming pool, a swing set, a couple of bathrooms, a little "shelter," which is basically a bunch of picnic tables under a roof in front of a small stage — and oh, here's a bicycle leaning next to a picnic table and a hammock hanging between two of the poles, holding up some wayward cyclist who apparently couldn't find a proper place to sleep. Nah, this is totally legit. I even called ahead earlier today to confirm that bike tourists camping at the park is totally cool with whoever runs this place. Nice! Thanks to the town of Council, Va., for allowing this, and thanks to Adventure Cycling Association for listing places like this on the map. For $0, this is an excellent deal.

Let's back up a bit now and highlight a few other things from today:

Breakfast at Lady Di's B&B in Damascus, Va., is to di for. Also, she is in her "A" game when it comes to coffee mugs. I rarely photograph my food, but this was photo-worthy ... and apparently my connection is too weak to upload them. But I can describe them. On both days, a generous portion of eggs scrambled with vegetables and small diced fried potatoes. On Sunday, we were also treated to bacon, a giant sticky bun and a fruit smoothie. On Monday, we got sausages, a giant hunk of cornbread with blueberries and orange juice. My coffee mug on Sunday had an image of a very cheerful looking woman who seemed to come straight from the '50s, alongside these words: "DRINK COFFEE. Do Stupid Things Faster With More Energy." My mug today: "TO DO LIST: 1. WAKE UP. 2. DRINK COFFEE. 3. POOP. 4. BE AWESOME."

(In case you haven't picked up on it yet, I do have a somewhat juvenile sense of humor, but what I really enjoy is the kind of joke that someone tells knowing that it's kind of a stretch, or knowing that it's kind of a bad joke but sometimes it's just bad enough to be good. You get me? It's funny because it shouldn't be funny. It's too silly to laugh at. So I can't help myself.)

After breakfast, I packed up and hit the road. I tried not to think about it, but after a rest day, it did make me think: Do I need to get back on the bike today? Some hikers were taking two zero days in a row, and that would mean another unbelievably satisfying breakfast like the ones I just described. But I knew I had no reason to stay another day, and if I don't keep going I might get stuck in the inertia.

The weather was perfect for biking today. The Adventure Cycling Association's app estimated that the 50 miles I planned to ride today would involve nearly 6,000 feet of climbing, which is a lot. I think I've done a record of about 7,000 feet in a day several years ago, and it was a challenge. So I thought I was up for some big hills today. Turns out there were indeed two big hills, but they were not steep at all, just really long, and somewhere the numbers were wrong. My bike computer, which usually overcounts the elevation gain, says I climbed about 4,400 feet. No wonder it wasn't nearly as brutal as I was fearing.

There was one lowlight shortly before I got my ice cream. As I was parking my bike, an older White man, I'm guessing in his late 60s or early 70s, came out and saw me with all my stuff and asked me where I'm going and where I came from. When I said I live in D.C., he was quick to declare his disdain for Washington. When I asked him what he had against it, he told me he and his lawyer were the only White people at the hotel and they were surrounded by Black people. 

A frank conversation followed. Unsurprisingly, no one's mind was changed as a result. 

I know that I should expect to encounter racism, but when it happens so blatantly and unapologetically, it is still shocking. I also know that one conversation is not going to change a person's perspective, but it still makes you feel like crap when you realize your effort to help others see the light is just making them defensive.

I guess this is all part of it. I decided to take this route through rural America. And I am seeing rural America — its beauty and its warts.

Ramblings: What I'm carrying, what I'm not carrying, and what I already sent home

I finally cleaned up my packing list and posted it as an entry on this blog, under the Introduction & Preparation section. Click here up jump to that entry.

Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 474 miles (763 km)

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