So I'm here! In Durham, NC! 2 months ago, as I set off from my uncle's place, I didn't imagine the things I would see and do. I'm so happy that I was able to push through all the little problems and issues that came up and get all the way to my originally intended goal.
I've been pushing myself more than usual for the last few days, but I've felt great throughout. I did 110 miles today! With significant uphills too. Then again, I wasn't ready to do a small 50 mile day today and push the trip another day! It's funny to contrast today with my second day on this trip, where I felt like I wasn't going to be able to make the 60 mile ride! I've certainly grown stronger since then.
The last few days had a significant amount of urban riding, and I was continually reminded how different riding in the city is compared to the country. There were a few times when roads were filled with traffic, but for me, the bigger problem has been navigating in cities. I keep missing my turns and then have to figure out how to get back to where I need to be.
There are advantages to city riding too of course. Elizabethton had a beautiful trail that took me almost all the way up the Appalachians on a scenic, gentle slope. And I hit bits of trail in North Carolina too.
I've been getting a lot of help from people along the way for the last few days too.
At Bean Station, the Inn Manager, an Indian, was really intrigued by my stories. We spent a bunch of time talking about my trip and how he got there and started doing what he's doing. He used to be a software engineer at Northrop Grumman! He decided at some point that he wanted to slow down a bit, so bought a motel along with a bunch of friends and now runs the place! Pretty cool! He even cooked me some authentic indian food and didn't charge me for the room!
As I was riding from the Tennessee-North Carolina border into Boone, there was a huge storm approaching from behind. The road was narrow and there was thick forest on both sides, so I rode on, figuring I was going to get drenched anyway. Just before the storm got to me however, this guy pulled up next to me and asked me to get in! I told him I was ok, but he insisted. He said the storm was going to be severe and riding in it wasn't safe. He seemed genuinely concerned. So I stopped. We loaded the bike and I got in. He rode me all the way up to the nearest gas station and dropped me off there. The storm that followed was absolutely huge. I was so glad I wasn't halfway up the hill in the middle of nowhere at that point!
I stayed at two warmshowers too, both of whom were very nice. One of them happened to have his birthday the day I was there, so I joined his family in the birthday celebrations, and had some delicious ice-cream cake.