Tuesday May 26, 2009, 34 miles (55 km) – Total so far: 679 miles (1,093 km)
I begged and pleaded, and Virginia agreed to a shorter day today. Brenda sent us off with a huge, delicious pancake breakfast, which got us up the first mountain!
And what a mountain it was. Memorial Day was over and my theory of nice roads equals coal seems to have some merit, as we were passed by three trucks coming down, and near the top, four trucks going up. Most coal truck drivers are pretty good, from our limited sample, as they gave us enough room while passing. Any traffic that might have been coming the other way might disagree, since there wasn’t really more than two lanes… It may have rained a little, but I was so soaked with sweat, it didn’t really matter. Boy, was I happy to see the Floyd County line – it was at the top, and I was ready for it!
Cruised down through Melvin, recognizable since it had a post office, Bypro, and Bevinsville, which is really just an intersection with a restaurant. I think I’m losing a ridge, since I think there was another one in there somewhere.
Anyhow, we made it into Dema (a post office, among other things in the same building), and cruised up toward Pippa Passes. I think we passed 5 coal mine entrances, and one CSX coal loading facility. The grade was nice, the road was pretty good, and the work crew putting in guard rails seemed to have hit a water line, so they closed the road down to one lane with flagmen for a mile or so. Nice for us, because it made for a really long time between batches of coal trucks!
Pippa Passes was a piece of cake, then there was this one steep rise above it. And another, and pretty soon, we’re climbing a big, nasty, steep, ridge. Needed lower gears again, so I pushed a while. This really kills our rolling average speed, walking up at 1-2 mph. Finally made it to the top, and the first really nice downhill cruise we’ve had for a while into Mallie, no desperate grabbing the brake, not too much alternating hands, just a good, 20 mph cruise. A few hills later, and we’re into Hindman, where we’re spending the night at a dynamic Hindman United Methodist Church. I just about got dizzy listening to Pastor John Schnorr describe everything they’re doing with only 90 members! Thunder is rumbling, showers are blowing through, but we’re doing fine.