Too many ridges! Into Virgie, KY

Monday May 25, 2009, 64 miles (103 km) – Total so far: 645 miles (1,038 km)

Lots of firsts today. First day riding in mid-day rain.  First finished state (Virginia, after 612 miles) and first new state (Kentucky).  First fall – oops!

We left Council early, about 8:30, trying to get to Virgie, where daughter Virginia has friends.  Only problem was, three big climbs between us and there.

Full house, or at least picnic shelter, in Council, VA

Rolled through Davenport (does it exist?), Bee (ditto), Birchleaf (at least it looks like a linear subdivision), and into Haysi.  There we ate, and there it started to rain.  After a while, we decided to press on.  We’re going to get wet sometimes, and we did want to accomplish more than 13 miles or so, and it wasn’t raining quite as hard.

Nasty series of climbs and drops coming out of Haysi, VA.  I was hanging on to both brakes for dear life and praying on one sharp right curve, going downhill, of course, on a wet road.  The good Lord apparently does look out for fools, since we both made it.  There was a bit of RV traffic picking up – I’m not sure if it was the end of Memorial Day or just the rain that drove them homeward early.  One real jewel was a huge motor home, pulling a pickup truck, with a golf cart in the back of the truck!  Then we had the first of the real ridges, up to Breaks Interstate Park.  It’s on the Virginia-Kentucky line, where the Russell Fork has carved a gorge.  Nice views, even if a bit damp, and we ate lunch at the lodge.

Breaks

Farewell!

and Hello!

From Breaks, it was all downhill to Elkhorn City, KY.  I noticed two things on this part of the trip; first, Kentucky doesn’t leave much margin for error.  The pavement ends, and it’s a sharp drop to whatever is below, and sometimes the pavement ends a bit towards the middle of the road.  Secondly, the creeks and rivers looked like they had been scoured about two or three feet up from the water.  Apparently this was the result of the flooding that hit this part of the country back on May 8.

Make that three things.  All the comments about loose, ill-trained dogs were right!  We got through Virginia with one semi-serious dog chase.  I’ve lost count of Kentucky dogs already, and some of them chase while the owner does sit on the porch and watch.  Ill-bred curs! and their dogs!

We turned up, and I mean up, from Ashcamp.  This was the epitome of poor Kentucky jokes; sad shacks, creek used as garbage dump and running sewer.  This could have been named Fighting Cock Hollow, since there was a plethora of cocks.  I was amused to watch one rooster crowing at his neighbor while a mourning dove ate his food below, unnoticed.

That ridge was plenty steep, for only 400′ or so.  Happily we rolled downhill to Hellier and Lookout.  Look out!  I wandered too close to the edge of new pavement, fell off an inch and a half, and went down.  Luckily only road rash.  Turned up the hill and saw my kind of church!

Mine too!

One more ridge, and it was a doozy.  Maybe a little taller, but a heck of a lot steeper.  I ran out of low gears, again, and walked a good part of the way.  Braked, carefully, half way down, and finally the grade eased and I could cruise on down.  Lots of coal starting to show in the new road cuts.  Roads were noticeably better, and there was a mountain-top removal strip mine, going into Virgie.  So coal is king here; the houses and roads are better than over at Elkhorn City, but you do have the mines.

Strip mine going towards Virgie, KY

I was tired, but the warm welcome from Robert and Brenda was wonderful.  They invited us in, fed us, let us sleep on the couch, washed our clothes, and sent us off well-fed the next day.  Thank you all!

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