Day 10, May 9th – High Point to Courtney
Today I got a late start after lounging around in the morning at my luxurious campground with wifi. After finally getting under way the weather was plenty warm. Things continue to get hillier as I press on towards the mountains. Even though I put in a decent amount of miles today, my progress on the map looks small. It seemed to take forever to escape the Winston-Salem area. The roads around here were fairly busy, but once finally out of town they greatly improved. It looked like I was going to get rained on several times, but somehow narrowly escaped any downpours.
I had lunch in Clemmons at a BBQ joint and just as I pulled under the awning the skies let loose and poured for 10 minutes. Good timing! After eating way too much I slowly pressed on. I wasn’t having much luck finding close camping spots on the map. There was one near my route, but it was questionable whether I make it that far today. As I road into Courtney (small town) it looked like another storm was rolling through. Sure enough the downpour and wind came. Fortunately, I was able to escape under a sheltered area by the high school. This passed within 5-10 minutes. It was just over an hour to sunset and I didn’t think I was going to make the campground so I decided to look for a place to hide my tent in Courtney. Plus I didn’t know what weather could be coming next.
I found a good spot out of view down behind the soccer fields. After doing the usual routine of setting up camp it was off to bed.
I kept seeing signs for “Homemade cookies ahead” so I figured I better try them. I walked in the building and there were a bunch of ladies rolling out dough in the glassed off kitchen area. Apparently not too many sweaty cyclists come in because I got some strange looks. Someone walked out and I said something like “Uh… I hear you have cookies?”. They had a bunch to try. I went with the sugar cookie. I’ve never had a drug addiction, but imagine rehab is something like trying to keep your hand out of this bag of cookies. After mowing my way through half of them I moved them into my rear pannier out of reach.
Day 11, May 10th: Courtney to Lenoir
Had my coffee and breakfast with my new stove and packed up. I was on the road by 8:00 AM and passed the girls softball team on my way out. I think I got a few strange “Where’d he come from?” kind of looks. Little did I know that I would be hitting some mountains today, my map says they are the Brushy Mountains. I’m guessing these don’t compare to the climbs I’ll be doing to get up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I spent most of the day on my low gears.
It was a long day with beautiful views. The rain finally caught up to me and I was hit by several downpours. I didn’t mind since I needed a shower anyways. You dry pretty quick while you’re riding. I didn’t have much to eat today… a banana with the little bit left of my peanut butter and a granola bar. I mainly held off on a meal because I had scouted out a brewery in Lenoir and I had pizza on my brain. Pizza and a good beer. The thought got me over the monster hills between Taylorsville and Lenoir.
I arrived in downtown Lenoir and at first could not find the brewery, Howard Brewing. Downtown was pretty empty and I was spent. I was about to head out and just eat something on my way out of town but pulled out my laptop to check once more (my phone was dead and downtown had wifi). The brewery was just a block from where I had ended my search by bike. Fortunately they were open… and right next to a pizza place! Stacie, the owners husband was working since Jason (husband/owner) was on his way back from a beer fest. She had a menu of the neighboring pizza joint… within 20 minutes I was quickly replacing the calories burned earlier in the day. It was glorious.
I also me Jake at Howard Brewing, a younger guy living in Asheville and in town for Mothers Day. He offered me a place to stay at his mother’s house, but he still had plans to meet people in another town and it was probably going to be a late night with more drinking… I would been fine with this if I wasn’t planning to take on the climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway. After contemplating my nights stay, I decided to look around town for camping. It was getting dark and I ended up picking a spot behind some pine trees in a business park. I’m getting the hang of this stealth camping. I sure like the price!
Acts of Kindness: 3 – Stacie and Jason Howard both tried to come up with places for me to stay (they live out of town a ways); Jake, another friend I made at the brewery, offered me a place but it would have meant a late night and early morning since he had plans out of town later in the evening; Jason gave me a beer on the house and a quick tour of the facility
Dogs: 6? – Lately I’ve been pointing and shouting “Go home!” and it has been pretty successful. Most dogs have stopped and seem surprised I yelled at them.
Day 12, May 11th: Lenoir to the
Blue Ridge Parkway Marion
Today I woke up with a thick fog surrounding the town. Good for especially stealthy camping, but pretty terrible for riding a bike. I headed to The Coffee House for breakfast and planned my day. My knee was fairly stiff and my legs were pretty tired. I was planning to get up to the Blue Ridge Parkway which is supposed to be challenging but beautiful. Once on the parkway I would ride a short ways and head back down into Marion to visit my grandma. After realizing I was only about a 40 mile ride from Marion, I decided to save the parkway for fresher legs and head to her home. Well 40 miles seemed like it would be a fairly easy day, but it was far from it. It’s by no means flat between Lenoir and Marion and the weather continues to be hot!
Once I arrived I found the door unlocked and no one home. My grandma had just left prior to my arrival to bring my cousin to the Charlotte airport. When she got home we got a walk in and made dinner. I was pretty spent so by this time I was ready for bed. Feels great to have a shower and sleep in a bed.
Acts of Kindness: 2 – Grandma spoiling me and the lady at the diner writing out the long encryption code for me so I could use the wifi. It didn’t work, but I didn’t have the heart to bother her with it.
Day 13, May 12th: Marion (REST DAY)
I’ll be spending a couple days here in Marion resting my legs and having fun with Grandma Jean. Oh and eating delicious home cooking!
I’m enjoying seeing all her latest artwork, gardening, yard work, and other miscellaneous projects. I learned how to paint with wax today… encaustic painting. I’m definitely not good at it, but it’s fun! I’m incredibly messy. Just swung into a coffee shop so I can update the blog then we are off to the studio to see some of her work.
She has some really great work around the house. I’ll have to grab some pictures and share in another post. No riding today. Probably not tomorrow either. The parkway climb will be INTENSE!
All for now. I should go I see my grandma is falling asleep over on the couch waiting for me to update the blog. I’m being a boring guest! Thanks for all the comments! It’s always fun to read them at the end of a long day!