And then there are the days that are kind of just bullshit.
We want to take a moment to talk about the Sucky Times. The hard days. The un-'Grammable crapfests.
Not too long a moment, don't worry. This isn't doing to become a complain-a-thon, and neither of us believe (contrary to what many arts MFAs would seem to teach you) that suffering is more interesting, more notable, more noble than Doing Fine.
But a brief moment we are taking: because a lot of times—especially in the World According to Instagram—you're presented with the unironic visual equivalent of that Lego movie song. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, AND DON'T YOU WISH YOU WERE LIVING THIS GORGEOUS LIFE, DEAR VIEWER???
So, in the interest of honesty and fighting the Aspirational Lifestyle Culture, here's some real talk: Day 12 sucked.
We woke up to more rain. Which we just weren't spiritually prepared for after yesterday's constant sogginess. (What?? The universe doesn't reasonably reward your efforts??) The road from Troutsville to Blacksburg, about 44 miles, is pretty enough, and maybe it would be more enjoyable on one of those carbon fiber road bikes you can toss in the air with one hand. But traveling heavy, it's just hill after hill after hill — even on the flats, it feels like incline, and you never work up enough motion to feel like you aren't riding the struggle bus. Virginia truly is the Land of 1000 Gear Shifts. You're never off the hoods, you're just clicking back up and back down constantly, trying to take some of the pressure off.
It's the kind of riding that makes you feel like "Goddamit maybe I actually can't do this. Maybe I'm a fool. Maybe everyone else in the world is stronger and faster and more capable than I am."
There were some nice barns. I will say that.
But THEN. Just when we thought we were in the homestretch to Blacksburg—4 miles to go, a mere 4 miles!—we started climbing the Hill From Hell.
Harding Road almost made us cry. It did make us curse, wheeze, and lie down in the grass at one point to recover. We're talking 2 miles of Straight Up. Something like 682 feet of rise. Apparently there's a picture out there of Lance Armstrong (when he was still a thing) standing victoriously at the top of it after some race that ended in Blacksburg. Well, knock yourself out, Lance. It sucks.
It was a hard, grumpy, hilly, stupid day, friends. And sometimes, that's just what they are.
But we would be remiss in leaving off there. When we got to our Warm Showers hosts' place, the day's trials were soon washed away by more incredible kindness, great food, beer, and conversation. Laura and Tommy are our second Amazingly Badass host couple — their garage is a cycling paradise, they ride a beefy-ass tandem mountain bike on 100-mile races, and Laura coaches local high school girls' mountain biking. Among other radness! (They even know our buddy Kyle, who built our very own bikes for this trip, from the Virginia riding and racing scene!) Staying with them—and their two excellent cats, Diablo and Cosmo—has been a restful joy. (Even though we both tried a Carolina Reaper pepper from Laura's awesome garden and almost died in the process.) So, after all, thank you, Universe. Thank you, Laura and Tommy.
Day 12: Troutsville to Blacksburg, VA. 43.6 miles, 3100 feet of suck climbing, 2 Kitties, 1 Carolina Reaper.