Covington madnes

I decided to take an early night tonight in order for my body to get some rest. I found a cheap little motel in a town called covington and decided to go for it. I go inside my room, take a shower and start updating my blog. All of a sudden the power starts going on and off, and eventually it just goes off. I pull the blinds open and the skies outside have turned dark, dark gray in a matter of minutes. Things were flying around the parking lot of the motel because of the strong winds. That was 5 hours ago.

Since then, the storm, which was apparently a tornado, has moved on and wreaked havoc all over virginia and wv. Power is out in many counties. The whole town here is shut down, and of course i can’t charge any of my gear in the room nor upload any pictures since wifi doesn’t work. Nor can i get food anywhere so i’m basically starving here…

Meanwhile, i’ve made friends with an awesome crew of syrian guys living next to me. They’re in town for a festival making meditteranean food. Another family just checked in, their car was struck and destroyed by a falling tree on the highway. Shit’s crazy in Covington!

I’m still here

Hey!

The internet has been a bit hard to come by here in the boons. No cellular connection whatsoever for the last 24 hours. Had a mental battle with the legs all day yesterday. They feel a bit better today, came over Wilson Mtn (2700ft) without dying. Knees are painful though. Don’t know what’s wrong with them but they hurt with every pedal-stroke. Maybe I should have a rest day.

Last night I struggled to make it to Monterey, Virginia. I really wanted to get there before sunset because it is a I had heard of. Or so I thought. Monterey. Rings a bell doesn’t it? Well I rock in there at about 7pm and the place is tiny!!! Shit, I was thinking of Monterey, California.

Monterey, Virginia didn’t turn out too bad though. They apparently have zero campsites there, so I asked around at a gas station a bit and found a guy who said he’d let me camp in his front yard. Cool, except he lived 7 miles back the way I came down some hills which I’d have to come back up in the morning. Kept asking and pretty soon came across police officer Bill Wagner, a fast talking guy with a big laugh and a big heart. He said I could camp behind an old farm house on his land. He lived 7 miles in the direction I wanted to go. Perfect.

Was recommended a restaurant named Mountain Hideaway. Went there and got talking to a man named Kelley. He worked for the government and was doing research on something called the Emerald Ash Borer which is apparently eating all the Ashes in this country. He told me all about how they’d come to this country through people traveling more these days and also increased trade between the US and Asia. There are no predators to them here so they are just rocking out right now. Very bad for the ashes.

Kelley also told me about how bees and bats are in big trouble in lots of places, and how our world is going to be (excuse me) FUCKED. If we don’t get a hold of that situation. If bats become extinct then many bugs won’t have any predators, and if bees go extinct then flowers won’t be pollinated. I went to bed with a very heavy feeling last night because of this conversation.

Got up reasonably early today and kept rolling on the same road I’ve been on since Cumberland (route 220). I had been looking forward to a place called Warm Springs since yesterday and today I got there. They have warm springs here!!!! And that’s why it’s called warm springs. You pay $17 to chill for an hour in there and it was amazing for my whole body to just relax in the 94 degree (fahrenheit, ofc) water. Knees will probably be better now.

It’s actually 94 degrees outside too. And very humid. I’m really going to try to make it down to the Transamerica trail by the end of today but it’s much further than it looks on a map.

As soon as I get a solid wifi-connection I’ll upload some pics of the last few days!

Hope you’re all good!

S

Survived the night

Just rolled into Franklin, West Virginia. Maybe roll isn’t the right word. I’m not moving very fast, to put it mildly. My mind is fighting my legs. Guy just pulled into gas station-leaves truck on while he goes inside. Seems like standard procedure here.

The camping last night went well except for the fact that i forgot that you actually had to open a valve on my self inflating matress. I thought maybe it just took a while to inflate the first time. It was still flat in the morning though so that’s when i investigated the situation more thoroughly and found the valve.

The median income per person in franklin is $15000 per year according to wikipedia and a staggering 20% of people under 18 live under the poverty line. I’m riding through some beautiful countryside right now. I’ve been riding southbound in this valley the last few days. Everything looks sorta the same but I guess that’s how it is cycling through a big country like this. It’s not like you pass a county border and all of a sudden it looks different. Soon I’ll be linking up with the ta trail and start heading west again. Looking forward to that. Maybe meet some cyclists to ride with. That’d be nice.

Country roads & macncheese

Hey!

Had a good hard ride through west virginia today. It turns out there is no truth in thinking that you’ll be going downhill mostly if you’re going downwards on a map. I rode mostly south today, and mostly up I think. In West Virginia they’ve taken the same kind of smaller hills you see in eastern maryland, And then put them right after each other. As you’re slowly going up a hill, you see the crest up above and you think “ahh, at the top there will be cool beers and all downhills” and then you reach the crest only to find a downhill 10% as long as what you just did, and then another uphill. That happens a lot here.

Mountains are honest though: they always reward you in the end. Life here is easy in that way.

Arrived finally in Peterburg, west virginia just in time to inhale mac&cheese, grilled pork chops, apple sauce and a coke and subsequently set up my tent at a local campsite before sunset. People looked at me funny when I walked into the restaurant. Mostly locals there and I don’t think I look local. They don’t wear orange shorts and bike shoes in Petersburg.

I’m camping by a river here. Campsite is empty except for me. I’m a little nervous about sleeping here alone but I should be fine. Hung the little food I have up a tree so the bears won’t want to come inside my tent.

Got chased by my first dog today. Big ass thing with slobber hanging. The dog lived in a house on a downhill stretch though so he didn’t catch me. Lucky I wasn’t going up.

Keyser etc

In Keyser, West Virginia now. Making no good time on the bike. Top of knees hurt and I have very little power. Pain apparently symptom of over riding. No kidding. I’m riding along the feet of the appalachians south. Very hilly. Not super into Keyser. Everyone is very fat, it’s dirty here and they all drive huge trucks and leave them running when they go into the gas station.

Asked gas station attendant if he could fill my bottles. “yeah but it’s going to be tap water though!!” he said as if that was the worst thing in the world. The water here tastes better than stockholm water. Drink tap water people, it won’t kill you, I promise!!!!!

Very tired Olson rolls into Cumberland

So. I’m still in Cumberland and it’s noon. Felt I had to rest up after that crazy day.

A few pics from yesterday:

One of the first mile markers I saw on the C&O canal. I started at mile 99 and Cumberland is at mile 184. I became a slave to the mile markers. Kept wishing I’d missed the last one and would be pleasantly surprised, but that never happened.

The riding was VERY monotonous. This is what it looked like the whole way…

The actual canal:

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I pushed and pushed and pushed but it felt like I was getting nowhere basically. The miles draaaagged on. Eventually I got to a little place called little Orleans at mile 140 or so. The town consisted of one bar called Bill’s place. Bill is 90 and has two hoses sticking out of his nose. The bar was amazingly awesome. Met a cool couple called Matt and Allison (might be off there). We had a beer and a chat and they gave  me a slice of pizza which I badly needed.

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This gave me energy to ride a little faster for a while. Then I met a great little Japanese man who was absolutely astounded that I was aiming for the west coast. He was a very nice man and we had a quick chat before I rallied on. Here he is:

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Then the craziest thing happened!!! I was pushing along making good time I thought. Then all of a sudden there is a big herd of cows in front of me. On the trail. Like 20 of them. This was late in the day, maybe 7 pm, and the sun was setting. I just wanted to get out of there. There was no way around them. I tried to force through but they kind of wouldn’t move and I was scared as shit. I turned around and went back to the nearest camp site to ask the people there what they thought. They said that since they were all cows and no bulls it was fine.

I went back with my pepper spray up, and they’d moved up along the trail. Some of them had trailed off into the woods so there was a small clearing on the road. I took my chance and pushed on through. My heart was beating so fast!! Here is one picture of a few of them.

Then I just hammered on and eventually made it!!!
Best sign I’v ever seen:

That’s 4 miles but it felt like nothing compared to what I’d done.

OK I better get rolling here. Going south west today to try to link up with Transamerica trail. See y’all laters.