We left Troutdale this morning and quickly began a bit of a climb, headed towards Damascus VA for breakfast. After warming up, and reaching the peak of our climb, we were rewarded with some long, uplifting downhills. After a week of going on a roller coaster ride through the Appalachians, these downhills were just what we needed. The 10 mile cruise to Damascus was not without stress though. As we were riding by a house hidden around a corner, I began to hear dog barks and saw three muscle-dogs charging for me. Fight-or-flight hit, and I choose flight. One dog got pretty close, and may have even gotten a taste of my right pannier. I sped away, adrenaline pumping, and they gave up soon enough. I grabbed my pooch pepper spray (which is now located in a more convent and quickly accessible location), turned around, and began to counter-attack, as I knew my wingman Kevin would be coming around the bend and was up next to be ambushed. Kev quickly came around the corner and the dogs darted for him, quickly attempting to make breakfast out of his rear tire. I went back, pepper spray in hand, but soon enough the dogs retreated. I’m also not sure I would have even used the spray, at the risk of misting my partner. We arrived to Damascus, which as we found out, is a prominent biking/hiking destination. All the businesses in the town were outfitter, bike, or outdoor rental stores. After breakfast I walked into a bike shop to pick up an item or. two. As I was leaving, I told the guy at the counter to advise all east-bound travelers to be prepared for those dogs. He said he’s heard that from people before, and the police have even been called on the property.
We continued on out of Damascus through a few small towns. It surprising coming from the North to see the condition of many of these towns. Time has not treated a good number of the towns we’ve passed through well. We approached Hayters Gap and began another big accent, but knew we would be done soon after. After a tough climb to the top, I did the rocky-stance at the summit drenched in sweat. We made it down the mountain and arrived to a church that has had an open door for cyclists since the first TransAmerica ride in 1976. We found a stocked pantry, shower, and roof. Couldn’t ask for more since it’s supposed to rain tonight. The forecast continues to be be bad. We’ve been severely unlucky with the weather, not having more than a one or two day stretch without rain. Oh well, we’re picking up speed, so hopefully we’ll break trogugh it. Tomorrow we’ll be sleeping in Kentucky, and couldn’t be happier to leave the hills of Virginia behind.