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Uphill and Against the Wind - TransAm E-W
By Dave T

Day 10: Wytheville to Damascus - "The Place", or is it..... "The Ritz"

Monday May 26, 1986, 62 miles (100 km) - Total so far: 529 miles (851 km)

The night was pretty cold, and it rained pretty heavy. I slept pretty good and dry under the covered pavilion. At 6am or so it stopped raining briefly and I got packed up headed to a restaurant in a hurry. The food was pretty good and I had French toast, sausage, toast and coffee for about $2.50. I departed in heavy fog with Gene from the restaurant and headed for Damascus.

The ride today was pretty good except for off and on sprinkles. The first part of the day was up hill for 30 or so miles then downhill 30 miles into Damascus. I traveled past the highest point in Virginia, Mount Rogers located in the Jefferson National Forest. The area is dotted with many hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail (AT). I am riding in the Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains. I will intersect with the AT in Damascus, and will probably be staying with some Hikers at the Hostel.

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Near Damascus Virginia

(hey, look, I did bring other clothes...)

The ride was pretty good, not too tough and some great scenery. A large pack of dogs chased me upon arrival in Damascus... I out ran them. Gene and I arrived in Damascus around 2pm and got some lunch before heading to "The Place". I've been hearing so much about the "The Place" I'm not sure if I should be scared or excited? The hostel, called "The Place" is run by a local church and is shared by both AT hikers and TA bikers. What a real experience this is, the place is a condemned old house complete with bugs, fleas and who knows what else inside.

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typical scenery today

The ruff and ready hikers who have not had a shower in a month all stayed inside the house. Most of us bikers setup tents outside because the conditions inside were horrible. The hikers I met initially were a little strange, like crazy, like not well. We didn't really seem to get along that well with the hikers and I walked in on them talking about us. I walked around the corner and their faces all turned red as they all stopped mid sentence. What a bunch of clowns.

Having a planned rest day tomorrow with the BC group, we all decided to go to the local pub. We arrived at the pub about 3 in the afternoon. Gene, Clay, Diane, Rich and I didn't leave until closing, at which time they had to tell us to leave. Gene paid for all the beer and food and got a 12 pack of Bud to go. We all were a little drunk as we headed back to the Ritz, as I named the dump we were staying at. During the walk back we decide to finish off the 12 pack, so we stopped on the church steps. Clayton was smashing beer cans and chucking them into the flower beds, Rich was waving at cars while holding up a beer, and Gene was dancing on the top steps. Good thing this town doesn't have many cops or we'd be in trouble.

Arriving back at "The Ritz" we decided to take Phil for a ride in his sleeping bag, while he slept. We also picked up Fred's tent and moved it (with him in it) to a new location. We kinda decided we were hungry so we decided to go into Sheryl's tent (a very small one). Packed in like sardines and to Sheryl's surprise we all fit. Finally some dumb hiker came out and told us to shut up or he'd call the police. I told him to shut up and to consider this pay back for talking about us earlier.

I went to sleep with this stupid song from Robert Palmer in my head. This idiot at the bar kept playing the same song over and over for 6 hours.

[Author's Note:] If anybody is offended because we were drinking beer on the church steps I'm sorry. Before anyone sends me a nasty gram please remember this happened 20 years ago when I was 20 years old. Everybody has done things to let off a little steam in their younger days.


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