DAY 67 — Radford, VA (Front lawn, Dr. Thaddius Lee’s home) to Troutville, VA (Food pantry floor, Troutville Baptist Church).
Total mileage: 60.7
Total cycling time: 5:10
Average speed: 11.7
Maximum speed: 33.7
Yesterday, we officially started to close in on our final destination. We unpacked the last map in our envelope, meaning that we’ve pedaled nearly 3,900 miles to date.
My sister was sure to give map twelve the ceremony it deserved. We waited in the Christiansburg, VA post office for two stomach-grumbling hours until a UPS truck appeared out of nowhere, with twelve (!) minutes to spare before the guaranteed delivery deadline. I bolted out to the street and chased the driver down to collect our deluxe deli shipment. Zabar’s, one of our favorite New York City food stores, did not disappoint: we immediately swallowed more than half of the 13 pounds of bagels, cream cheese, nova lox, rye bread, pastrami, mustard, and rugelach.
We then rode with bloated bellies through cold, foggy foothill weather to Catawba, VA, where Elliot picked up a spare tire and tube shipment.
As we began looking for a place to bed down last night, we thought about checking in at a motel to escape the inclement weather. Elliot remembered that Wednesday is bible study night in this part of the bible belt, though, so we decided to try our luck on church row.
First, we stopped in at a church and asked someone in the parking lot about a place to stay. Apparently, even as newcomers to a town, our reputation precedes us: she had actually heard about us at a nearby coffee shop where we sipped on some hot chocolate half an hour earlier. She said the church couldn’t take us in, but she did offer her home, five miles off route. We thanked her for the invitation and put it on hold as we continued to search for shelter on our route.
After hearing our story and plea, the pastor at the Troutville Baptist Church offered us hot coffee and a space in an annex house adjacent to the main church building. As it turns out, our bedroom is about to be converted into a local food pantry. Our charitable cause of hunger-relief makes this pit stop all the more fitting.
We ordered a pizza, turned the gas heater on full blast, and rested up for a big day of riding.
We’ve managed to avoid four inches of rain falling from the sky. Fortunately, we talked our way into securing a roof over our heads, just as torrential flash floods threatened to wash us off our path. Now, we are patiently waiting for this rainstorm to die down before we hit the road.
There is a lesson in all this solicitation. Time and time again, we have learned that it is always worthwhile to muster up the courage to ask for what we need. Granted, we do not have a 100% success rate, but most strangers have seemed willing to accommodate any reasonable request.
Call it brazen audacity, gall and gumption, raw guts, or just plain chutzpah — there is a reward for being bold and sticking your neck out. Through 67 days of trial and error, this journey has helped us uncover an unstoppable combination: knowing what you want and knowing why you want it is the golden key to opening doors and getting you places.
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