Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Biking Through Coal County

Woke up this morning at the Comfort Inn in Big Stone Gap, Virginia which is currently populated with about two dozen cherry pickers to restore power lost last night.   This morning, I'm heading over to Wise, VA to serve as a panelist at a continuing legal education class on Drones and Spacelaw.

Driving up here last night, all I could think about was August, 1996 when I rode a bike across the United States. 

After getting a bike "tune-up" from an aggressive technician in Carbondale, IL, I noticed that my rear shifter had become a bit more erratic.  Once we hit the Ozarks in Missouri, it basically started to fail which was lots of fun going up hills with 15% grades.  When I got to Hindman, Kentucky it was basically completely dead and I knew there was no way I was going over the Virginia mountains with only about three gears (the low ones that aren't good on hills).

Finding special parts for Italian gear sets was a bit of a challenge in the Kentucky mountains - especially before the internet really existed (it existed, but not like today).  We were stuck at a small mom and pop hotel in Hindman, Kentucky for two days.  We figured out that Hazard, Kentucky was about 20 miles away, had a cab service and an actual bike shop so I had a cab come and pick me up and drive me over there.

They didn't have Campianolo shifter parts, but they did have an old school down-tube shifter that was junk off another bike.  I snapped that up in a heart beat, cabbed it back to Hindman, and the next day we were back on the road.

It rained the entire day as we  rode from Hindman, KY, over the Virginia line near Pound, VA, and then down through Wise and Norton on our way to Abingdon, VA.  Riding a bike (a) 100 miles, (b) in the rain, (c) through the mountains, (d) getting passed, sprayed, blown by 18-wheelers all day long, is something you don't forget. 

Last night, I drove through rain and brutal thunderstorms all the way from Marion, VA to here.  Some things never change. 

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