56.37 miles (Total: 457.61) Average Speed: 11.1mph Max Speed: 37mph
The Lee’s have cats and dogs, despite not usually being allergic I woke up with a running nose and sneezing. The dogs outside also start barking around 5am and I eventually got up around 5:30, very tired and bunged up. Thankfully I was able to have the best cup of Earl Grey and it set me right again. Cooper eventually got out off bed, before we hit the road for the day we stopped by a station to pick up another 5 hour energy shot which I now swear by.
The shot doesn’t seem to have the same effect for me today but Cooper is flying as I ignore my burning thighs to keep up. The weather is looking ominous and eventually the heavens open, we stop by a shelter on a local bike trail and hit the store for some lunch whilst waiting out the rain. “Are you from Liverpool?” asked the women. It turns out she spent some time in northern England so I commended her for at least recognising I wasn’t from London. She tells me her favourite place in the world is “right here in Draper!”. Seriously, the place was literally a gas station and a portable toilet, oh well.
After the rain we rode sluggishly, we had only covered a third of the day and it was already 1pm. The hills are steady and frequent enough to make it feel as if your constantly struggling up a hill hour after hour. We pass a huge Gatorade bottling factory and shout out to an old guy on his porch about it. He calls us over and says “he ain’t got the gatorade” but offers us some cold fizzy peach water. It was really refreshing, the guy then introduces himself as Perry Graham. He tells us how the area has become dominated by trucks, how he doesn’t get gatorade discount and how he had to retire “because I got a disability”. Just as he seems like a laid back old timer he starts to turn religous on us, his voice gets heated as he talks about the divine healing he has received. Ok thanks for the beverage Perry but we gotta roll!
We get to the outskirts of Whytheville and decide to stop at the busy services for food, there were trucks and cars everywhere. We have probably one of the most mediocare subways ever (they hardly had anything we wanted) before heading out to finish the last few climbs to our destiniation, Rural Retreat. Once we made it to the Historical Society building that allows cyclists to stay over Cooper phones the number provided on the locked door. A woman turns up almost immeidiatley to show us around, stocked kitchen, hot showers and beds! She tell us its free to stay but they ask kindly for donations. She then hands us the key and leave. The place is unbelievable and turns out to be the birth and deathplace of the original Dr Pepper (later we would discover the connection to the drink was loose, the drink is from Texas and only named after this guy through a friend of a friend, but Rural Retreat likes its claim to fame).
I crack open the fridge, free gatorade and Dr Pepper galore, I then spot two beers at the back. Me and Cooper instantly rejoice before necking them in celebration of a tough day. We head out to the store to get some more to drink and to replace the two we drank for the next tired cyclists that roll through.
Places like the Rural Retreat Historical Society, which you would otherwise not even consider a destination have been amazing. The woman who gave us the keys to this entire building/museum had no doubt we would treat it with respect and leave her a donation. She must have been proven right so many times over the years to be this comfortable that it restores your faith in humanity, especially when I think of some of the scumbags I encounter around Newcastle and Middlesbrough back home. Life is good.