27 May The Poet – Blue Ridge Parkway Bicycle Ride Day 6
By 7 am I had already left the Apple Motel, ridden the 5 miles back to mileposts 116 where I had attempted to camp and back up past Roanoke Mountain to my room at the Apple. I packed up and checked out of the room. I ate breakfast at the Wal-Mart Subway Sandwich shop across the street. Bet you didn’t know that there was a Wal-Mart on the USA’s crown jewel roadway.
It was a very hot day and I was soon into a long tough climb. There were few places with water so I resorted to using chlorine drops to treat creek water. It didn’t take long for me to go through 4 bottles.
I met a couple of guys bicycling the Blue Ridge Pkwy South to North. One was Vince. Don’t recall the other, maybe Jeff. Jeff had all of the right touring equipment and had done the Parkway 17 times. He explained the rules for camping on the Parkway. Camping is allowed 60 ft off the road where not visible from road or any houses. What a surprise, the night before i had been camping in accordance to all rules.
These two had picked up another day rider who offered to turn around and ride with me. It was Bobby “the poet” Kendricks from Martinsville, VA.. Bobby is 70 years old and rides a top of the line road bike with conventional peddles that he calls “paddles” as best as I can tell. He talks about the guys he rides with from the Mill (now closed) and others that he happens upon on the Parkway and rides with. Bobby is seriously underestimated most of the time. He is careful in sizing up the ability of those he rides with.
I guessed that he could ride pretty well if he had been keeping up with the touring guys. He started slowly as did I. Of course, my primary goal is to pace myself during this long trip so it doesn’t matter how slow I roll. After a half hour of this pace, Bobby said, “don’t worry about me, just go on as fast as you like.” I gradually fell into my normal pace and Bobby was right there no matter how steep or long the hill. He was right with me and talking all the while. He recited a couple of poems that he wrote in rhyming verse. The first was for the grave cover of his deceased wife and the 2nd was entitled “Love”. The poetry was very good. He told me that it had been well received on local “open mic night”. Bobby also knows thus portion of the parkway better than Google Earth. He can recite every ride with a rival (those that don’t show him respect on a bicycle) and provide the terrain with descriptive terms like “carousels to the left”. When in an encounter with a rival, he sizes him up, picks moment, and paddles hard. Bobby’s dream is to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for riding a bike across the USA for 200 miles a day. He would start in San Diego. He asked whether I would like to do it with him.
I guess Bobby and I are somewhat alike in our unconventional ways. We both bike in our own ways, Bobby with his paddles and I with my outsized road bike equipped for touring ( I am told that this shouldn’t be done) I am sure neither of us get respect from the aficionados. It is our quest to prove them wrong.
Bobby and I parted ways at Rocky Mount campground after he told me cycling rivalry stories for another hour and half. Bobby is extremely competitive and would probably rise himself to death without giving up.
I headed up the hill another half mile and chose a campsite on a high ridge. That night there was a lot of wind, thunder and lightening and some occasional heavy rain. The rain blew under my tarp, but I used my jacket as a break and stayed mostly dry. Supper was fig newtons and almonds. I was worried about the poison ivy on the tree that I has used as a tarp support. My palm itched. I washes my hands vigorously with woolite and water.
Bobby told me that he loved his Australian Shepards and that he just might “key” me if I was to do anything to them. He would just “key” me. I thought about keys and keys as a weapon before i understood that “key” was his pronunciation of the word kill.