When I was checking out motels in Radford I met, and discussed routes with, a local bicyclist. He said the AC route involved 'a big U' and suggested and alternative route (south on 787, then west on 693, and cross Claytor Lake on a single lane wooden bridge). I decided to stay with the AC route, but I would have done the other route if I had realized that the big U was about 5 miles deep. My map, of course, doesn't show the U at all, nor does it show the reason for the U.
I rode out on the road, highway 611, which parallels I-81. A few miles later it ended in haybales after the intersection of another road. Following that other road led me, five miles or so later, to AC signs on bridge across a river that isn't on my map. On the other side of the river the route goes back down the river and eventually intersects 611 again. A big U indeed. It appears that 611 used to be continuous, but that the bridge(?) was removed many years ago. Ah well, the ride after the bridge was quite nice.
After rejoining 611, the route use frontage roads for I-81. It is a bit hilly and the presence of I-81 is sometime intrusive, but it is mostly just a nice ride. I stopped for a snack at a grocery store/gas station in the recreational area along Claytor Lake. The owner was a bit cranky at first, but he ended up sitting on the bench and with me outside his store while I ate my Moon Pie and drank my RC Cola.
The Bike Centennial signs (76 - Bike) are pretty good along this part of the route and I had ridden part of it (the part beyond Pulaski) before, so I had an easy time following the route. The AC route takes a back road going into Wytheville, but I choose just to stay on the frontage road until highway 11 exits from I-85 and goes into Wytheville. You have to cross I-85 just before 11 exits since the exit is not accessible from the north side of I-85. I stopped for lunch in Wytheville and then continued on 11. The AC route exits from 11 seven miles beyond Wytheville, but I don't know why. 11 is good riding all the way down to Bristol.
I rode to Abingdon, a very nice small town 17 miles before Bristol, and stopped for the night. I had had a spoke replaced at a bike shop in Abingdon last year (they did it for free) and I wanted to say hello again. I had a nice visit with the owner of the shop. When I was checking into a nearby motel, I met a lady whose husband was spending his summer climbing the highest mountains in each state on the east coast. I ran into her later, this time with her husband, and we had supper together. He had just retired from a big NY power company where part of his job dealt with public requests to set up bike trails on old railroad right of ways that the power company owned. He had been involved with the creation of two bike trails. I learned a bit about the legal complexities of bike trail creation: the power company developed an 18 page contract for this situation. 100 miles.
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