Day 53 Blacksburg to Abingdon VA
I have now ridden south down the Shenandoa Valley 'on 11' four times and have done slightly different routes on todays section each time. I think I got it right this time. My route starts by heading south from Blacksburg towards Christiansburg on 460, but then turns west on 114. Roughly a dozen miles later 114 ends at route 11, and I head 'north' (actually back east) on 11 towards Radford. Less than a mile later, 11 crosses a big river and the Bike 76 route, heading west, goes south down the river just before that bridge. So, 460 south to 114 west to 11 north to 626, the AC route, the road heading south just before the bridge. You can see the 76 Bike sign on the bridge and, coming the other way on 11 (which I did three years ago), you can see the 76 bike sign telling you to turn after the bridge.
11 with turn to 626
When the road along the river (a really nice road!) Ts into 611, a road that runs roughly parallel to I-81 and just north of it, you'll see a 76 Bike sign. Follow those signs (some of them now have a 20th Anniversary sign underneath) till you get to Draper. At Draper, don't turn at the 76 Bike sign, but ride on a few hundred yards and take the frontage road on the south side of I-81. When the frontage road is crossed by 654, turn right on 654 and cross I-81.You'll see the 76 Bike sign on 654 heading up the hill and if you don't turn you'll run out of road shortly and have to come back. Been there, done that.
Don't turn here, keep on the frontage road to Wytheville
When 76 Bike leaves the frontage road on 121, don't take it, but instead continue on the frontage road till the Lovers Lane crosses I-81 just before Wytheville. Cross over, ride to the first intersection, turn right for a block, then turn left on 11 heading south through Wytheville. Ride 11 the rest of the way through Virginia. Route 11 south of Wytheville does not, usually, have shoulders. It is sometime 4 lanes but mostly two lanes, and it is quite good riding almost all the way. South of Marion, 11 switches back and forth between the two sides of I-81, often running quite near to the interstate. In the second photo below you can see one of the steepest hills on 11 and, right next to it, vehicles on I-81.
US 11 south of Marion
Today's ride was OK till Wytheville, but I realized I was very tired as I rode up the long hill through town. I had a good breakfast in Blacksburg, an OK lunch at a truckstop five miles north of Wytheville on the I-81 frontage road, and in Wytheville I had a large milkshake at the Dairy Queen. It is sixty miles from Wytheville to Abingdon and Marion is roughly in the middle. For me, on this tour, the last fifteen miles before Marion were very hard. I had had a pretty good headwind after Wytheville and I was simply worn out. I decided that I would stop in Marion because I didn't think I could make it to Abingdon.
I have 'traditional' places to stop and or eat along my route and Marion's Great Wall Chinese restaurant is one of them, so I stopped there to eat and look up motels in their phone book. I was so tired I was groggy, but, as I was eating, I decided I could ride on to one of two motels that were four and nine miles past Marion, respectively, instead of staying in town.
I rode out of Marion and, a mile or two outside of town, I saw a fellow pushing a loaded BMX bike (yep! - it had two large wire baskets with stuff in them, a duffle bag neatly fitted between them and stuff mounted across the top) Along the side of the road. I stopped and talked with him. He was headed to Abingdon - it sounded like he lived there - and he had a flat tire as a result, he said, of being hit by a car. I offered to try to repair his front tube, but he said it wasn't patchable. He was determined to make it to Abingdon that night and he was hoping someone would give him a ride. I rode on, but now I figured if he could make it to Abingdon, so could I!
The good meal, better wind conditions, and the example set by that guy with the BMX bike, got me functional again and I actually enjoyed almost all of my ride to Abingdon. I was feeling much better when I reached Abingdon than I had been feeling in Marion, but I was still exhausted and, ASAP, I went to bed for a good night sleep before the next day's long ride. I'm writing this after getting home because I had neither the time or the energy to write it during the last days of this tour.