After a good night's sleep, I woke up along with the other three guys that had spent the night at the baptist center. Right after the guys left, the woman in charge of maintaining the place stopped by along with 4 others. They offered me all kinds of foods and homemade candy and they even had a basket with free stuff that cyclists could take with them. These people were eager to give me all kinds of things but with the coming hills in mind, I tried to keep weight to a minimum, only helping myself to some toothpaste that I was running low on.
Within the first kilometer I hit the first big climb of the day with ridiculously steep gradient. In spite of being battle-hardened my the Cascades, Rockies and Ozarks, the Appalachian mountain range had until now been more tiring than the long steady climbs of the Rockies. I have a theory that some of these roads were laid before proper road making equipment was introduced, whereas the paved roads traversing the Rockies were made much later so that gradients were kept at a reasonable level. With the lack of that smallest ring on the crank, there was no regulation in the use of force to pace myself up. There was either give it everything you have, or come to a complete stop.
After making my way to Elkhorn City, I stopped at a supermarket to get something to eat and drink and do yesterday's writing before heading into another couple of intense ups and downs. The ride today was very beautiful with scenic treats like Breaks - the greatest canyon east of the Mississippi. I also stopped to pick up a stick to ward off some dogs, due to the vicious attacks I had been met with and I to be honest I was getting pretty sick of it.
By the time I got to Haysi, after several brutal climbs, I was so tired I couldn't tell up from down, so I sat down at a gas station for a bite to eat. I was accompanied by an older guy who had seen my bike and he shared amazing stories from all over the country. He had as a former truck driver been to all the lower 48 states and we both agreed on that the nicest people in the country live in the middle. He went on to explain how if you start at the middle of the country and make your way out towards either of the coasts, people are less likely to help you if you get in trouble. Although I personally find Americans to be generally nice all over, I find that if you ask for help or directions anywhere, people will try to help you but people are more likely to really go out of their way to get you what you need in the midwest.
Feeling a little better, I headed out again towards Council,VA where I had planned to spend the night. After a while I got to a beautiful park with a shelters and a pool and I sat down on one of e benches trying to call a number to verify that it was ok that I spend the night. After having tried multiple times with no answer, I sat there relaxing a bit before an older guy came over and started asking about the trip. I told him I wasn't able to reach the number I had been trying, so he pulled out his phone and made a call and got it all sorted out for me. He was there to keep an eye on a kid in the playground who's parents were drug abusers and he and his wife had taken it upon themselves to help kids like him. We sat there talking for a good hour and I learned he had worked as a crew member on a surveillance plane in the navy during the Korean war and he had some very fascinating stories to tell.