After a lusciously deep and rejuvenating 11 hour sleep, I woke up at 9am to find that I was alone at the campsite - all my fellow cyclists had apparently risen early and had charged into town with the sort of morning energy that is necessary on a riding day, but difficult (for me) to muster up on a layover day.
I enjoyed a healthy breakfast at camp before taking a relaxed & leisurely ride into town, where I met a few of the other bikers at the local coffee shop. The comfy and warm vibe there encouraged several of us to take over the place until early afternoon. Dolores treated me to a sugary iced cinnamon roll and Ellen, showing impressive patience and computer savvy, helped me post the blue flag thingies on the "track my progress" section of this blog (check it out!). To thank Ellen for this (and to encourage her to help me out with other things, such as pretending to be me and writing this blog post) I treated her to lunch at the cafe that was recommended to me by Tequila Joe, the grizzled character who was sitting outside the coffeeshop. Hubert joined us for lunch and we engaged in some lively conversation on several quite random topics.
After lunch I said bye to Hubert and Ellen and embarked on a mission to do some online ordering of supplies (cycling jersey, underpants, and less-hot Adidas hotpants to provide a replacement for the too-hot Adidas hotpants I'm currently carrying). Once this mission was successfully completed, I rode off to the Tennessee border, a 15 minute ride from Damascus, to see Bareback Rock (photos below), which is an impressive natural landmark that is also known as the world's shortest tunnel.
I cruised back to camp and ate a dinner of leftover goulash, secured my newly acquired American flag to my bike, refilled our stoves, drank a hot chocolate, and am now preparing to go to bed. We have several really tough riding days ahead of us, so I am hoping to have morale-boosting dreams of things like having absolutely gargantuan muscles that make me able to cycle the Appalachians effortlessly.
With luck this soggy and cold weather will have cleared up at least a bit by tomorrow.