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Day 21 - Athens Ohio to Buckhannon, West Virginia
126 miles
5410' climbing

After a week of relatively flat stuff, we were in for a great change as we entered the Appalachian Mountains. I heard that Ed and Fred complained about the fresh legs (of Mark and John Royer) that were brought in to humiliate them in the mountains. I was wishing for some fresh legs, but I'd just have to make do with the ones I had.

I noticed Dan carving out a hole in the middle of a spenco pad for Ann's saddle. She liked the idea of the hole in the Miyata saddle, but found the rear of the saddle a little too firm, so they were trying her old saddle with the pad, but missing the middle. This seemed to do the trick for the rest of the trip. It's amazing how a saddle you find comfortable on a century suddenly becomes unbearable when you do 24 centuries in a row.

My achilles problem seemed to be much better, although I'd get a twinge every now and then. I'd just take it a little easy when I did. I had perfect gears for the mountains and took advantage of it. I was happily spinning my way up the hills, while others were standing and grinding. The coal trucks made the day a little more exciting as they went barreling past with very little clearance, and at one point we hit a stretch of road that was the type depicted in films that moonshiners used to go blasting down at high speeds trying to evade revenuers. Actually, it really was starting to look like home (North Carolina, not Boston).

At lunch, Susan kept telling us how dull and small Buckhannon was and not to be in any sort of rush to get there. I didn't notice that it was different from any other town, since all I did at each town was eat, get a massage, pack for the next day and sleep each night. It wasn't like I had time or energy to go dancing or shopping or sightseeing at the end of each day.

I was a little disappointed to find that the town was actually about 8-10 miles further than the cue sheet indicated. Usually if there was an error, it was in our favor, but this time, we were way off. I really started to worry if I had passed the turnoff, until I saw Ann and Dan's tandem about 1/2 mile ahead.

I found some postcards that expressed my sentiments exactly. They said "Country Roads Take Me Home." Only three more days of torture, uh I mean vacation. I was definitely ready to do something different, even if it was going back to work, and only having to ride 22 miles a day on my commute. I missed my cats and my friends, and I was tired. I developed some really special friendships along the way, but I was really getting tired. This is a long, long trip.

The hotel was really quaint and the restaurant looked wonderful. I had dinner there with Nancy, John and John's roommate, Louis. Despite having pie and cookies for dessert, John and I headed down to the local Dairy Queen for a blizzard after writing a few postcards and getting a massage. On the way, we ran into Pete and Joanne, heading back with ice cream. I asked what I'd have to pay him to get him to ride next to me the following day and push me up all the hills. The following day was listed as the hardest of the entire trip with almost 11,000 feet of climbing. It scared me a little, make that a lot! I also began to notice a trend that Pete was also always able to find ice cream. I wonder if eating ice cream every night will make me a good climber like Pete?