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  • Writer's pictureJoy Ma

Day 8: Spicy Climbs to Tazewell

Draper, VA -> Tazewell, VA

72.6 Miles 5,550 ft elevation gain

Hey y’all, it’s Andrew again. Can’t believe it is already Day 8 of the Spokes trip. Today, we went from Draper to Tazewell and was filled with adventure (and mishaps), but overall a fun day.

Shortly after leaving Draper, we went on the River Walk trail and along it, there was a mountain biking obstacle course. Me being the adventurous person, decided to try the ramps for the first time. Also me being a clumsy person, went too fast and overconfident on the second ramp (shortly after this photo was taken). I misjudged the width of the wooden boards and my rear tire slipped off the platform. This led to me doing a front tuck roll with my bike as I slid into the gravel. Fortunately, all I got was a minor cut on my elbow, and a bruised shoulder (and ego).

Since Spokes is a student-run program, each of us have a dedicated role to make sure the trip runs smoothly. As a member of the cycling club at MIT and the only one with Strava Premium, I route plan each day. Finding an appropriate route from Draper to Tazewell was quite difficult. Between the two towns, there was a massive forest that has steep and long climbs. However, trying to go around it meant traversing on a busy interstate highway or taking a long detour that added an extra 20 miles (to an already long day). As a result, we did a compromise where we went through sections of the forest to bypass the highway, but this meant the two giant climbs. The first climb, it was 700 ft in 2 miles. This was the warm up to the second climb, that was 1100 ft in roughly the same amount of distance. Needless to say, it was a grind, especially since we only started biking long distance a few days earlier!

A common trend on the road we noticed is seeing deceased animals. So far, I’ve seen snakes, groundhogs, birds, possums, deer, and the list keeps going. However, this was the first time we saw a LIVE tortoise in the middle of the road. Once we saw it still move, we decided to pause and quickly ushered it to the grass field so it can continue to keep living.

For the night, we stayed at the Stras Memorial Episcopal church and they were so generous to us! Not only did they provide a last-minute place to sleep, they also bought us pizza and dessert for dinner! It was very much needed carbohydrates, especially after the two massive climbs we did earlier in the day.


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