If I go too many days without riding up there I start to miss Rice Farm Road like a person. Also, the road itself will get surprisingly annoyed if I go too long without a visit. I can gauge HOW annoyed based on when it decides to start chatting. If it’s 2/3 of the way up the hill I know it’s pissed, because it knows I’m too winded to speak … and/or offer a defense to whatever it’s about to say.
“Hey, long-time-no-see! You been busy?” This is not really a question so no space is left for an answer. “I hear you’ve been over on Stage Road … in Chesterfield … ‘New Hampshire.’”
It always puts New Hampshire in air quotes for reasons that are unclear, beyond just throwing some nebulous, municipal shade. A VT/NH thing.
“It’s pretty nice over there … for a paved road … if you’re into that sort of thing.”
I offer an affirmative grunt that is identical to any counterfactual grunt of disavowal.
“Some great views…” RFR says.
“Of course, you know what you’re looking at over there … the western skyline you see from your paved road in ‘New Hampshire’… You’re looking at me. I don’t just HAVE the best views, sugar, I AM the best view.”
I grunt another affirmative, but it doesn’t care. I reach the summit and coast down the west side of Black Mountain, to the river, in dusty silence.