Archive for October, 2009

Day 39, Over the hills and far away

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

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We didn’t have to check out of our hotel until noon, so we thought we’d take the morning off and cleanup our bikes and hang out with Kate and Kara. I finally replaced my worn rear tire with a new Schwalabe, which are supposed to be top of the line for touring/durability tires. We hosed down our bikes to get ride of the fine limestone dust which had coated them while riding the Katy Trail, and degreased/re-oiled our drivetrains.

We were hoping to hit the nearby Golden Corral for an all you can eat breakfast buffet but saddly realized it was only served on the weekends. We’d have to substitute that massive caloric onslaught with a trip to Denny’s.

Eventually it was time to say goodbye to Kate and Kara. It was awesome of them to drive over three hours each way to come and spend the evening/morning with us, not to mention treating us to a hotel stay and dinner. Tip of the hat to Kate and Kara. It was tough to leave the comfort and company of friends/family in Carbondale, but we do have a destination to reach. Being in Carbondale had special meaning for me on this morning. Today was the 5th anniversary of my Mom passing away from cancer, and Carbondale is where she attended college as a young woman. I wish she had the opportunity to meet my riding partner.

After riding 54 miles through some pretty hilly countryside, we decided to call it a day in Eddysville at about 6PM. There aren’t a lot of services in this area so we asked the proprietor of the local minimart/gas station if we could pitch our tent out back in the grass, she graciously agreed. Tomorrow we cross into Kentucky.

Day 40, Kentucky, unbridled spirit

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

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We awoke this morning and everything was damp from dew and from a very light drizzle that would continue to dog us for the rest of the morning. We packed up and had a quick breakfast at the mini- mart and headed out towards Kentucky.

We made it to the Ohio river and our much anticipated ferry crossing by late morning. The ferry ride was a little anti-climactic. It was just a small tugboat pulling an equally small barge, the whole trip lasted about 10 minutes. But then, we were in Kentucky! Our second to last state. We hit another milestone today as well – 2,800 miles, which means we have less than 1,000 until the end of our trip.

We continued to make good time the rest of the day and reached our destination, the first baptist church in Sebree, KY. The pastor, Bob, and his wife, Violet, regularly house cyclists in the youth center of the church. We have a shower and laundry and even mattresses. Bob and Violet were even nice enough to invite us up to the house for dinner with their family. It was our first home-cooked dinner since we left Andrea’s way back in our first week. Lasagna and sweet tea never tasted so good. I had second helpings and Mike had thirds. And then we had angel food cake with strawberries and ice cream for desert. It was a wonderful way to end our day. Special thanks to Bob and Violet, for taking such good care of us. Tomorrow we move further into Kentucky, one day closer to home.

-Sarah

Day 41, More Kentucky hills

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

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We really enjoyed our night at the Baptist church in Sebree. A hot shower, home cooked meal, laundry, and friendly company is a wonderful combination. I believe they’ve hosted somewhere around 225 cyclist this season alone. They come from not only every corner of this country, but also from Europe, New Zealand, and one from Korea. Who knows how many additional cyclist pass through unaware of the haven, or just not ready to call it a day.

The ride today was pretty uneventful. We managed to dodge yet another storm system that had passed through during the night, while we slept safely sheltered. The weather during the day was gorgeous. Bright, clear, and crisp barely breaking 70 degrees. The hills are gradually getting taller but still manageable. We’ve been passing through chicken country, as we regularly get the distinct odor of large hen houses. Today we also began to pass through the occasional tobacco field and could spot the large leaves hanging to dry in nearby barns, or on one occasion on racks covered by tarps outside.

We decided to call it a day at 81 miles. The sun was getting low and on the winding hilly roads visibility starts to become an issue. We reached a nice campground with showers at a little lake just off Rough River outside McDaniels KY.

Day 42, State of contradiction

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

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We got up early today expecting a long ride of 90 miles to Bardstown. Losing daylight has increasingly become an issue so we wanted to make sure we reached our destination before running out.

After reviewing the map and our route we noticed that if we continued to stay on route 62 we could take a more direct path to Bardstown. The adventure cycling routes often take a lot of twists and turns to stick to smaller roads and hit points of interest. By taking a more direct path we were likely committing ourselves to a busier road and we would miss passing through Lincoln’s birthplace. On the other hand we’d be shaving up to 25 miles off our day.

Before hitting route 62 we finally reached the Eastern timezone, our fourth. We also crossed paths with another set of three long distance riders heading West. Each time we pass West bound riders, we think they must be the last. The Rockies get difficult to pass in Fall because of storms and snow. These guys have been on the road for five months. They had started in Oregon and ridden across the Northern tier of the country to Maine. Then they had ridden South to the transam trail to take it back West. They didn’t seem particularly concerned about the Rockies and were in no particular rush. They were content roaming the countryside on their bikes, rough camping and living a Spartan life.

Something we’ve noted about Kentucky as we’re traveling through is the contradictions. There are a lot of churches (primarily baptist and methodist) and religion is very important. We have spent a majority of our time here in dry counties. At the same time Kentucky is the birthplace and center of the bourbon industry. Another major vice tobacco is also pervasive. In Kentucky vice and faith are closely intertwined.

Just before reaching Bardstown we rode our 3000th mile. It’s hard to believe but we now have somewhere around 800 miles left and each day we ride cuts a major chunk out of that. When we reached Bardstown, we realized it is the bourbon capital of the world and decided to visit the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center. Heaven Hill is one of the largest locally owned bourbon producers. It was surrounded by large stark white buildings which we later found out are filled with barrels of bourbon being aged. We took the mini tour and got to sample some single barrel bourbon. We left the center slightly heavier hauling bourbon in our bags.

Day 43, These hills have dogs

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

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Another day in the hills of Kentucky. The morning started off disturbing as we overheard from the motel room next to us, alternating loud smacks or spanks, followed by moans. Luckily we did not notice this until we were clearing out off the room at around 7:30 am. We had difficulty containing our laughter despite our groggy state. I guess that’s one way to start a Sunday morning. We decided to start our morning with an all you can eat breakfast buffet. Non stop tender biscuits is a beautiful thing.

Our goal today was Berea about 92 miles and countless hills away. The roads in Kentucky aren’t great. The hills offer limited sight lines and there are no shoulders. Even though there isn’t much traffic, what traffic there is has difficulty passing us because of the limited sight lines. They usually have to wait until there is a short straight away long enough to see if there is any oncoming traffic, so they can cross the center line. For the most part everyone has been considerate, and only occasionally do we get cars/trucks cutting it a little close.

Other than more tobacco fields and regal horses, one of the hilights of our hilly rides through Kentucky are the loose dogs. There are hundreds of accounts by cyclists of the mad dogs of Kentucky. One pair of riders we passed heading West claimed they has 66 dog encounters passing through Kentucky. In preparation for our Kentucky passage we purchased a can of Halt dog mace. We don’t expect to use it, but just in case an encounter gets out of control we’ll be prepared. We’ve only had a couple close calls so far. Most loose dogs haven’t strayed too far beyond the end of their driveway. Several have been discouraged by oncoming traffic. On one occasion the owner came out and settled their dogs down. The few close calls amounted to snarling dogs coming within a few inches of my ankles and chasing us 50-100 feet down the road. Usually we try to calm them down by slowing down and talking to them. So far Halt firepower hasn’t been necessary.

One of the points of interest we passed along the way a replica of the Lincoln homstead where Abraham Lincoln’s father was raised. We reached the outskirts of Berea at around 6:30 after 93 miles of Kentucky hills. We were beat and didn’t have much time to hunt for a campsite so we opted for a motel again. Hopefully our neighbors aren’t spankers this time. Much to my disappointment Berea is a dry town. No cold beer for me tonight.


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