Average Speed: 10.3 mph; Max Speed: 39.3 mph
Elevation gain: 3,347 ft
Average Temp: 83.9 F; Temp Range: 66.2-105.8 F
Happy Independence Day!
There is a certain amount of pleasure to be derived from riding in the pre-dawn hours. It is cool. There aren’t many vehicles on the road. You can sometimes spot animals when their eyes reflect your light. Dawn is pretty. One thing that is not a source of pleasure is the act of waking up and getting out on the road at that hour. Ugh. But once again, the forecast was for sunny and mid-nineties, so I did it.
Things were within the norm of the last few days before dawn: slow rolling hills traveling through farmland. Shortly after dawn, however, I wished I had gotten the name and address of the woman who warned me yesterday about the hills so I could send her a thank you card. Today was characterized by brief, strenuous rides uphill followed by even briefer trips down. And the cherry on top was the headwind. I suppose, given that I had a tailwind through the western part of Kentucky, I shouldn’t complain too much about the mild headwind I’ve been facing the last few days. But darn it, it’s annoying.
I met a few other touring cyclists today, which hasn’t happened in a few days. Inika (I might have spelled it wrong, it’s pronounced EE-nee-kah) and Mike from The Netherlands were the first riders I encountered. Like a number of people have before him, Mike commented on how I was the first solo woman he had encountered. Then he shook my hand and congratulated me. I then passed two young men who were college buddies. None of the conversations were very long, possibly because we were all mindful of the forecast and didn’t want to waste any of the cool morning hours.
Ultimately, though, it wasn’t the heat that wore me down today, it was the hills. Constant up and down. And the up was very up. At one point I shifted into my lowest chain ring up front, only the chan didn’t shift. The hill was so steep that I was concerned I would grind to a halt and topple over before I could get the chain to drop down properly. At other times, I was struggling to maintain 3.8 miles an hour while pedaling at what I estimate to be only around 55rpm. As a point of reference, I prefer to maintain a cadence around 80. In other words, the hills are steep.
Thankfully, today had even more trees than yesterday. And more houses. The towns weren’t large, but the road was more populated. This left me with the feeling that should something odd or unexpected happen, I was within easy enough reach of another human being.
A little before noon I encountered another eastbound rider. He had started in early May with his niece, but they parted ways in Missoula after deciding that they weren’t a good fit for riding buddies. He said he would be interested in riding with me for a ways, and I replied that I think I do best with meeting people at prearranged rest stops and end points than I do actually keeping pace with somebody on the road. I told him my goal for the night and my secondary goal should the hills and the heat persuade me to stop a bit earlier. He had been aiming for my primary goal, so when we parted, I waved goodbye and said that maybe I’d see him on the road or at the campsite tonight.
An hour later, a flatbed truck passed me by with his bike on the back. I’m hoping it was just because of the hills or the heat and not anything more serious.
I arrived at Fair Grove around 1PM. My primary goal, Marshfield, was 15 miles up the road, so I stopped at a gas station and bought a cold drink while I decided whether or not to go on. After looking at the maps, I realized that due to the spacing of towns, my stop two nights from now would be the same wherever I stopped tonight. The only difference was that by stopping earlier today, the mileage all three days would be a bit more evenly distributed.
Decision made, I went next door to the grocery store and then hunted down the area for camping. In Fair Grove, cyclists can camp on the ground of the Fair Grover Historical Society. There is an old mill next to a large field. In the field they have built a large pavilion and what looks like something that might be used as a concession stand for large events. In the concession stand building are restrooms and showers, though you have to call to get those unlocked.
The first thing I did when I arrived at the pavilion was eat the mini watermelon I had bought. It was cold and wonderful and everything a watermelon should be on the 4th of July in 90 degree weather. That was followed by a salad and a few other munchies. After eating what I might consider a late lunch, I stretched and read a bit before wandering up the street a bit to the historic district where there were two restaurants. To my complete lack of surprise, both were closed for the holiday. So tonight I had a pasta dinner.
One day I might have a forecast where the high is below 90, but tomorrow is not that day, so it looks like I’ll be off early yet again. I’m going to bed early, but somehow I expect this will all catch up with me shortly. Perhaps it’s time for me to take my second ever day off. But not tomorrow, I don’t think.
Roadkill count: 8 birds, 1 deer, 1 mouse, 2 possums, 1 skunk, 2 unknown mammals, 2 snakes, 1 frog