Day 58: (Lexington, KY to) Bryantsville, KY to Boonville, KY
Average Speed: 11.0 mph; Max Speed: 33.6 mph
Elevation Gain: 5,364 ft
Average Temp: 84.2 F; Temp Range: 62.6-100.4 F
One rest day and my body is totally ready to go back to my normal night owl habits. By which I mean it was harder to wake up this morning than it was yesterday. Maybe my brain was trying to lure me into staying longer in hopes of ending more days with milk and cookies like I did last night, but I have a ride to complete, so I crawled out of bed and set about getting ready. Coffee, cereal, and a hard-boiled egg got me fueled, and Cousin Andy and I had the car loaded, looking a bit like a game of Tetris, by 7AM.
He brought me back to a driveway a few hundred feet shy of the furthest point I had cycled to on the 16th, and as we drove up the last side road he commented on the roller-coaster hills I had been riding. I’ve mentioned the seemingly endless hills before, but it’s nice when another person sees them and concurs. It was a bit shy of 8AM when we got everything set and loaded and I pedaled off into the sunrise, looking like a total goofball as I did so.
It was a beautiful morning, cool and sunny with low humidity. What a joy to ride in nice weather. It did get warmer over the course of the day, but I was rarely uncomfortable due to the temperature. The hills, on the other hand, frequently made me uncomfortable.
Two days ago, I had planned to meet Cousin Andy in Berea, but the torrential rain and lightning ended my day early. Today I got to Berea after 30 miles of rolling hills. What I saw of it fits my mental image of a rural college town. There were farms on the outskirts of town, brick buildings that would have fit with the aesthetic of my own alma matter, Bucknell University, and a nice downtown area that I wouldn’t have minded exploring a bit.
Then I switched maps! Ten map sections down, 2 to go!
I may not be in the Appalachian Mountains just yet, but today had several good climbs. Map section 10, which ended in Berea, had an elevation profile with a scale of 250 ft per horizontal line. The map that I started today has the scale set to 1,000 ft instead. Most of the major elevation gain will happen after I get to Virginia, but I’m already feeling the difference. Even now that I’ve been done riding for a few hours, my legs are reminding me of the hills I climbed.
I made a few stops today in small towns along the way. In one town I stopped for some caffeine. Before I got in line to pay, a gentleman sitting at a table struck up a conversation with me about the ride. By the time we finished, I had finished my drink. I put my now empty cup on the table and the cashier waved me away saying it was taken care of. I don’t know if it was him or someone else, but that was very kind of somebody. In another town, I was glad to leave. In Sandgap, I stopped at a Dollar General to buy a drink. There were a number of guys who were either already there or came while I was there whose body language screamed “Just give me a reason to show you what a tough guy I am.” I finished my snack and moved on quickly, happy to be gone.
Around mid afternoon, I crossed paths with a westbound rider. They’ve been growing more and more scarce as the summer wears on, so it was nice to stop and have a chat. Ed is from England and was as happy to share knowledge of what was ahead for me as he was to get my opinion on what he would face. I told him that the Ozarks were steep, warned him about the guy living out of his car in the park in Springfield, and commented that the dogs haven’t really been that bad.
No, really, I’m serious. Yes, I encountered a lot of dogs today, but absolutely none of them scared me. Two ran with me, one for over a mile. Several came up and essentially made it known they were protecting their territory, and most of those were called back by their owners. I stopped for some, but not a single one of them had body language that suggested they’d attack me. Chase the bike because it was fun, yes, which is its own kind of dangerous, but not bite unless provoked. The worst that happened was I walked away for a bit, at which point a car pulled up, distracted the dog, and waited for me to ride away before they passed me by.
Anyway, we had a nice chat, and he told me that the church I wasted to stay in in Booneville wasn’t taking people in because of a death in the family, which he had heard from a rider named John. I’m betting that’s the same John I was riding with not long ago. Between my detour to Mammoth Cave and my rest day yesterday I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he’s ahead of me. Maybe I’ll get to see him in a few days.
The rest of the ride was more or less uneventful. Despite what Ed said about the church, I figured I’d go check it out anyway. There wasn’t a number to call, and it was listed as cyclists only camping, not cyclists only lodging, so I wondered if John hadn’t been talking about some place else. In the back of the church is a big pavilion and between it and the church is a smaller building with a sign. The sign welcomes cyclists, and asks them to sign in to their guest book. The smaller building also houses a shower and a sink, though the toilet is a port-a-potty that is disgustingly full.
I was here for a few hours when another rider pulled up. Jimmy is headed eastbound on the TransAm, but he’s not riding the TransAm Trail, he’s cycling around the world. Yes, you read that right. He started in Australia, where he’s from, and is following all the formal rules for a round the world cycle with the potential to set or tie the record for being the youngest ever to complete the journey.
And now the sun has finally dipped behind the trees, making it just possible that I could start thinking about sleep soon!
Roadkill count: 4 birds, 1 deer, 1 fox, 1 possum, 2 raccoons, 2 rabbits, 5 unknown mammals, 2 turtles, 2 frogs