Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 13, KY Farmland

Day 13, Hudson, KY – Clay, KY 112 miles (1038 total)

Time on bike: 10:07:16

Avg: 11.8 mph

Daily Ascent: 6588 ft (59 ft/mile)

Max: 38 mph

I’m biking through Kentucky farm land! I thought the hills were supposed to disappear? So how did I climb 6500 feet today? Most of the day was through roller-coaster like hills. Fast ups and downs most of the day. I awoke to my host father (of sorts) opening the country store at 6:30am. There was already one Chevy pickup waiting in the parking lot by the time he opened, waiting for breakfast. He immediately got to work preparing biscuits (warming them up) and sausage and bacon. I ordered 2 sausage and biscuits, but I ended up only having to pay for one. That set me back $0.50. Over the next several minutes a total of 6 different farmers rolled in. Some for coffee, some for breakfast, but most to sit around and exchange one liners and talk about the weather. It was a beautiful way to start the morning.

A horrible scene occurred early in my ride this morning. It haunted me all day. A young, juvenile dog, playful enough to be a puppy but in a full sized dog’s body, saw me coming. He playfully ran towards me. What he didn’t see was the neighbor’s big truck, a Ford F-350 pull out across the street. I think the neighbor was too interested in the bike I was riding to notice the dog and 15 feet away from me I heard a distinct thump-thump, the way a vehicle makes passing over a speed bump. I was afraid to look back. I was sure to see a black lump in the road, but instead I heard the most awful howling from a dog clearly in shock and pain. I glanced behind me. The truck just kept on going. The dog limped off the side of the road, still howling, and I could see that it’s front leg was clearly broken. My initial instinct was to flee the scene. “It’s not my problem.” I told myself. So I peddled harder. I’d like to say that I turned around and got some help, but I didn’t. I rationalized that there was nothing that I could do. The dog may have to be put down. It may be euthanized even as I write this. What I know is that that image hung in my mind and bothered me all day.

On to a more pleasant note, I did get 112 miles in today. It was a beautiful day, highs around 85 but low humidity. A perfect summer day in many regards, through the rolling farm lands of KY. I encountered 4 other cyclists who were also going West. Two were going to San Francisco, a young man and woman. They were going a little too slow for my taste. We chatted for a while, mostly about the infamous family of 4 on one bicycle which we’ve all by now heard about but nobody has yet seen.

I’m well into my routine now. I wake up at 5am (I’m an early bird if you haven’t noticed) and I’m on the bike by 6:30 after a lunch of a bagel and peanut butter. Then around 10am I stop for a 30 minute break where I try to find a blueberry muffin for a snack. Then I cycle until 1pm and take an hour for lunch, hoping to find a Subway where I can get a foot long sub for $5 and save the other half for supper. By 4:30 it’s time for another 30 minute break. On my breaks, my shoes have to come off and my flip flops go on to really relax my feet. They get sore from all that peddling. Then by 7pm I try to find a place to sleep, which typically consists of a church, fire station, city park, or a friendly looking home along the route.

I’ve come to hate State Parks! Basically, a State Park is their way of saying, “We couldn’t farm this land because of the hills. Cyclists, knock yourselves out! J

This evening I settled in Clay, KY. A small town of about 1,200 people. It has 2 convenience stores, one which stays open all night and the other that closes at 9pm. It also has 1 restaurant which closes at 8pm. I pass through so many small towns on these “off the beaten path” roads. Here I pulled into a nice neighborhood near the city park and asked if cyclists camped out in the park. They didn’t seem to know but pointed me to the city councilman across the street and he said it was ok. I got to chatting with the neighbors. They were curious about how far I’d come and where I was going. They were so kind and helpful. They told me that I could shower at 2 of the churches in town. One man even called up the Baptist pastor and asked about the showers. “The janitor won’t be in until 7am tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait until then to shower.” I sleep so much better after a shower, but it’ll have to wait yet again. Ah well.

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