April 24 - May 1: Kentucky

4/24 - Booneville (71.5 miles 678.5 total)
71.5 miserable miles to booneville, ky.
actually, the first 20 miles weren't miserable. we had a very nice breakfast in the college cafeteria, then left town around 7:45. temps were around 50 & winds were negligible. the first few miles were on back roads.
notice in the photo that marcia is already undergoing her first bikewear adjustment at just 3.5 mi.
she says she has a very narrow comfort zone, so you see her frequently along the way most days stopping to add & subtract various articles of clothing & pack or unpack her panniers. marcia is also the wearer of the altimeter watch, so she's our official source of the daily climb footage. furthermore, marcia wants me to point out that she enjoyed yesterday; she loves climbing hills & can climb every single one, even the staight-up ones.
soon we left the tranquil back roads & went onto a 4-lane state road with LOTS of traffic. the shoulders were ok, except that they had a solid strip of almost-continuous rumble bumps about a foot wide some 15 inches from the edge of the road. riding in that narrow strip off the road's edge but not in the rumble bumps wasn't so easy with monstrous coal trucks often roaring by, so most riders chose the shoulder space beyond the rumbles further away from the road's edge. the only problem there is that it's often littered with debris, & in these parts that means chunks of coal.
things soon got worse: the rains started. so when the coal trucks zoomed by, they sprayed us bikers from head to toe. & of course it was gritty highway water they sprayed at us. did wonders for the eyeglasses & bike mirrors, as you can imagine. by this time several bikers decided to go the sag route. by day's end about half the bikers had sagged in from various points on the route.
we thot that riding in the rain on the 4-lane highway with all the coal trucks & pickups was as bad as today could get, but nope: after 7 miles of that--which took a good 45 mins or more due to the hills on the road & the need to bike gingerly to avoid coal chunks--we turned onto another state road that was also full of coal trucks & lots of other traffic. that road, however, was 2-lane & the shoulders were very rough & crumbling & often muddy. our 5.5 miles on that stretch were the most harrowing of the day....in fact, of the trip so far.
after losing sari for a while (she spent an extra mile or so on the 4-lane highway because she missed the turnoff in the rain), the 3 of us finally reunited at the lunch stop. patti set up her cooking operation in a space off the road near a church just past the intersection where we finally got off that last harrowing highway. by the time we 3 arrived, all other bikers had either gone by or were sagging. the van was topped with several bikes & the bikers were keeping warm inside. we ate helpings of the delicious tortellini salad & of the leftover beef stew that patti had warmed up for us. water kept running off the edges of the canopy above us. & by that time we were chilled thru to the bone.
since the trailer was there, i got into my overnight bag & found my rainpants & my polar fleece jersey. i put on those items & started feeling warmer. by that time i had 4 layers on top...plus my wind vest & my rain jacket. going up hills i was very warm, going down i was chilly, but for the most part i was as comfortable as a soaked person can be on a cold spring day. there at the lunch stop phyllis decided to put on her goretex tights.
you'll notice in the photo how we 3 drowned rats looked at that point, with phyllis struggling to pull on her tights over her wet clothes. notice also the bikes on top of the van.
i think gloria thot we 3 would want to sag in with the others at that point, but we wanted to keep riding. at about 12:30 we took off in the rain for the last 32 mi of the day's ride. then the really steep hills began (they're not really hills; they call them mountains around here). there were 5 or more of them...one was REALLY steep...for a total daily climb of 4400, highest of the ride so far. last night my legs were so stiff after yesterday's climbs that i would never have guessed that i could climb another mountain...or even a hill...today. but fortunately (?), the cold & rain took my mind off my aching thighs.
a couple of times we 3 stopped for a short snack & once for relief at a potty al fresco, but stops had to be short or the cold would start us shivering again. i'm afraid i can't relate much about the landscape on such a dreary day. before the rain started i noticed yards filled with blooming azaleas & some wisteria, one of my favorites. & i DO know that we heard lots more chickens & roosters again today &, despite the rain, got chased by a few dogs. in one instance i had 2 dogs surround me, one at each ankle. i yelled at them & they finally ran off.
sue came out in the suburu to check on us around 3. she found us where we had sought shelter under the overhang of a desserted ice cream store. she filled our water bottles. she couldn't believe that we wanted to keep riding....& she particularly couldn't believe that we were having such a good time.
finally around 5:30 the 3 of us pulled into the goodman motel here in booneville. it's an older motel. there are no phones in the rooms nor closeby, so this report will be late. we've got wet clothes all over everywhere, especially on & around the old wall heater. you can imagine what a homey smell we've got going around here. unfortunately i didn't watch closely & left my socks on the heater too long near the grates & managed to singe the toes of my thorlos.
sari & i are rooming with jackie. after showering we had supper; patti had fixed a wonderful oriental stir-fry, one with chicken, one with tofu. sari did a lot of work on her bike to clean it up & lube it. she's been having lots of trouble with her gears/shifters. i just couldn't face doing anything more with my bike today & will probably be sorry tomorrow.
after having spent 10 hours on the road today, 8 of them in the rain (mostly light showers, with a few heavier ones thrown in from time to time), i wasn't looking forward to another rainy day (that's the forecast, at least for the morning) with another 70 mi to go. i guess others weren't so keen on that idea either. when gloria came by our room to talk about tomorrow's schedule, she said that she has found a short cut & pared down tomorrow's mileage to about 56. that sounds better.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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