Excellent day of riding today. After yesterday I was really worried about what would happen today. Would I have to end the ride because I just couldn’t handle the traffic? Would someone make that decision for me by crashing in to me? All these negative thoughts swirled through my head. What’s worse, in the morning I went to the bathroom to grab my rear light that I’d left charging overnight to find that someone had stolen it. It’s the stupidest crime because it’s only worth $25 or so, so all it really does is make my riding more dangerous. I do have a backup but it is rather weak. Let’s just say I was in a bad mood leaving camp. It was around 6:45 as I pulled out and I had a decent climb out of the campground to get back to the route. As I rode the carless roads through the cool air that same calming effect biking usually has on my kicked in and I started to unwind. The sun also began to rise, melting the rest of ice off my heart and putting me in a good mood, against all odds
The route was up and down for the morning, without and huge climbs (but many shorter ones). As I rode towards the town of Vincent stray dogs lined the roadside and stared at me but didn’t give me any problems. I rode through Vincent without stopping and then stopped for a convenience store breakfast outside Booneville. At $8 it was a steal. I noticed fewer people come up and talk to me about the ride out here for some reason. I don’t think anyone asked today.
The fog was spooky around Booneville
I went and checked out a cyclist hostel at the back of the church in town. I don’t know if I was thinking about just calling it 20 miles in, I might have been. It was just a covered patio so I kept moving. I got my first real climb of the day a few miles outside town. It was long but not too steep, and shaded thankfully.
The day was getting hot though and I was drenched with sweat at the top. I stopped by a pile of discarded Bojangles chicken and watch the flies swarm it. Gross.
I descended and as I was going down saw something I haven’t seen before: a giant rock collapsed off the embankment off the side of the road, as I watched it. I rode through the dirt cloud
I continued in river valleys for a time and came across a cute little turtle on the side of the road. I moved him over into the grass, pointed toward the creek. I hope he takes my suggestion and goes that direction.
I came to the town of Buckhorn and grabbed some snacks. At this point I’m getting a soda at almost every convenience store. They’re too good to skip when it’s hit, and it’s definitely hot. I kept going and got to the first big climb of the day. It was steep, long an brutal. I was sweating buckets and pushing really hard to keep going. Eventually I made it up then reached a descent. The descent took me several hundred feet down, and I then had to climb back up those feet in long arcing sweeps of road. Right at the top, as I’m drenched in sweat and thirsty I see a roadside dairy bar. It’s in the middle of nowhere and shouldn’t really be where it is. I stopped and ordered an expensive (for Kentucky) burger and shake. They took a while to come out but when they did they were excellent. They were just what I wanted after that climb. I looked ahead on the map and realized that my planned destination, Hazard, despite being a big town had no indoor cyclist camping. After the camping last night I wanted to be indoors and I saw Hindman, 20 miles further, did indeed have a church with indoor lodging. I kept it in mind, then set off again. I had to climb one more final steep peak of this group of three before I was finished with them. As I descended, preparing to start the climb I saw a cyclist coming the other way. He had a huge purple trailer behind his bike. He told me it had a banjo. He was relocating to Pennsylvania, I think, to Missouri, and doing it mostly by bike. We swapped info on upcoming obstacles. We talked for a while (I’m talkative from travelling solo) then said goodbye. I completed the final climb without too much trouble then got a nice descent as a reward. I turned right onto a road that started busy but quickly became deserted. It was a bit of culture shock actually. This was a very poor area, and it showed. There was trash in front of every house, parked nonfunctioning cars everywhere, and bands of roving dogs. I didn’t feel unsafe so much as rude: I was riding through on a fancy bike on a grand adventure while the people here struggle to survive in hard low paying jobs against a backdrop of drugs, alcohol, gambling, and other social issues. I think the best way to describe it here was left behind.
Anyways, I had 2 large climbs in a 12 mile stretch and they were hard and steep. I think that’s pretty much going to be the story for the rest of the ride.
At one point, on a nice descent I slammed on my brakes as I came across construction with a traffic light. I waited for a while til they spotted me, then they let me and another car go. The other car almost got stuck trying to go around a truck.
A bit later, on the second climb a band of dogs walked down the street. I pulled out my pepper spray just in case, but they just looked at me and kept going.
This stretch was right by the Kentucky River. It was the same color as chocolate milk, when it was visible
I made it through here after at least an hour and hit highway 80. There was a gas station and I pulled in. I got a fountain soda and drank 3 refills worth of Pepsi. It was so so good. These climbs drain you of fluids quickly. I texted Paul, the other Eastbounder, to ask where he was going and he said Hindman, so I decided to go too. It was about 24 miles with one steep climb, not too bad. It was about 3:30 at this point so I’d been riding for a good while already. He was at a McDonald’s 4 miles away so I headed over but he was gone by the time I arrived. I got another soda and some m doubles then got back to riding.
There was a busy stretch as I left town (the town of Combs/Hazard, it’s one metro area) but that soon thinned out. I got the big climb out of the way then enjoyed the heck out of some riding on the north bank of A beautiful clear river. I didn’t take pictures because my phone was refusing to charge and I needed battery to get my lodging for the night, but I promise I was nice.
I rode through the small towns along the river (Emmalena and Carrie) and soon arrived in Hindman. I checked my map and it said that First Baptist Church was my destination. I saw a sign pointing up a steep hill so I rode up it. It was crazy steep, and as I got to the top a guy in a car pulled up and told me the hostel was actually at the bottom. Lol. I descended back down and went inside. The guy was named Steve and he was the pastor. He and his large family of adorable children live next door. The hostel has wifi, couches, video games, and more. There’s even a pizza place across the street. Even better, Paul was here. We commiserated about the climbs that day then he grabbed a shower. I charged my phone (seems to work fine in wall outlets?) and messed around until I got my shower. We then headed over to the pizza place across the street and got some excellent pizza. We caught up on our ride so far and our lives. Turns out Paul lives in LA, just north of me in San Diego.
We swapped stories and had a great time. Now it’s 10:45 and I need sleep. We’re getting up at 6, so night!
- Summer sausage
- Cliff bar
- Chocolate milk
- Carrot cake
- 2x mcdouble
- Pepperoni pizza (10 inch)
- Protein shake