All around huge day today. Lots of miles, lots elevation, lots of pain, lots of euphoria, and a huge milestone. I got up at 6 and it was pitch black outside. I got ready and Paul did the same. I had a small breakfast of leftover salad, poptarts, and protein shake. Maybe not so small. We left around 6:30, doing our best to beat the heat. We didn’t really succeed, it was already hot and muggy. Here’s Paul in the morning, sporting a trash bag on the back of his bike for the economy bike touring look.
We turned onto a surprisingly busy road, and we soon realized it was because of Alice Lloyd College located in town. We stopped at a small gas station under construction with a nice old lady behind the counter. Sheade us bacon egg and cheeses which were excellent. She had a bunch of computer equipment on the counter from the construction which was funny. She told us she doesn’t touch it. We climbed up a warmup grade them descended down it, finding a deserted road and a pretty view. It seems all the traffic really was going to the college.
Paul is faster on that flats than I am so I struggled a bit to keep up. We made it to another convenience store at the bottom of a climb and got some snacks to fuel up. The climb was steep and decently long but we were fresh and it went quickly. It was already hot though and we were both soaked with sweat. On the climb a truck going the opposite direction came around a corner fast, half in our lane. I veered into the grass shoulder and stop. Paul wasn’t expecting that and stumbled and managed to not fall himself, but his bike toppled over. I apologized and we agreed to call out when we’re stopping.
We rode through Bevinsville where I think we stopped, but I can’t quite remember. We kept going and rescued another turtle in the road.
We descended down a very bad road surface with massive potholes and cracks everywhere and did our best to avoid them. We came to the town of Vergie and stopped at a convenience store for drink. In there a nice man told us the food options in town, the Sunshine Diner. After I finished a huge fountain soda we headed over. I got a double bacon cheeseburger, cheesy fries and a milkshake, which were all truly amazing. I’m loving these dairy bar stops during climbing days. We got on a road that leads out to what I would incorrectly call an interstate but what people here call the ‘four lane’. We got a great shoulder for a bit, then turned onto the four lane and rode that for a few miles. It was freaking hot. It was about 2:30 and being in the sun was brutal. The weather app said 95, with really high humidity, but on that blacktop the heat was almost unbearable. After only 10 miles or so of flattish riding I was ready for another stop so we went to another dairy bar and got sodas. Another customer told us about an alternate route. The route we were planning had 2 big climbs over 20ish miles. The alternate would have us ride the four lane for an extra ten miles with no/minimal hills. For whatever reason I was excited to test myself against this climb which people on cars said was hard. Paul was up for it, but preferred the four lane alternate because his legs were not feeling very spry. I pressured him to take the steep hill route and he agreed. We went fast through the sun with shade on the lower flatter section of the climb. By the time we reached the steep bit of climbing Paul looked rough and asked to stop. We did for a while then rode for all of 50 feet before we stopped again. This was really rough going. This must be one of the steepest grades on the ride, I hope. Paul walked while I rode. I asked him how he felt, if he was in any danger and he said no. I said I was gonna ride to the top and he said fine. I left him and rode up. I passed this section of decaying road
I stood at the top and talked with an ADT tech in his car who had to come up to the top of the mountain for service. A car came by that would have passed Paul. I asked them how he looked and they said not good. I decided to ride down and check on him. He was suffering in the heat: this climb had little shade, and pushing means even less cooling effect from sweat. I worried he was getting heat exhaustion so I asked him his name and what state he was in and he seemed with it. I got off and pushed my bike with him for a bit, then we just got off the road and sat for a while. It was necessary, the heat was dangerous. Paul looked a bit better after the rest and I assured him we were close to the top. We pushed the rest of the way up, past the falling road, and got rewarded with a view.
I asked Paul if he was ok, because if we did this descent we’d be required to climb our way out. He said yes so we descended down a long steep wonderful road into a small little holler. We stopped at a stop sign and as Paul was getting ready to move he fell over getting unclipped. He and the bike were ok, but it was scary: his head came within inches of smacking the guardrail. We went to a gas station and met a really nice clerk who pulled up 2 stools for us to sit on and cool down. We must have looked half dead. We cooked off and talked with some local characters about the ride. They wished us we’ll one guy drove up and warned us that there was heavy rain up the road. Crap. We got underway because there wasn’t much we could do. The rain was indeed coming down, butthe worst of it had passed. The sun was shining brightly but the rain was still coming down. I got this photo as we left town. This is representative of many of the one road towns around here
We had our final big club to go and we got started. It ended up being a let down. It was a mellow grade for the most part, just a bit long. We celebrated at the top then descended basically 15 miles along a stream to Elkhorn city. In town we called ahead to our lodging, a hotel at the Breaks Interstate Park. They confirmed they had availability but were only open til 8 and that the restaurant was closed. We got some grocery store dinner in town then got riding. This section would take us over the border. Unfortunately, Paul had been looking at his elevation profile and he said it looked steep. He was right. We got some climbig out of town, then a massive downpour started. I said ‘Kentucky is throwing everything it’s got at us right at the end’. There was thunder too, loud booming claps of it. We rode over a beautiful bridge with a nice view of the imposing surrounding mountains.
We got a nice descent, and the rain even let up as we entered the state. Then the rain picked up again and we hit a huge steep climb. It was probably because we were tired but this was a seriously tough climb. The rain didn’t make it easier, particularly as the thunder sounded closer and louder. Nick, from a few days ago had a theory that when you enter a new state you get a burst of energy. I don’t believe it after today. We finally rounded the top of the climb, rode though a small town, climbed again, and only then did we reach the entrance to the park. And then there was a super steep climb in the park. We basically climbed directly to the lobby. I felt so spent after we went in, it was crazy. I got a bunch of soda and my own room for the night. I got in the shower and it was one of the best of the trip. I was cold and wet and dirty, and I needed to feel clean. I at the bad food I got at the convenience store and drank my sodas and felt much better. I relaxed for a bit then went to Paul’s room and planned out tomorrow. 30ish miles and some big climbs but should be somewhat easier, we’ll see. Apparently there’s another cyclist here. I hope we meet him tomorrow. I need sleep, night!
- Bacon egg and cheese
- Naked juice
- Carrot cake
- Double bacon cheeseburger
- Cheese fries
- Corn dog
- Pizza stick
- Ice cream
- Fish sandwiches