Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 10 KY Horse Park, to Carter, Kentucky

On the last morning of the ride, I woke before sunrise and was on the bike by 0730. The sun came up over the pristine fields and fences of the of this grand public farm as I rode around the park looking for a restaurant to eat breakfast. I was informed the restaurant was under renovation and my next best/closest option was a Mcdonalds. Getting there was a detour that would take some time and add about 3 miles to the longest ride I had ever attempted. Fortunately, if I could have chosen any 3 mile stretch of road to add to my trip, it would have been something very close to this one. Riding out of the bluegrass was a lovely experience. Riding into Flemingsburg was less so. The road was crowded with trucks. The wind was blowing hard against me. It was overcast and I actually got cold for a short time, which I could feel was robbing me of energy. I stopped in Flemingsburg to reconsider my options. I was 60 miles into the ride by 2 PM and too far North to consider camping again in any of the campgrounds to the South. I called Amanda to see of there was any route that was more forgiving than the one I had chosen off of a 2 dimensional road map of Kentucky. I was tired and frustrated and committed to a route I was not confident I could complete. I drank some coffee for warmth and artificial energy. Then I left Flemingsburg before I could agonize myself into a hole I couldn’t climb out from prior to the sun going down. The signage was bad so I almost immediately took a wrong turn and realized it after climbing a substantial hill. I got back on track with the help of a carpenter who knew a county road heading east. Not far out of Flemingsburg I went over a little mountain pass and on the other side the sun came out and the wind abated. There were orchards along the ridge and some of my favorite wildflowers lining the road. After a long descent I arrived in Lewis County and was greeted with about 15 miles of picturesque flat road through the county neighboring my destination. People on the side of the road looked at me like they had never seen a guy on a bike. I assume this was because they knew the reality of getting to this place meant one would have to ride over some very demanding terrain. I hopped on a road heading a bit south and east and found myself back in the hills. I might not have had the stamina except that the scenery was so beautiful it was energizing to see what was at the top of each climb. After a couple more hours of pedaling I arrived in Carter, KY. I had ridden 106 miles. My brother met me on the road with the much needed beer and sandwich I had telepathically requested earlier in the ride. I rode in my brother's truck with the windows down back to his house. I took a bath and tried not to fall down while attempting to use my legs. The trip across Kentucky was complete. My first 100 mile ride was logged. I slept like a rock in a familiar bed for close to 12 hours. In all the trip was difficult but mostly awe inspiring. I have a renewed sense of place, and my life will be richer because of it. I am extremely thankful to all who supported me before and during the trip. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone to do any version this trip or join me next year for what will hopefully become the second annual Tour du Kentucky. Aba di aba di aba di, That's all folks!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 9 Louisville KY, to the Kentucky Horse Park (Lexington, KY)

The recent memory of the difficulty of the 89 mile day to Louisville weighed heavy on the morning of my departure. I knew more would be asked of my body than it was going to give comfortably. I guess adventures are not really complete without at least a little deprivation, anguish, and pain. I chose a different route for leaving Louisville than when I had arrived and botched it after about 6 miles. It cost me 3 more miles but losing the time was the most discouraging thing. I wasn’t really logging miles going East until about 1130 AM which meant I would be arriving to Lexington late if I didn’t pick up the pace. I had seen everything already between Louisville and Shelbyville and though there was a time crunch I took a nap at Todd’s point under a Silver Maple at the entrance of a horse farm. I woke up to a tractor moving and mowing in my direction. I pressed on through Shelbyville and into Frankfort. I got directions from a guy on a really tall and twitchy horse (16 ¼ hands) named Marlin. His rider had rescued him from an abusive home in Indiana. Though the pair had a visually commanding presence the beauty of the horse combined with the rider’s soprano voice and smooth accent made the pair very approachable for an exchange of pleasantries. From there it was on to Frankfort, the capitol of Kentucky and a good place to get pizza. So I did. The afternoon was hot. I waited until a little after 5PM to leave for the horse park. I thought it would be an easy 20 miles or so but it proved more difficult. I arrived at the campground about an hour before the sun went down. It was just enough time to take a dip in the pool, set up camp, discover my stove was not working, and call in for backup should I break down over the next 24 hours. The next day I had the option of biking about 70 miles to the lake I had already been to, or push for Carter Caves State Park, a favorite family recreational area. I decided to go for Carter Caves, which was over one hundred miles away from my starting point.

Day 6, 7, and 8. Louisville, KY

This town is the most hospitable city I have ever lived in or visited. Everyone I meet seems to have something interesting to offer in the way of friendship, guidance, or hospitality. For 3 days I romped around and rode my bike back and forth across my favorite neighborhoods. On Sunday, my last evening in town, I was privileged to a ride on a pontoon boat going downriver below the falls of the Ohio. The current was strong, and the engine was finicky, we discussed a water bound trip to New Orleans with very few dissenting opinions. An interesting historical note is that the Falls of the Ohio was also the initial meeting place of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Nine members of the Corps of Discovery were recruited from Kentucky. expedition. I especially liked the tale of “York”. He was the slave who became the first African American to cross the continent. The Native Americans believed he had great spiritual power on account of his stature and complexion. While in Louisville, my hosts Peyton and Jenny were awesome. They live in a very cool house with lots of soulful aesthetically pleasing amendments. Staying there for three nights was exceptionally nice, and very appreciated. Some of the most beautiful carpentry and fine woodworking I have seen can be viewed on their facebook page. Their company is called birdsquare carpentry.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 6 Revisiting the Garden

After a nice long sleep, I got to ride my bike across town to Americana community center where I worked before attending nursing school.

Most who know me have heard me discuss this part of my life with great fondness for the opportunity to function in the most unique environment I had ever been employed. The best part was building the garden. Now it has grown mature and continues to make me proud. Here are some pics…

Day 5 Lexington KY, to Louisville, KY

In the morning after a hearty breakfast, I rode West out Versailles road past Calumet horse farm and Keenland on my right. On my left was 4-6 lanes of traffic for about 8 miles to Versailles and into Woodford County. I rode over the Kentucky River and into Anderson county, which smelled like bourbon from the Wild Turkey Distillery. I ate lunch after the first 50 miles at a bustling crossroads country store where everyone seemed really animated in comparison to the relative stillness of the past few hours of riding. Motorcyclists from New York were leaving as a pedal biker from North Carolina arrived. I told him he shouldn’t wear his Duke shirt while riding anywhere in Kentucky for safety reasons. He said he was at the game when Christian Laettner hit his miracle shot cementing his status throughout Kentucky as a super-villain. He was a forester so we talked about trees. I left traveling North with the intention of going West and figured it out in Shelbyville in Shelby county. Instead of backtracking I rerouted and decided to approach Louisville from the North and East. I called Peyton and Jenny and they graciously offered to put me up for the night. Having a destination was comforting and helped ease the pain of the last 20 miles through industrial areas and suburbs around Louisville in Oldham and Jefferson County. There was already a dinner party planned, so we had some more bourbon and delicious homemade Mexican food. I slept in the next day.

Day 4 – Stanton, KY to Lexington, KY

I woke up to the sound of overflowing gutters. The 30% chance of rain forecasted the night before was now a flood watch. I waited to depart until 900AM. The first ten miles through Powell and Clark County were only a little damp. Then the rain picked up and I was soaked. I thought of encouraging words people have told me while being pelted by the rain during descents. My feet were squishy with water when I got to Winchester. I ate biscuits and gravy at Stinky and Coco’s restaurant on main street. The talk was of horses, family, and recipes. I left revitalized and continued my entrance into the bluegrass region of Kentucky through Fayette County. I passed horse farm estates sprawled out over the foggy undulating landscape for another 20 miles until arriving to Lexington. I visited another family friend Seth at his amazing house under renovation in the historic district of town. From there I went a few blocks to another amazing house house where he lives with his wife Renee and son Logan. I took an Epsom salt bath in the claw foot tub and rode around with Seth and Logan after school while we discovered our lives had been closely parallel over the last few months. We had been on the same hiking trails in Virginia and seen the same concert recently. The discovery about the concert occurred as the wife of one of the musicians from the concert walked in the store where we were talking. It turns out the musician is currently on a bike tour in California with his cello. The coincidence was dizzying. That night we ate pasta puttanesca (translates as “whore’s pasta” in Italian) that was marvelous and consistent with my transient nature and high calorie requirement. Then there was bourbon, sleep, breakfast, and the biggest mile day of the trip.

Day 3 – Cave Run Lake to Red River Gorge

On this beautiful cool weather day, I was able to ride the ridges mostly through Menifee County and then Powell County where the Red River Gorge is located. The ride was 50 miles and took me to where my friend Brian is building a house for his family and future outdoor adventure business. All was well and the day had been quite enjoyable when I met this old guy on a sporty bike that immediately adopted me as his riding accomplice. We dropped into the gorge over a mile and half stretch of twisty road losing about 750 feet of elevation. He then informed me of our exit strategy from the Gorge which was gaining the same elevation back over only ¾ of a mile. Apparently only sissies come to the gorge without pulling “Sky Bridge Hill”. Definitely the hardest hill I have ever climbed. The weight of the gear took its toll on my tired legs. I finished as Brian arrived to the top of the hill in his truck. Putting my panniers in the truck and riding the last few miles closed out the final distance. I had time to visit a swimming hole in the heat of the afternoon. Sitting in the current beneath this awesome rock arch felt like Mother Nature giving me a massage. We ended the day with pizza and beer at Brian’s house while hanging out with two awesome kids and their amazing mom April.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 2: Grayson, KY to Cave Run Lake State Park

Day 2 – Grayson, KY to Cave Run Lake State Park
Monday morning I was off by 8:00 AM. My legs felt good and my bike was
performing admirably. The route I picked took me a little South then due West through
Elliot County on back roads and finally to Rowan County where there is a state park at a lake with a campground. I made it to Elliotville, about halfway, by noon and ate pizza from a gas station. The old guys sitting around the dining area were excited to talk. I engaged in more than one conversation in which most of what I heard was nearly indecipherable. I relied on intonation and intuition to garner the general nature of what was being said, how I should respond and when I should ride away on my bike, which turned out to be when I was asked who I voted for in the last election. I turned left about a mile down the road and about an hour and a half later I was once again in Elliotville. The distance I had covered was grueling. My heart broke a little, I just kept pedaling until I got to a Dairy Queen in Morehead. I ate an inappropriate amount of food and slept under a tree on the college campus there. It wasn’t restful and when I woke up it was hot. I finished the last 15 miles under distress but still in time to catch a late evening soak in the lake after about a 70 mile day. The park ranger who sold me the campsite was very friendly.

Day 1

Day 1 – Rush, KY to Grayson, KY

It was Sunday, and 90 something degrees until late afternoon when I left from the farm. A little apprehensive and already quite sweaty, I traveled about 25 miles over a couple of ridges to visit family friends in Grayson. The route took me through Boyd, Lawrence and Carter counties. I set up my camping gear and stayed overnight next to their pool. My hosts Marty and Tersa’s enthusiasm for the concept of riding a bike across Kentucky helped to alleviate my concern for whether or not this was all a good idea. They also provided helpful guidance as to what could be expected on the first full day leg of my journey, approximately 50-60 miles heading West through Elliot and Rowan County. In one word: “Hills”….