Sunday, 22 May 2011

Day 18 - Booneville to Berea (guest blogger Hadley)

Imagine this: Rob, lying swaddled in his green mummy bag, bed-headed and bleary-eyed, awake at 5:45 this morning.  Usually he's the last one to turn up at breakfast; however, today Rob was slaving away as sous-chef to Bob, and had to be up extra early to boil water for coffee, lay out brekkie items, and do other arduous sous-chefy tasks.

Kelly was sluggish as a result of yesterday's food poisoning and I was sluggish for no reason (other than the fact that I'd just cycled 750+ miles from Yorktown) and Rob was not sluggish at all but still took a long time getting ready to go because of all his sous-chef-ish-ness.

So it was a slow start to the day, and the riding started off even slower than the slow start (?? Rob's 'hilarious' sentence, not mine). 

The terrain today was less mountainous than it has been the past few days, but we still had numerous hills (some of which were ridiculously steep, if short) to tackle.  After just an hour or so of riding, we were ALL feeling sluggish and were craving an M & M stop!  Alas, the convenience store that was listed on our maps was closed (although it did have a tantalizing M & M advertisement up in the window).  The first open store we happened upon was a DOLLAR GENERAL store, and we made ourselves quite at home there, by setting up our tents to dry on their lawn, using their washroom, and hanging out in front of the store eating things like potato chips and M & Ms for a good long time.  We saw several Kentuckians with impressively bouffant, hedgehog-like hairstyles enter and exit the DOLLAR GENERAL store.

Now!  On to the dramatic stories, as a reward for the readers who made it all the way through that verbose and less-than-dramatic first chunk of this blog post:

1. My front tube blew out in an explosive fashion, with a scarily loud BANG! ( which Rob at first thought was someone attacking us with a shotgun).  I felt shivery and freaked out for some time after, as I'd lost control of the bike and veered out towards traffic.  Rob & Kelly were amazingly helpful and calm about it and helped me fix up the bike so I could ride onwards with them.

2. As we were riding into Berea, the sky grew dark and a heavy wind began to blow... and suddenly an emergency siren began to go off throughout the town!  Kelly thought a tornado was coming, Rob thought it was the 4 minute warning of impending nuclear attack, but in actual fact the siren was just a warning for a heavy thunderstorm (which turned out to be, in Rob's opinion, a bit of a wussy, low-grade storm - not enough thunder, lightening and destruction).  We took shelter in the local Shell station, where we drank coffee, ate licorice, and attempted ( unsuccessfully) to play lateral thinking games.

After those two dramatic events, we rode to camp and spent the rest of the evening in the laundromat, composing this masterpiece of a blog post.

Miles Today 50
Total            839

Day 17 Hindman to Boonville

Two days into Kentucky and its not quite doing it for me yet. Virginia was wonderful but here its not quite as friendly and a bit intimidating. I dont feel quite as comfortable randomly chatting to people. Already we've been bawled out by a mountain woman claiming that we were parking our bikes on a patch of grass and weeds that she reckoned was her flowerbed. Also had a strange conversation with a woman in a cafe about the local mining industry and she quite naturally interspersed quotes from the bible into the conversation. Very strange. Dog chases are a nuisance although only 2 og any consequence today. Today was the toughesr cycling day I can recall with temperatures in the nineties and hill after hill after hill. And also my first puncture so not impressed with the marathon xr's. Poor Kelly was suffering from mild food poisoning so it was not an easy day for her but Ellen kindly looked after her at the back. We are all looking forward to the return of Greg who had to leave the tour for a short while but is rumoured to be returning in the next few days.

Miles today  64
Total            789

Day 16 Breaks Interstate park to Hindman

Today was a 'focus day'  as we had 68 miles and 4500 ft of ascent to deal with. With other Rt members of the stop and stare group otherwise engaged I made an early 7 15 start and cycled alone for most of the morning . Despite a misty start the sun came up and we had temperatures back in the high seventies.  We also had to run the gauntlet of 'canine alley' pretty much as soon as we crossed the state line into Kentucky. It wasnt too bad but at one point I was surrounded by a pack of about 8 dogs jumping up onto my rear panniers. I was reluctant to use the pepper spray and instead threw peanuts at them which surprisingly did the trick. Unfortunately we will have this every day for the next few hundred miles.
By lunchtime I hooked up with Kelly and Ellen and we cycled together for the rest of the day. By the time we arrived at Daves place' our overnight camping stop we were pretty knackered after a hard riding day but it was wonderful to be greeted by Dave handing out glasses of ice tea with fresh mint and lemon on arrival and blackberry brandy as a nightcap. Great overnight stop and my first night without the flysheet.

Miles today 69
Total             725