I'm typing this blog in the White Mills Kentucky Volunteer fire department - the background photo above features Bob, Bill, Carol, Sarah - fellow Trans-Am cyclists, and Chuck, the chief of the local department. They have a standing policy - you call when you get here and within 20 minutes someone shows up to open the door giving us access to sleeping on the floor, a hot shower and a kitchen. Very sweet people. I ride solo, the guys ride together, as do the women, and when were all on the same nightly destination path, we get together and eat, talk about the various hills, attack dogs (less and less) the sites and eat a lot more. They took a full rest day yesterday and I took mine five days ago, so I'll probably lose them in a day or two - and then reconnect somewhere down the line. Five different stories - five folks missing their spouses and families, and five people feeling incredibly grateful to test themselves and experience the adventure every day brings.
Yesterday, I rode for six hours in a driving rain (remnants of the Texas storms) to Bardstown, KY. It's known as the Bourbon capital of the world and one of the most historically intact southern towns. It was beautiful. On the way, I rode into the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace State Park to find nobody there. The storm kept people away, and tourist season hasn't kicked in yet. I huddled under an awning swallowing down a quick turkey sandwich, right next the small cabin Lincoln was raised in. When I pedaled away down that road, I could practically feel Abe walking down the same path heading for the nearby fishing hole. Later in the evening, when I reached Bardstown, I went to the Talbot Tavern, where Lincoln and Daniel Boone stayed and drank. One of the rooms upstairs has a wall full of bullet holes that Jesse James shot up after going on a drunk tear one night. I sipped a bourbon with a beer back, feeling the history and thanking my lucky stars to be out of Kentucky's dry counties.
Depending on my legs and my need to take a rest day, I'm about a 2-1/2 day ride from the Ohio River Ferry that will transport me into Illinois. Tomorrow, at about mile marker 30, I'll cross from Eastern to Central time, and by day after tomorrow, I'll cross the 1000 mile mark - about 1/4 of the way home.
Footnote: As I type, the others are talking about the fortitude and sticktoittiveness it takes to do this, and why they HAVE to make it all the way. Carol, who just started riding a bike for this trip, has fallen a few times, Bill, had a dog rip his pannier off the bike, all of us have been fighting off dogs, weather, uncertainty of what's next or which turn to take when the signs are gone, and all of us are saying, "Just bring it on." Yes, it's an adventure and exciting, but to put your body through 6-9 hours of endurance riding day in and day out, not only wears you out, it makes you stronger. And that's a feeling that's hard to describe with words and we're fortunate to experience.
Thanks for following along!
1. The Old Taylor Tavern - where Abe, Dan Boone, Jesse James and I drank...
2. The cabin Abe Lincoln was born in and spent his early years.
3. What I see when I stop to Pee (sorry, couldn't resist)
4. Some nice, level road... for a minute or two.