Archive for June, 2010

Day 22: Soaking To Sebree

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

77.96 miles (Total: 1040.02) Avg Speed: 12.2mph Max Speed: 37.5mph

The morning started with eggs and bacon on the stove, superb. Once we got rolling it was obvious the huge black clouds were about to dump their load on us. Within about 4 miles of riding thunder crashed down and lightning struck the floor by the side of the road. We took shelter under a small pavillion at a tourist information office. The rain came hard in bursts then calmed, there was no hurry but we decided to get back on the road an try again.

The thunder still rumbled around in the distance but then up ahead in the road we saw a black cloud spiralling sideways extremely low over the road, none of us had ever seen anything like it. After pulling into a gas station the storm returned just as powerful before finally retreating. Rain continued in bursts during the first half of the ride so we eventually decided to take an early lunch and stopped at a cafe. Entering a place that has the AC on full in wet clothes is not fun, but we soon dried out. The waitress told me how she was obsessed with English bands like Zepplin and the Rolling Stones.

I would soon be reaching 1000 miles for the trip so kept a close eye on my cyclometer as the digits crept up. I have two different settings, one which I put to zero at the start of each ride to get the daily mileage and a second which clocks up all the miles. So as it goes 999.98, 999.98, 999.99 I soon realised there wasn’t even space to go to 6 digits with the decimal places so wondered if it would reset, Cooper said it might. Sure enough as I rolled over the threshold my overall distance went back to 0.00. No big deal, I will now just have to calculate and add on my daily mileage after the rides. It felt great knowing how far I had come, almost 25% of the trip complete!

Insert coin to continue

The ACA group caught up with us as we approached the town of Utica where they were staying at the Volunteer Fire Department. We still had another 25 miles to go for our destination of Sebree, the First Baptist Church there is a well known TransAm paradise. The immense heat and humidity is interspersed with flashes of refreshing rainfall, the weather is completely unpredictable at the minute. We all felt tired and Terry took a rest in some shade under a tree and told us he would catch up, Joe says “nothing to it but to do it!”.

We trudged through the last few miles towards Sebree and finally found our way to the church. Violet greeted us round the back, she and her husband were just about to head out for date night but quickly showed us around the building. The church is huge with so many different levels and rooms, we are given access to the kitchen and told to help ourselves to food then showed the laundry room and showers. We had to place a pin on the map of where we were from, England only had 2 previous pins from down south. Downstairs had a pool table, sofas and a huge TV. Did I mention this place was free? I used the wifi briefly before crashing out on the comfiest sofa I could find.

Day 21: Rough River

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

54.08 miles (Total: 962.04) Average Speed: 11.6mph Max Speed: 39mph

We sharply left the Cruise Inn this morning and soon got back onto country roads through wheat and cornfields. I slowed as I spotted a big dog up ahead in the middle of the road but we soon realised he was harmless and even came over for a good stroke before rolling onto his back for a belly rub, this was one of the friendlier mutts on the trip.

Flat terrain at last!

We wanted to stop in the small town of Sonora for food but as we passed through saw nowhere to eat. We asked a guy further up main street and he directed us back to and unsigned building in the middle of town. On the way back another person recommended it to us, by this time it was getting quite the reputation. The food and service was great, they even had a huge TransAm guestbook to sign, to think we had cycled right past at first. Nothing outside suggests its a diner. I guess these kind of places you miss out on with a sat nav and a car.

The humidity soon kicked in which can be suffocating and make even the simplest of riding a challenge, its becoming increasingly important to keep the electrolytes topped up as the heat of summer starts to take hold. We stopped at a convenience store that had tables an a guy with a baseball cap which read “Resurrection Bound” made us some sandwiches to order then gave us a free popsicle and had us sign the cyclist guestbook. Its cool to see who is just ahead of you on the trail but the most exciting thing is knowing that there are people right behind you who you don’t know about.

Me in paparazzi mode

There were several options for camping tonight as we headed towards the Rough River Dam State Park. We pulled into one and asked for a spot, they guy agreed to let us have 4 tents on one site but we were not aloud to pitch on the grass, gravel it is. Before we setup he rolled up on a motorbike and said he had a better spot. Everyone else had big RV’s and he took us to a pretty small spot for an RV right on the lake and said we could camp there for FREE! I guess he couldn’t sell that one. We all had one thing on our minds, jumping in the lake. So in we went and it was the perfect temperature, gently warmed all day by the hot sun.

Cooper and Terry took care of dinner on their small stoves for the gang as me an Joe cycled unloaded back to the store to pick out some ice cream for dessert, the skies were clear so no rain but the air remained sticky so I slept with my tent door open.

Day 20: Cruise Inn

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

66.06 miles (Total: 907.96) Average Speed: 11.2mph Max Speed: 33mph

We woke inside the winery to an amazing breakfast from Donny. He had gotten up around 5am to make us everything from scratch. Once we were packed up an ready to leave we each left him $10 for the hospitality and said our goodbyes. We knew today was simply a case of getting the miles done to edge our way across the map. The destination was simply a motel at an intersection, not exciting but sometimes these kind of days are required, similar to the ride to Dalesville.

Map checking

The scenery since leaving the mountains has steadily turned to cornfields. The ACA group caught up with us for a while but they weren’t going as far as us so we pressed on through a fairly cool and cloudy day to make it to the motel which is right next to Abraham Lincolns birthplace. The miles seemed easy and in a few days we should be into Illinois.

Longhorn

The Cruise Inn motel was probably the shadiest looking place i’ve seen, a guy in ripped jeans and boots in and old rusted pickup got out to show us the rooms. We then had to go next door to the store to book the room. Can’t complain at only $11 each but it smelt pretty foisty. Terry stayed in the motel whilst me, Joe and Cooper walked to an italian restaurent down the road for food, I almost managed to get a chicken parmo but it then turned out they had stopped doing them. We walked back to the motel expecting to get rained on as flashes of lightening went off in the distance but we stayed dry then headed to bed.

Redneck who owned the motel filling up his truck before throwing a lit cigarette on the floor.

Joe aka Captain America aka Team USA or my favourite, Josephine. Also note the leftover wine bottle he rolled with from the previous night.

Day 19: Kentucky Wine

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

67.67 miles (Total: 841.86) Average Speed: 11.4mph Max Speed: 39mph

I start the morning on the phone to my bank, they had blocked my attempt to top up my travel card online. The online protection at Halifax has gone overboard recently, every transaction I’ve been making has been blocked or verified. After straightening things out I finally get my stuff together concious of the fact I seem to always be the last one packing up at the minute.

It’s a glorious morning, not only is the scenery stunning but we soon realise the roads are flat and at worst gently rolling. The barns on each farm have strange decorative symbols and we even pass a bunch of Alpacas, Kentucky continues to surprise. The ride comes to a halt when we approach a barrier with road closed signs. I remember a similar situation on one of the first days and insist we will be able to walk our bikes through. Once past we soon find half the road caved in with stationary machinery where workers must have been but as expected we could walk through no problem.

Barns with strange symbols

Flying V Formation

We stop for refueling at small store who made us some great fresh sandwiches before pushing on towards Harodsburg, at this point we still weren’t certain of where to stay. Once we reached Harrodsburg we had managed 46 miles. Feeling good to push on we decided to go a further 25 miles for a campsite so with our heads down pushed on. The single lane roads were busy and I cursed each pickup driver that flew past at 120mph, exhaust spewing fumes in my face as I struggle through tiredness. The drivers in Kentucky have not been as nice as Virginia. The gangs spirits are tested further by 2 huge dogs that chase after Joe causing him to nearly swerve off the road, a young guy eventually gets them back under control and I give him some strong verbal advice on how to keep his pets safe not only from cars but from the pepper spray that us cyclist carry.

Guess this is where the old signs go

Not again.

Joe & Cooper

As tiredness kicks in we stop every couple miles and I tell Terry how much further we have to go. The fact were in yet another dry county annoys everyone but then out of the blue we spot a winery sign and its right on route. As we turn the corner a guy drives up to ask where were all from, I then ask him if the winery is up ahead, he replies “Sure, I’ll just turn round and go open up for you”. Seconds later were invited in and sipping this guys sample wines! We also learn hes a local police constable and he explains this is one of the only premises in the county permittted to sell alcohol. He then insists we can pitch our tents next to the winery before offering us all to take a shower in his house across the road. We stand with huge grins in disbelief at how the evening just got turned upside down so quickly. Donny the host then tells us he is leaving the winery door open so we can use the rest room during the night and that should the forcast storm get bad we can all go inside. Cooper and Terry cook up the pasta meal we had bought stuff for earlier and we sip the bottles of Elderberry and Blackberry wine we purchased. Donny soon returns with a crate of beer he had drove to the next county to buy and joins us for a brew.

The night topped any yet but as we crawl into our tents lightening in the distance illuminates the sky. Thunder calls and threatens for a few hours and eventually the storm kicks in. I immediately grab my things and out towards the winery, Terry is already doing the same and we call Cooper and Joe. We sleep on the floor with our roll mats and sleeping bags as the storm booms outside as I laid there wondering how these miraculous things keep happening on the trip and soon come to the conclusion that if I started all over again it would be no different. Cycle touring is bitter sweet.

This ones for my sister.

Day 18: Escape From Appalachia

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

50.30 miles (Total: 774.14) Average Speed: 11.3mph Max Speed: 38mph

Everyone seems to rise from their tents around 7am and Terry instantly gets the tea going. After breakfast we get packed up and I am the last one to use the portaloo before we head off, needless to say I get an eyefull of everyone elses efforts that morning. Nice.

The roll out of Booneville is gradual, this was going to be the last real day in the Appalachian mountains before it flattens out. People have also marked our destination Berea as the turning point for Kentucky as a state. Apparently its night and day compared to the feral dog, coal truck, trash filled eastern Kentucky. The scenery improves as we strain our way over the last few climbs of this part of the trip and arrive in Mckee for a lunch stop.

We pass by the fast food chains in search of Opals, a home cooking place recommened by a women we asked. Everyone except Cooper goes for the Philly Hoagie (a philly cheesesteak basically). We are still in a dry county and after asking around town soon realise we would be going another night without a celebratory drink. Its hard to get my head around cycling for 3 days now through places that don’t have any alcohol, not a single bar, not a can or bottle to be seen in any store, zilch, zero, nada.

Cooper & Terry failed to push the building over.

On the way to Berea Joe gets a flat, the shoulders on the roads have been terrible and filled with rubble and junk. He pumps it up for to last him through to Berea. We arrive an negotiate our way through town to find the motels towards the intersection. I push for the Super 8 because of its pool and breakfast, a price of $55 split between 4 guys is not a bad deal. For supper we head over the road to a nice Mexican restaurant, I get the Burrito Mariachi and devour it along with the rice and refried beans in seconds. Its a great night and looking around the table its amazing to see how each of us has came together and bonded so quickly into a tight cycling family. We know Cooper will be leaving us at the end of Kentucky as he takes a break for a wedding before continuing the trip and he admitted his dissapointment of the impending departure. Like me starting the trip solo he expected to meet and ride with people along the trail but didn’t anticipate forming such strong friendships.

Rumble strips and debris are a way of life on the shoulders in Kentucky

Day 17: The Booneville Four

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

65.14 miles (Total: 722.30) Average Speed: 10.6mph Max Speed: 42mph

The gang wakes to another amazing breakfast from David, then I set about fixing my tube again. I take of the tyre and checked yet again for any sharp objects that may have caused the previous puncture and manage to finally find the smallest piece of wire metal that isn’t protruding but still lodged, it has caused all the problems. So this time with the tube I trim the patch small enough to fit inbetween the ridges and apply it. After filling it with air it holds perfect so I set about fixing my other tube from yesterday, same success. I put the tube in fill it then load all my bags, several minutes later its still rock solid. Me, Cooper and Terry hit the road while Joe continues his leisurley morning still recovering from his huge day yesterday and says he will catch us down the trail.

After the first 20 miles we spot a Wal Mart so pull in to see if they have suitable inner tubes. They stock some cheap universal one that is the right size so I buy it as back up until we get to another bike shop which could be another week away. Cooper also buys a new camera as he broke his before pursuading us to go thirds on a big box of Little Debbies Nutty Bars. He says they are amazing but me and Terry weren’t very impressed, imagine a chocolate bar filled with salt, BORK. Just as we are about to head off Joe pulls up as he needs brake pads, Wal Mart has everything. We continue on as the rain starts to pour on a busy road with a shoulder filled with rocks and shrapnel. Terry’s rear wheel goes flat, so we pull over in the pouring rain to fix it finding a small piece of glass that had pierced the wall.

We push on through small towns like Chavies and Emmalena before reaching a gas station which is our only real option for lunch. Services are still pretty limited as is our destination for the night, Booneville. In Kentucky you pretty much don’t have a choice in where to stay you just have to push out the miles and make it. I get a few sliders and a chilli hot dog whilst cooper gets a large hash brown with ‘everything on it’, it looks like a plate of sick.

Joe

The calories would soon be burnt in the afternoon as we tackled 5 reasonable climbs, each feeling tougher than the last. Joe, although travelling light, only has two cranks so doesn’t have the climbing gear options we do so he just powers it out the best he can. We stop a few times for small breaks and wait for Terry to catch up because his stuff weighs a ton. I like that nobody is trying to be a hero and honest enough to take the breaks because it was really tough. I hit a new max speed on one of the downhills without even feeling it and inform the gang of the new record to be beaten, 42 mph.

Best sign

We eventually arrive in Boonville at the church that allows cyclist to camp. It has a small pavillion, toilet, sink and cold shower, perfect! Me an Joe decide to head into town for supper but everywhere is closed so it ends up being a hashed up meal from the store. We all sit under the pavillion chatting about general stuff while I patch Terry’s tube from earlier. I am now the official go to tube expert guy. Terry makes me an amazing cup of tea then scolds himself with the water. Nice to be back on the road, tomorrow its Berea and I’m pushing to split a motel with the group as its been a while.

Day 16: Hindman Rest

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Today was going to be a rest day as we all had stuff to fix on our bikes and Cooper hadn’t even had a day off yet! I make my way down to the patio to find Terry already sat consuming breakfast, David instantly presents me with a cup of Tea, cereal, cake, strawberries & cream, apples, bananas, grapes and just about everything else you could imagine. Cooper eventually joins us to the same astonishment and we sit for hours stuffing ourselves. It was a great idea to take a rest day in Hindman.

We all sit and work on our bikes in the blistering heat during the day. I struggle a few times to fix my tube from yesterday as the hole is right on a ridge line in the tube, then I notice the rear tyre on the bike has gone flat. This leaves me out of spare working tubes! I take it out check the tyre again for something sharp and can’t find anything. Maybe this tube has a faulty valve? Deal with it later.

After a stroll around sleepy Hindman we return to the house for a beer. David makes us all an amazing potatoe with grated cheese, sour cream and bacon bits followed by a huge banana and ice cream sundae. We sip away the night until the phone rings, another cyclist is coming for the night. Joe, 22 from Ohio turns up looking exhausted from a really long ride. I thought I packed light but he has hardly any baggage. We soon learn he didnt even start the trip with a sleeping bag. We are all heading for Booneville tomorrow so the gang has grown to 4.

One of the many fine treats David gave us.

Day 15: Keeeeentucky!

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

74.74 miles (Total: 657.15.35) Average Speed: 11mph Max Speed: 39mph

The rain continues to drop on top of my tent so I glance out the doorway to see its actually stopped and the wind is just blowing some. I got up to find just about everything stained and dirty, my bike especially. It takes forever for us to clean up even though we know the only option for tonight is to cycle 75 miles to Hindman. We leave Breaks and glide downhill towards the border. I glanced back to see the welcome to Virginia sign then just around the corner we had arrive in Kentucky, it felt like a real milestone.

Bye Bye Virginia

State No.2

I had heard and read some crazy stories about Kentucky and not a few metres over the state line we saw our first feral dog just trotting along the roadside.  Alongside this we noticed the roadside suddenly becoming increasingly trash filled. We stop in Elkhorn city to have breakfast, I manage to get wifi so call home. Keen to get back on the road concious of the big day ahead we soon hit the road again to find we must now share it with more coal trucks. This is coal truck central, even the homes and shops have banners and stickers that read “We love our coal miners” I guess the whole place depends on it.

Even the Kentucky turtles look evil

There are 5 challenging climbs today to slow down the mileage and we soon began ascending. Dogs would run freely and occasionally charge, chickens and hens clucked and cuckooed there way around pens while shady figures sat in porchways. The area was extremely poor with the trailer homes falling apart, a very different place to Virginia.

Most services had been shutdown in Kentucky

We struggle up and over each climb then stop at a Dairy bar for food. The locals have thick accents but have all been friendly enough so far. We soon press on down a busy road with a large shoulder, lumps of coal that had fallen from trucks covered the side. The scenery is strange, they strip mine entire mountains for the coal leaving devastating gaps in the landscape.

Its getting into late afternoon and we still have around 30 miles to cover, then a feel my back wheel throbbing up and down. We pull over to find I have my first flat, now I feel like a genuine touring cyclist. We fish out the tube check the tyre, I can’t find the hole or what caused it. I fish out a fresh tube I can patch the other one later. After I start pumping the new tube I check the tyre isn’t pinching it anywhere then continue to pump. After some more pumps I check how the pressure is building in the tyre and feel a bubble underneath. The tube HAD become pinched and looked like a small bubble coming out the side of the tyre so I take the pump of straight away but it explodes, great. I fish out my second spare tube and we both double check everything a million times after each pump, it seems seated right and eventually pumps up nicely.

We are now entering dry counties, NO ALCOHOL!

Hmm

Easy does it

Once were back on the road the clouds turn black and light fades we race the last 25 miles to Hindman sprinting up and over the hills. We had two choices, find the motel just off route or stay at the Historical Society. The latter would have been our first choice but you had to camp and our tents were soaking from last night, plus the ACA group said they were heading there so we didn’t know if there was room and got no response from calling the place. We passed through Hindman and found another huge climb towards the motel. Both tired and angry we stayed civil and trudged up. We get to the intersection to find no sign of the motel so ask in the station for directions. They tell us its 2 miles up another hill but it was a nasty motel for drug addicts. We try the Historical Society once more and David answers, he tells us we would have to camp but we would get a free beer, laundry done for us, supper & breakfast for $25. Deal.

We finally arrive exhausted to find Terry is there also, he helps us with the bags then fetches us a beer. David greats you at the entrance with a large glass of ice tea. We then settle down for beer, pizza and potatoes as the stresses of the day soon fade away. Cooper asks Terry what he makes of Kentucky, he replies in his best oz accent “Its bloody primitive!”. David then brings out jars of moonshine and offers us a shot, we all oblige, its actually pretty good.

Remember these Bonda?

Moonshine

David "The Saviour"

Day 14: Gimme a Breaks

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

46.18 miles (Total: 582.35) Average Speed: 10.3mph Max Speed: 38mph

We left Rosedale hungry in search of a place to eat. We stopped at the first town to find breakfast but had to settle for some old egg and bacon biscuits (biscuits are like scone things here and I’ve never really taken to them).

The morning is foggy and with with people going to work and school buses flying past it makes tackling Big A mountain even more of a challenge. Our destination for the night was Breaks Interstate Park and Cooper has a small stove so we had decided to cook supper, tacos were on the menu.

Really? I spell it Happiness.

After picking up some food for later we then reached Haysi and stopped at a pizza buffet before hitting the Haysi library. I spent a few minutes checking emails but couldn’t update my blog as they were typed up on my netbook and Haysi had no wifi. By this point the roads had started to become heavy with coal trucks. We knew this would be a problem in Kentucky as the industry is huge in the area. They are huge monoliths with dark souless windscreens.

What would the people at Rural Retreat have to say about this blatant rip off!

Everything One Dollar...Or More!

We sweat our way through yet more short climbs before reaching Breaks. The woman on the entrance waves us through without charging and points us in the directions of the campground. We stop in at the camp office to register a spot and the guys are super friendly with deep country accent and talk us through the best sites then even give us a golf cart to drive around and check them out before picking one. Once camp is set up we get a fire going and cook up the grub, the taco shells in the kit we bought were horrific so we went to the camp store to pick up something else.

Just as the evening was coming to a calm end thunder rolls in, soon followed by the rain, then lightening. Its only about 8pm but we scramble into our tents as the storm raged on and on. I dropped in and out of sleeping as each flash of lightening would crash close by and I battle to make sure my tent wasn’t letting the water pool on top. This is going to be an interesting night!

Oh dear

Day 13: Clinch Mountain

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

32.41 miles (Total: 536.17) Average Speed: 11.2mph Max Speed: 37.2mph

Cooper had to be up for an appointment he had made to get his painful ankle checked out at the doctors, so I strolled round Damascus looking for breakfast and wifi. I didn’t get the wifi but did get some nice pancakes with maple syrup. We eventually got our stuff together and left Damascus not realising we had already missed the route turn coming into the town so were heading the wrong way from the off. We soon realised and spotted a road that would connect us back. Having bought the pepper spray I was on lookout for any dog that fancied charging me today.

Today would involve one huge climb of around 2000ft up clinch mountain, a sheer wall of vertical road to the heavens. I was moaning early in the ride about my sore knees and dreading the climb, then we came across Allen. He has Spinocerebellar Ataxia and was riding a hand bike from St Louis, we talked about what was ahead and asked him questions about his bike. After the meeting we both felt inspired to defeat this mountain so ploughed on up the steepest grades of the trip so far. The sweat was pouring of my face as flies hover around but you can only continue crawling up.

Allen

After finally making it to the top we stopped to celebrate, there was a county line where the road bends and goes downhill and it was just as fun as the Damascus downhill. After reaching the church in Rosedale where we were going to camp we find the Adventure cycling group setup too. They invite me and Cooper to eat with them and in return we washed some dishes. They also sold beer for $1 a can which has become a must after a hard day in the saddle. All is good.

What's this?

My name is Ryan Anderson, in Summer 2010 I rode my bike across America. Starting on the east coast in Yorktown, VA and finishing in Florence, OR. Read more

break

Previous Entries

Previous Months

break
flickr