Sorry Illinois. Helloooooooo Kentucky

I left Murphysboro Illinois this morning at 6:30 am and biked the ten miles to Carbondale. I ate breakfast at Denny's and loaded my favorite photos from my trip so far in my gallery. I decided in Carbondale to be rebellious today and go off route. For a few reasons. My rebellious route cut about 20 miles off my goal destination, which would have been about 100 miles today. It wasn't necessarily as pretty I suspect, however, it was flat for 60 of the 84 miles I biked. And, there was a wide shoulder. I took Route 13 east with the intention of taking Route 1 down to Cave-in-Rock IL. From there I WOULD have taken the ferry over to KY in the morning. I had a tailwind most of the day and flew through the 60 miles at an average of 16mph! Finally! And, the weather has been perfect, in the mid-70's, low 80's. No humidity. When I got to the Route 1 intersection, I saw a sign for the Ohio River, 9 miles ahead.

At this point, I need to interrupt this blogpost for an important sidetrack. I have in the past few years done a lot of work with the Coordinated School Health crew at the Kentucky Department of Education and Department of Health. I love my colleagues here (Vicki, Jamie, Steph and Todd) and have taken over a dozen trips to KY over the past couple of years, including to present at their Coordinated School Health Symposium in 2012, help the team with grant writing, deliver two Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) training events and even complete the Bourbon Trail and other sightseeing (last two not on state or federal time, promise... over many weekends with close friend/colleague Jamie Sparks!). I've also worked with Gary English (we go way back... like when I was 19 at Ithaca College!) at Western Kentucky University to help the professors in the public health department map and align their curricula. Also, the organization I'm trying to raise $25,000 for, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, has 3, soon to be 4 employees in Kentucky and they are doing great work (Jacy, Patty and Melissa)! There's also some other folks I know through the field of school health- Barb, Audra and Stacie. Because I have a good dozen or so colleagues here that mean the world to me (and who are doing amazing school health work, by the way), Kentucky was another milestone on this trip. A very important place for me to get to. Even though most of them live 200 miles from where I am right now in Western KY (except for Gary, in Bowling Green at WKU!), crossing the border meant a lot to me.

 Crossing the Ohio River (Illinois/Kentucky border)

Crossing the Ohio River (Illinois/Kentucky border)

 Ohio River

Ohio River

Ok, now we can return to the scheduled blogpost. Each day, my ride has been about the journey, not the destination. I meet plenty of other cyclists that get up at 5am to get to their destination by 1, as fast as they can. That's fine with me, but it's not my trip. I stop and talk to many people a day in towns I bike through, in restaurants I nourish my body in, at fruit stands and ice cream venues I eat in. But I have to admit, today, my bike all of a sudden had a mind of its own, saw Kentucky was 9 miles away straight ahead versus staying on the ACA Trans-Am and it wouldn't turn. The bike wanted IN to Kentucky. It was saying, "Take me to one of my favorite states!!" So, I had to go straight, hoping the bridge over the Ohio wasn't too dangerous for cyclists (it was fine, hardly any traffic). It was the most dramatic state crossing for me so far (see photos below)! Emotional even! The first home I saw had 4 horses. Predictable. And, within 4 miles of crossing into KY, a man and woman pulled over to make sure I was ok (just finished watering the regional flora) and after chatting a bit, they offered me a place at their farm. They are located another ten miles passed my new destination for the night, and 84 miles was enough for me today! Drivers were courteous and the rolling hills were mellow. The scenery was gorgeous- corn and soybean fields, silos, streams and plenty of green rolling hills! My stomach is happily content with food and a Dairy Queen peanut buster parfait right now. Tomorrow I'm going to stay off route because I have a warmshowers.org host in Owensboro. I'm looking forward to meeting more Kentuckians as I meander my way into Central Kentucky. I'm so proud of myself for making it to Kentucky. Even though UCONN is going to kick UK and Louisville's butts this basketball season. ;)

To see the dramatic Kentucky state border crossing, click on the photo below to scroll through all 6 photos. They are ridiculous and quite hilarious. Yes, Alison- another set the camera and run to pose for the photo!