Yup, I knew I'd get weather like this at some point. Days of rain and thunderstorms. Inclement enough to not allow any article of clothing on my body to dry. I haven't put my dark sunglass lenses in my sunglasses in days. Soaked through and pushing up hills of Appalachia. Fun times. I had a productive, restful day off at Buckhorn Lake State Park and pedaled myself up the access hill out onto the road early yesterday morning to ride to Hindman. It was a shorter, easier day. Less hills, along a stream and less mileage. I was wet the entire ride due to a few downpours and the ride wasn't all that attractive. I can't believe all the garbage. Just like Wyoming's roads reminded me of a third world country, Kentucky's garbage alongside the road yesterday did the same. Most of the garbage was from drink and food containers and I didn't see a lot of garbage bags. So, I'm assuming it's just a cultural thing. It's just acceptable behavior to chuck things out of your window here. Even with the $500 fine threat (who gets caught littering anyway?) posted everywhere, I was disappointed by the amount of garbage. It's a system issue. People living in poverty or close to the poverty line need to pay for garbage service and they can't afford it. So where does it go? In the woods, along the road. Businesses don't have trash cans outside their doors here because people will dump their garbage in them. I wanted to jump in and swim in the river I was following yesterday a few times, but the garbage and old car tires in the water dissuaded me immediately. And, who wants to swim when you've been wet all day I ask myself. I got a flat tire on my trailer, first flat since western Kansas. Fixed it quickly and arrived in Hindman around 2:30 to sunshine for most of the afternoon and evening. I stayed at the Hindman Historic Cycling Hostel, run by David Smith. He greeted me with a sweet tea and pointed me in the direction of the tent. Cyclists have the option of putting up their own tent or staying in a large one on the property with three sections. I choose his tent, knowing it was going to rain all night and that way, my tent would stay dry. And less work on my part! David had snacks out and took my bag of laundry (lots of damp, smelly bike clothes... I'm sure he used to that!). We chatted a bit and waited for two others to show up. David prefers at least 24 hours notice since he prepares two amazing meals, dinner and breakfast for cyclists. Cost is $25 and it's a deal! Ellis and his son Stu showed up (it was cool because I've been following Stu's trip on Twitter and he caught up to me! Check out his blog at www.coledude.com) a couple hours later and we enjoyed nice dinner, as I said prepared by David with lots of conversation about the places we've seen and visited from Oregon to Hindman KY. David made chicken & dumplings, beans, cole slaw, heirloom tomato slice, corn, watermelon and banana split for dessert!
Stu, Ellis and I shared the large tent and man the rain came down! Luckily the tent stayed perfectly dry. We had breakfast at 7:30, a great spread of lots of fruit, cereal options, coffee cake and strawberry shortcake. I left David's about 8:45am and began my long 70 mile day. The first 22 miles were mellow and then hills. Some intense hills yesterday. In fact, yesterday I climbed the most ascended feet in one day on this trip, 5900 feet. The hills were steep and windy over the 70 mile day, but being drenched all day didn't help. I mean, still loved riding, but hard day. Challenging. And, the weirdest thing happened... While climbing a hill I saw a car stopped up a ways and when I passed it, I didn't see anybody. But, when I looked into the trees a little there was a man. Taking a poop. Yup, right there. Awesome. Something I really didn't want to see. Ever. Especially while climbing a 12% grade hill! When you're climbing that slowly due to the grade, the bugs surround you which isn't fun. The mosquitoes bite and the others drown in your sweat and you end the day covered in bugs. And I wonder why I've only had one marriage proposal on this trip... I actually got a phone call halfway up the hill (I've had no cell service consistently for days and then my phone was ringing!) and I took it for the break. In fact, I walked up part of the hill and chatted to a friend. For the first time, walked. Only a little bit, but it was steep and a nice break on the muscles.
See day stats here : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/356697910
In almost every community, I've passed Family Resource & Youth Service Center signs near schools. Their full acronym, FRYSC's (pronounced 'frisky' by my colleagues here in KY) are in 90% of schools here in KY and a great partner to school health work. Their primary goal is remove barriers to learning and the school-based centers are designed to provide resources and support families. I mention these because this great resource is another opportunity to educate, support and bring together the school and community together. Especially in areas that are high poverty and rural. I've heard my KY colleagues mention the work and partnership with FRYSC's and it was cool to pass so many of them and understand a little of what they are and do. I cycle and observe everything through the lens of what I do and who I am. And every person doing this has their lens(es) as they ride. A naturalist might identify plants or birds as they ride, a photographer might look to capture the ambience through a photo. We ride the same roads and experience similar things, however, who we are and what we are passionate about frames our ride.
I've made it to Virginia! The final state on the Adventure Cycling Association's Trans-Am Route. I will not be riding through to Yorktown unfortunately to complete the entire Trans-Am, but that's because my trip doesn't end here, as most Trans-Amer's do. I will pick up the Atlantic Coast Route and head north once I get to the Richmond Va area.
So, goodbye Kentucky! I won't miss the whistles/sexual harassment comments out of trucks or being chased by dogs (prevalent the past few days... although I hear VA has their share of unleashed dogs as well). I will miss the huge butterflies (hope they continue), people sitting on porches and waving at me, barn quilts and most importantly my good friends and colleagues here who hosted me, spent time with me, encouraged me, took me to dinner, loved and supported me. Hoping I'm back soon!
Moss is to Oregon as Kudzu is to Kentucky (see photo). It's taking over!!