mandag 28. juli 2014

Day 47: Getting There Slowly

59.2 km

I had a hard time leaving the comfortable confines of the motel room this morning. Until now I had alway had a bit of a positive pressure hanging over me with the deadline being August 11th, but now I knew it would be easy to make it unless I got really unlucky. Me and my girlfriend have also decided that I can neither arrive before 11th as we had both agreed that she should be there waiting at the finish line. Even though it is satisfying to know I have made sufficient progress according to the standard set prior to the trip, it could actually be an effort not to make too much progress as I have gotten so used to the routine of riding every day that the daily mileage is fairly easy to do now. 

The riding out of Danville was easy with a slight tailwind. I was still off route bound for Berea, KY where the current map section ends. Once I got to Berea - a nice college town, I got to an AT&T store to put a little more data on my plan before sitting down at a mexican restaurant for lunch. I sat there for quite some time, trying to figure out wether to press on or stay in town. This was a larger town with almost 15,000 inhabitants which meant it had everything you could need while up ahead services were kind of spread out. Because of the poorly distributed lodging facilities on route, I would sooner or later have to take a short day and unlike the some towns down the road, this one offered camping, so I headed to a nice campground with showers, wi-fi and a pool for 7 bucks. I spent the evening in the shade by the pool getting up to date on the writing.

Day 46: Biking Bad Weather

137.8 km

There had been a severe thunderstorm rolling in over Kentucky last night and the frequent flashes through the bedroom curtains bore witness of lightning strikes. After a quick breakfast and saying goodbye to Charlie, Fabrice and I headed down the quiet Kentucky country roads. We had discussed the possibility of shaving off a few kilometers from the original route by taking a bigger, straighter road through the countryside and figured we didn't miss much. 

On the way to New Haven, we stopped by a farm where Abraham Lincoln had spent a few years of his childhood and was where he had his first boyhood recollections. His parents later made the decision of moving to Indiana partly because of the presence of slavery in Kentucky at the time. After a quick stop in New Haven, the clouds really started dumping their payload on us with extremely frequent lightning strikes a little too close for comfort, followed by loud cracks of thunder. Unlike in the Rockies, it wasn't bad at all to bike in this weather, in spite of its forceful nature. The mountain rain was fairly colder than this tempered fluid that poured down over our heads, and didn't necessarily require rain gear, something Fabrice surely took advantage of. I was later to learn that there had been issued several tornado warnings in neighboring areas to the east. 

Upon reaching Bardstown - a very nice small town - Fabrice decided to call it a day while I decided to cover some more ground. Fabrice was headed to New York and will be passing through Washington, D.C. as well. The trip can be followed on 

After tanking up at a walmart, I headed off in solitude on a hilly US Highway. The rain was on and off the entire rest of the day as I passed through Springfield before ending up in Danville. The combination of intense humidity and the heat made it feel like cycling in a sauna and the sweat left my body as juice squeezed from an orange.I entered the lobby of a motel with my clothes completely soaked, ready for a shower and in dire need of a washing machine. 

Later on in the evening I went out to a supermarket to pick up more food and was lucky enough to catch a staggering view of the storm that had been over my head throughout the day. I watched the massive piece of cloud with very frequent flashes of lightning, generated within the interior of this huge body. 

søndag 27. juli 2014

Day 45: Half Day to Sonora

66.7 km

I had set my clock one hour ahead before falling asleep last night to prepare myself for eastern time. I took my time this morning to t breakfast at the quiet campground and looking over the remaining part of the trip. According to calculations I was way ahead of schedule and only had to average about 75 km per day which means I can really take my time.

I knew as soon as I had done a few kilometers that this wasn't going to be a long day due to the exhaustion I was experiencing. After crossing into the eastern time zone and going over some rough hills in the increasing temperatures, I got into what appeared to be Amish country. I passed to older dudes in a horse powered carriage and when I stopped by a supermarket in Sonora I saw a horse and carriage parking.

I decided to find a place to stay in town and the only thing available was a bed & breakfast. Going up and down the street, trying to find the place, a woman sitting on the porch across the street waved and pointed towards a big brick house, obviously knowing what I was there for. I knocked on the door and got showed in by the host - Charlie who owned two more hoses across the street from which I could choose where I would like to stay. There was only one other guest at the B&B but there was s lot of stuff going on due to the wedding that was going to be held there this afternoon. The other gut was a French cyclist called Fabrice who had biked from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Grand Canyon bound for New York. We spent the evening together watching a movie and discussing the possibity of taking shortcuts from the mapped route. Charlie regularly checked in on us through the evening making sure we had everything including giving us a beer on the house and was able to sneak put some leftovers from the ongoing party. 

Day 44: Rough River

127.8 km

Having said goodbye to Elliot the night before as he knew he would probably kick back half a day at the church, I headed in to town for breakfast. I woke up a little later due to the late night last night but by 10:00 I was on the road. The temperatures were fairly high as I got going and the riding was quiet and pleasant going trough fields of corn and tobacco. I took several stops along the way including a small town called Utica where I was welcomed by a local to their "little piece of paradise". There really wasn't much to report from this day since it was pretty quiet and peaceful.

By the time I got to Rough River Dam State Park, the sun was slowly setting below the horizon so I stopped a local Corps of Engineers campground I had planned on reaching today. The tenant told me they had nothing at all but he was kind enough to call another campground 10 minutes further down the road and confirmed that they had room for another weary traveler. I got a nice secluded spot and got myself a nice shower and a meal before falling asleep in the tent. 

Day 43: Kentucky!

141.6 km

The day started with breakfast in the form of power bars at the same gas station I had dinner at last night. I had gotten word from Anthony to look out for glass that had shredded his tire on the way in to Elizabethtown so after making my way over hills and getting chased by two dogs for a couple of meters, I managed to navigate through the glass covered shoulder in to Elizabethtown. I stopped at a restaurant where I got myself a meal and got crackin' on some writing. The big Ohio River was running past town and after doing 20 more km over shoort, steep hills, I got to Cave In Rock where the ferry was going back and forth over the river that also made up the border between Illinois and Kentucky. I also met a couple biking across the country from New York who were in their day 40, taking their time across. I was very curious about Kentucky ever since I started planning for the trip because cyclists have been telling stories of poor areas coal mining areas in the eastern part and also the vicious stray dogs that reside here. 

As the ferry made its way over, an older guy in a truck shouted something and waved me over. He warned me about the "awfully steep" hills across the river and offered to take me and the bike in his truck over them. I politely declined the offer and tried to explain to him I had to do the whole thing myself, to which he responded "I ain't gon' rat you out!", in an thick southern accent. I first thought he was joking but after seeing he was dead serious I started to get a tiny bit worried. We talked more on the ferry ride across the river, but the sound of the engine and the accent made it really hard to catch anything this guy was saying. He also told me that I would head into Amish country for a couple of km once we get off the boat.

Riding into western Kentucky didn't seem much different at first but I really started to notice the accent more and more. After a quick stop in the first town I encountered - Marion, I pressed on in the now hotter temperatures. There wasn't much in terms of a place to stay between Marion and Sebree so after a tiring ride, I arrived at a cyclists-only lodging in a Baptist church in Sebree. I showed up pretty late and hadn't called ahead so I expected having to find someplace else, but the pastor Bob and his wife Violet who lived next door waved me over and showed got me checked in. Bob showed me around the huge basement and invited me and a British westbounder to supper at his house once I got cleaned up. The church had extremely necessary things to a traveler like 50'' TV, pool table and a drum set, but also good-to-have things like water, restroom and shower. 

The other cyclist - Elliot and I got a room and a matress each and headed off to supper. Being on the road for so long had made me miss home cooked food. No matter how good the restaurant food is, you get tired of it after a while and since this is America and apparently many restaurants along the way only consider fried stuff as people-food, it was heavenly with a home cooked meal. We had a most pleasant meal and Violet showed us pictures and told stories from visiting cyclists. Seeing photos of a disabled guy passing by on his cross country ride on an arm powered bike, dragging his own wheel chair really put the trip in perspective. 

After a long and hearty meal, Elliot and I headed back to the basement and chatted for a while before heading off to a bed. We had really hit it off and it was a shame this guy wasn't headed east as he would have made for a great riding partner. 

torsdag 24. juli 2014

Day 42: Slow Ride to Eddyville

91.6 km

The early morning riding started in the rain, and the cloudy weather kept the temperatures down as I navigated off route out of Carbondale. Once I got out to the quieter roads on route, I came to find that the road I was supposed to take was closed due to road work but I managed to get back on the route thanks to the help of Google Maps.

I wasn't feeling very good today and within the first 30 km I had made 4 wrong turns and one of them forced me to make a long detour. The light rain, thunder, wind and hilly terrain didn't make the day any better and it seemed like I had an endless stretch ahead of me to get to Goreville. I have from my previous tours learned that these kind of days regularly occur once in a while but it is all a part of the game. Once I got there I put on some dry clothes and sat down at a restaurant with a "Cyclists welcome" sign outside. I stayed there for quite some time to wait the worst part of the storm out and after a tasty meal, the nice waiter whispered to me that since I was a cyclist, I get dessert free. 

The ride towards Eddyville was incredibly tedious. My legs were moving but it didn't seem like I could get any traction. Although, the weather was clearing up and the combination of sunshine and recent rainfall created a dense fog that laid over the forest creating a mystical atmosphere. 

After climbing up a hill to Eddyville I was pretty tired and after eating dinner at a gas station I headed over to Hays Canyon Campground. The lovely host showed me to a nice spot near the showers and her kids came running out with a banana and an orange to give me. 

The now warmer weather prevented me from going to bed too early so I sat outside catching up on some writing before falling to a deep sleep in the tent. 

tirsdag 22. juli 2014

Day 41: Illinois!

141.3 km

Doing my best to leave the hostel in Farmington in the state I found it, I got going at around 7:30. During my stay in Farmington I had downloaded some audiobooks on my phone so the early morning kilometers with storytelling went by in a jiffy. I stopped after about 60 km to apply some more oil to the squeaking chain before pressing on towards Illinois. The terrain had been moderately hilly but as I closed in on the Mississippi river, it started to flatten out. The traffic had been quite terrible with huge coal trucks flying by very fast. 

Crossing into Illinois over the Mississippi river to the town of Chester, I stopped to take a bite to eat. The temperatures were working their way up to the high 30s centigrade by now and the high humidity made it very noticeable. Sweating intensely, I pushed on down the Mississippi levee alternative route hoping to get a scenic ride along the river. I decided to deviate from both the mapped alternative and the main route by cutting straight through to Murphysboro, after seeing that the route didn't offer that great of a view of the river. The heat was bearable as long as I kept moving, generating a wind, but when I slowed down to start a long climb up to Murphysboro and the air was relatively still around me and the increased physical labor made for a tiring ride. By the time I got to the top, I was so warm that I poured half a bottle of water over my head and headed into decent to cool off. When I arrived shortly after in Murphysboro I looked for a park to lay down and relax due to the long ride in the tiring heat. Riverside park was a huge quiet area with trees and benches so I filled my water bottles and found a place in the shade and rolled out my sleeping mat.

The short ride to the neighboring city of Carbondale was pretty ok and due to the lack of camping possibilities I checked in at shady motel. It was bitter having to take to a motel and I later regretted not pressing on another 30 km to a campground. 

Day 40: Layover in Farmington

It felt extremely weird not to have to bike today. I had gotten into this routine of cycling every day and I kind of felt guilty but at the same time that I had deserved a day off. I took my time this morning doing some laundry and chilling out. Foster and Anthony had planned to go to the bike shop that didn't open until 10:00, so we hung around the hostel until then.

I enjoyed a coffee at a nice coffee shop one block away, catching up on some Norwegian news before heading back to the hostel to say goodbye to the guys. The whole rest of the day went by very quickly with some bike maintenance and lengthy conversations with home. I also went to a supermarket and passed by a gun shop that I just had to walk in to. Watching all the stuff they had there and talking to the guys that worked there was quite an experience of its own. 

Anthony and Foster had warned that there were some eastbound cyclist headed for Farmington just down the road, so I expected that there would be some more people at the hostel but as the evening went by, no one arrived and I had this huge place all to myself. 

After having a beer and a delicious pasta meal at a local restaurant, I headed back to the hostel and went to sleep - ready for a new period of cycling.