fredag 1. august 2014

Day 49: Coal Country

114.5 km

We all woke up at 6:00 to a cool and cloudy morning. Ben and Phil were gone by 8:00 and had planned on reaching Council, a good ride from Combs. They were also planning on reaching the endpoint of the trip -Yorktown,VA within a week, so I thought I would have to let them go sooner or later and really start to cut down on mileages. I stayed at the motel until check-out time at 11:00 before heading off into the hills again. Before long, I caught up with Chris and Nathan going up a hill, two older guys doing the TransAm with a support car. They had only two weeks off during the summer so they rode the trail two weeks per year, picking up where they left off the last year. Chris had been clipped by a truck during a climb earlier in the day. The mirror of the truck had hit him in the back and his left arm thanks to a driver who was so blinded by the sun he didn't see the cyclist and Chris was obviously pretty shaken up. 

I stopped shortly after to commence the ritual of wiping and lubricating the chain, loosing touch with the guys. After making a short stop to buy some fruit by the side of the road, I stopped once more in Hindman to restock some food. Here I talked to a very pleasant guy who asked about the trip and told me stories of when the trail was first established in 1976 and hundreds of people from all over the world came pouring through the area on two wheels. 

Biking along one of the bigger roads that had been blasted through some of the smaller hills, it was fascinating to watch the layers that made up the hillsides with seams of coal slicing through. Coal mining was a huge business in Kentucky due to the large amount that could be found here. Unlike in the western part of the state, coal was extracted through huge gashes in the land, rather than through underground deposits but today the industry is developing underground as well. 

Slowly making my way over some of the steeper hills I have ever seen in my entire life, I finally got to Lookout, a place with seemingly nothing but a vending machine where I had planned on spending the night. Chris, Nathan and their driver Joel were already at the Baptist Center that had clearly once been an indoor basketball court. The guys invited me to dinner which they had prepared in the kitchen, but I had to decline due the rather large amount of food I was carrying. After a nice shower and some food, I got talking with Joel who was a college student being paid by the two cyclists to drive with them during the summer. He was very religious but very open minded and had some very interesting insights and we sat up talking until midnight. After having my safety and well-being been prayed for, we headed off to sleep on the open wooden floor. 

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