Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 14: Escape from Hell

Day #14) June 26, 2011. Berea, KY to Harrodsburg, KY: 45 miles in 4 hrs.

Watching the weather last night I was bummed to find that a front was coming through last night and lasting into today, with some very heavy T-storms forecast. So I hit the hay wondering if I’d be stuck in the Hell Hole for another day. And speaking of the Hell Hole Hotel, last night was just amazing. The chicks and the kids and the dudes were out sitting on the sidewalk in front of their motel room last evening for a good 2 hours. I mean that door next store was a virtual revolving door with people coming in and out. Then they were blowing caps off or something around 10pm, just the time I hit the bed.

Got up at 5:30am and immediately turned on the weather channel - to see that this massive storm front was like about 40 miles away from Berea. So I was super bummed to know that I wasn’t getting on the bike to ride right into the eye of the storm at my 7am etd. Nope, with an 80% chance of rain for the day, and that front cranking down on Berea, It looked like I’d be staying the day in the Hell Hole Hotel yet again. And bad thing about that was that one of the 10 or 12 dudes who duck in and out of the door next door, well he was wrenching on his car at 6am right in front of my door. He’d be clanking around of a few minutes and then try to start the car, each time with a no-go on the car starting. He must have been there clanking and wrenching for an hour. Finally – and believe you me I was silently cheering for him to get the freaking thing fixed so he’d high tail it the hell out of there – it started. Then he proceeded to race around the parking lot testing all the gears. It sounded like the warm up to a county fair stock car race.

Then the morning light was replaced by morning dark, and that T-storm front moved in by 7am, and it rained like hell for about an hour. I just hung tight feeling sorry for myself being stuck in the Hell Hole for another day. Watched the Weather Channel like I was addicted to it just hoping against all odds that the thing would move out and I’d be able to escape. So I got my KY Gazetteer out and mapped out an “escape” ride, a ride to get me just a few miles down the road, or maybe even 40 miles down the road. Anywhere other than the Day’s Inn Hell Hole of Berea, KY.

So then I ambled through the rain and into the lobby for the “Complementary Continental Breakfast.” Yea right – wonder bread, stale dried cereal, milk and little plastic spoon-full containers of jelly (the kind you get at Bob’s Big Boy to go with your toast). So I indulged in two pieces of toasted Wonder Bread with jelly for my breakfast. I had coffee from the push-mug and then poured it out after one taste. My suspicion was that it was yesterdays coffee warmed up! The owner wasn’t even up yet and no one was in the lobby for breakfast, so that told me that most everyone at the motel LIVED there. No guests like me. Nope, no one that stupid. God I had to get the hell out of that place, it just gave me the creeps.

So the rain had began to let up after my stellar breakfast. And that’s when my escape planning proceeded in earnest. Did some map work, then looked at latest Doppler map, did some map work, looked at Doppler. More people in and out of the next door room. The weather looked like it had passed to the east so I quickly packed my gear to make for the nearest road out of there. Locked the motel door with key inside at 9:30am and headed into a very slight drizzle. No worries though…….I was FREE! Past the owner in the parking lot on my full rig. Told him the key was in the room and then I pedaled the hell out of there. Problem was that I took a wrong turn and ended up on a dead-end road. Had to ask the guards at a gate for a big company how to get to 595 N, and they pointed me in the right direction.

Got on several really nice little backcountry roads and suddenly Berea, KY was far over my shoulder. Now I had to contend with a bike that went from 40 lbs in weight to like 120 lbs in weight what with the front panniers and the yak in tow. OUCH! That first ride with full gear is always an eye-opener. But I was rolling and that was better than sitting. The wind was very strong out of the SW, and made riding to the west on that dinosaur of a rig even harder. Was middle cookie the whole time. Not even a chance in hell I’d be able to push the big cookie. And to make matters worse my left IT band was kind of barking at me. So I had to keep it light on the pedals and go with easier gears on the seated climbs. Now I hadn’t ridden with full gear for nearly a year, but it came back super fast, and within 15 min I was out of the saddle climbing and rolling along at like 9-10mph. It was slow, but hell, hauling all that gear up and down the backroads of KY, I was ok with it.

And speaking of hills, I’d noticed today that the really big stuff was back behind me to the east. Nor more big mts in front of me or at my sides. It was all just rolling countryside. It was farm country. But even the littlest of these hills was a toughie with all that gear on the bike. Now since I’d planned on doing a lot of backroad on this trip I tried something today that I’ve never used before on a bike – a mirror. Yea, I’d always been one of those snooty Roadies who wouldn’t be caught dead with a mirror on my helmet or handlebars – it’s a Roadie thing - but I thought it would be a very good idea to mount one on my handlebars once I got going with full gear. Well, today was the first day for the mirror. And I really liked being able to see back down the road on those narrow backroads, especially when I’d have to go out of the saddle. Yup, I’m a mirror guy on this trip!

So the going was slow and occasionally there would be a spritzing of drizzle for 5 or 10 minutes, and I was wondering just when the heavens would open up and I’d get a drenching. But, nonetheless I had escaped from the Hell Hole, and I was willing to take my medicine for it. Made it to Lancaster in just under two hours. Scenario one was done and I was good to go for scenario two – Danville, another hour down the road. The weather was holding so I went for it. Made Danville in another hour and decided to go for the whole enchilada – Harrodsburg. Weather was still holding. So I got directions to Harrodsburg from a sweet old lady coming out of a church and she had told me to take 127 N for 12 miles. She proceeded to tell me all about Danville and it’s history and how I could stay the night at their house if I wanted to. I thanked her but told her I had to keep moving for the day because I’d gotten a late start. So when I came to the sign for Harrodsburg it read: 6 miles. Done! Rode 127 on a super large berm all the way to Harrodsburg.

Got close to town and saw a couple of creepy motels, and just kept rolling. I was still stinging from the Berea Day’s Inn. Then got into town and saw a couple more seedy places – the Kentucky Inn and a flop-house looking place. But I’d seen a sign for a place called the Country Hearth, and it sounded nice and homey. So I held out and kept riding. Rode all the way through town and kind of felt resigned that it was going to be the Kentucky Inn by default. So I U-turned and then saw the sign for the Country Hearth. NICE PLACE! And for like 45 bucks, a super bargain. No derelicts, no seedlyness, no guests rolling in and out of the room next door.

Got situated and then went to DQ and got three of the big “solo” burgers: chicken crispy, beef with onions and mushrooms and the bacon cheese. Yea, the chick looked at me like, “is this all for you?” Gone. Going to get a great night’s sleep tonight and put in a good day tomorrow. Looks like chance of rain at 40% tomorrow and then 30% on Tues, and then the rest of the week around here is all sun. – well that’s what they say right now anyway!

This, as has been the case for almost everyplace around here, is a dry county. No beer! This state is killing me. Nothing better than an icy cold one after a full day of riding. Water? Gatorade? You kidding me?

Want to send a shout out to all my good friends in my fitness class at Summa. I haven’t even had a chance to get those Subway cards rolling yet, but I will! And all the goodies that you gave me? Awesome! Those lasted us for about 2 weeks of snacking, and I finished off the last bar and the salted peanuts yesterday. Thanks again everyone I was really touched by your kindness……….Pete

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