Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 16: Rolling the rock uphill

Day #16) June 28, 2011. Elizabethtown, KY to Rough River State Park, KY: 63 miles in 5:03 hrs.

Another day of a KY butt kicking. Wow, this state is super beautiful but let me tell you – it’s grueling to ride across east to west. More on that in a minute.

Last night I was ambling over to the Texas Roadhouse for a beer when I got sidetracked – by a sign at Shoney’s for an all you can eat dinner buffet. Now I’m just a total sucker for buffets! So I kind of stood there for a minute weighting my options. On one side I hadn’t had that wonderful cold beer after a ride for like 3 days; conversely on the other side my belly was just doing it’s best to convince me to forsake the beer and eat, eat, eat. The belly won!

Crushed like 4 plates in Shoney’s. Now we’re not taking gourmet here, but I was just on fire nonetheless, going for fried chicken, catfish and pork chops with peppers and onions. And I did my fair share of veggies to. That was like 4 hrs after I’d eaten 2 foot long subs at Subway. It’s like a sickness I swear. I mean this intense appetite thing is just off the charts when you’re riding 5+ hrs a day, especially when the intensity level is high from all the hill and mt climbing. Honestly, there are times when I just want to eat more food at like 9 or 10pm in the evening. I am trying to curb my fat intake from last year’s trip where I was wolfing down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s a night – on top of dark beer. Ok, enough of the eating thing.

Got on the road at 6:45 this morn with the clouds just thick, dark and gloomy as all heck from the line of thunder storms that rolled in last night and pretty much flooded the area over the course of 6-7 hrs of raining. When I turned on the Weather Channel there were flood warnings for some of the counties I would be riding through today. Roads were still soaking wet, and the air was as thick as cheese. The forecast was for clearing skies, but there was the chance for some stray showers up through 9am. Got it rolling anyway. This was to be a big day, as I was hoping to make it to Owensboro. I knew it was a long haul, but not quite sure exactly how long. My gazetteer is just not easy to judge distances from. So I kind of guestimate each day. But it looked to be a solid 80 miles.

Rolled out of town on a fairly main road, and figured that to be about a 40-minute ride. Turned out to be 1:15 hrs on that puppy. Finally got on this super little county road, rt 84 west. It was true bliss – nice and flat to gently rolling farmland as far as the eye could see. Stopped at one point to move a little bird out of the middle of the road, and then I was playing catch-up with a couple of young Amish guys riding a buggy down the road for like 5 miles. Caught them and gave a friendly wave and they giggled at me rolling by. I know for a fact that they were pushing that horse just a tad to try to stay ahead of me. That was an hour or so of riding that was just so awesome – warm early morning, the smell of all the miles corn and soybeans layering the landscape, and those Amish kids rolling down the road, with zero traffic, just me in back of them. It was another pinch me moment.

Now this rt 84 just went on forever. And once I crossed Rt 60 all of a sudden 84 took on a more punishing face – hills, hills, and more hills – steep, crushing hills. And I kind of laughed out loud and said: “here we go again.” Now my legs have been playing tricks on me as of late. I’m getting these ghost pains that kind of migrate from day to day. One day it’s my left ITB, the next day it my left medial quad, and then the next day it’s my right medial quad. Every day it’s seems to be a different ghost pain. Well, today it was the left ITB again. Nothing bad mind you, but just enough to let me know it’s there. So again, I backed off the choice of big gears to climb with in leu of the smaller gears I could spin faster with. And I want to tell you that officially today, June 28th, I had to use the little cookie in the back.

Forget the pride, the ego, the hard-ass attitude. Gone. When I saw that first steep hill it was like an automatic response. No time to kind of think it over it was just – BAM – little cookie. It at least enabled me to spin in the saddle instead of strain and bust in the middle ring. Ok, so I’d broken the ice with the little cookie. Now it would become a part of the trip. And then, like 30 min later, after about 4 middle cookie climbs I did this crazy descent, like a zoomer down a roller coaster, and I was thinking: “man I am royally screwed, I am totally screwed!” Now this was on a little country road that was about 1.5 lanes wide, nowhere near wide enough for two cars to pass at the same time. So I just slammed the big ring and tried to get my momentum as high as possible. Then I hit it, and it was just unbelievable.

And as I shifted to my new friend, the little cookie, it made me think of one of my clients who had just done reps on Oak Hill back home. She was lamenting at how intimidated she was by that hill, and how slow she was climbing it – at about 3-4 mph. so I looked down at my speedometer and guess what? 2.8 mph! That’s right. So I was out of the saddle just doing all I could to not fall over, and then got over the thing where it leveled for about 30 meters and then ramped up again into the heavens. That’s where I shifted. And it was kind of a panic shift so I wouldn’t fall over. Well, I ended up over shifting and threw the chain into the spokes. The chain and derailleur locked up immediately. And that’s a feeling you just don’t want to experience, especially when climbing a bloody wall for God’s sake. As soon as the chain bound I instinctively unclipped with both feet hitting the road. Keep pedaling and you’ll very likely twist the derailleur hanger right off of the frame or pull the derailleur right into the spokes and break it in half – in either of those scenarios you’re SOL Charley.

Now the dilemma: I had to pull the chain out of the spokes because they were super locked up. Couldn’t even move the bike because when the back wheel turned it pulled at the chain and pulled the derailleur right smack dab into the spokes. So I was stranded: couldn’t move the bike forward or backwards. Couldn’t move it at all. So I one handed the handlebars with the front bags just wanting to twist the front end while I reached down with the other hand and tried in vain to pull the black, greasy chain out of the spokes. Not a chance! Probably could have lacerated my fingers pulling on that chain if I’d of pulled hard enough. Nope, I had to take off the mirror, lay the bike down in place in the middle of the road, yak and all connected, so I could have access to the drive train and so I could go to the side of the road and get a stick to pry the chain out. By that time the temp was like 84 degrees with this gnarly horrible humidity. So I was sweating like a freaking crazy man, just dripping wet and wondering if a car was going to come up out of the abyss on me or down into the abyss on me, or if I was going to find that I’d done some damage to the hanger or derailleur. My one hand was just black with grease, and my head was just dripping sweat like a waterfall.

Got a good sized stick and began prying very carefully, so as to not damage the derailleur or the chain or the spokes or the hanger. Had to use both hands at one point, one to pull the derailleur out to get the stick in, the other hand to pry on the stick which was biting on the chain - just a bite at a time. Finally got it and turned the pedals to flip the chain on, but it just flipped right back into the spokes. Pried again, this time pretty easily, and got it back on a ring. Then flipped to shifter to move the chain to the left. Done. Now getting that whole train back up, that was a feat un to itself. But I did it without damaging anything. Remounted the bike, turned downhill, got clipped in, did a U-turn, and then took another stab at that second hump on the climb. I hadn’t walked a hill in 2 cross country trips, and I wasn’t about to take one today. So I got it going and surmounted the damned thing. Once I topped out I found a stretch of grassy weeds and cleaned my hands off as best as possible, and then I remounted my left hand mirror.

Wiped sweat off of my head like a maniac and then continued. Everything seemed ok. Hanger looked to still be in line, and derailleur seemed to be straight. But that effort just took everything out of me. It was about a half mile long. Not long after that there was this gradual climb that spanned about 2 miles. At the end of it was the end of Rt 84. Loved it/hated it! But I was glad to be done with it. Then I cruised for a while on some good, ridge-top roads continuing west. Turned into Rough River State Park and stopped at a rangers station to guzzle water. Inside I was talking to a ranger telling him of Rt 84. He was ear to ear smile! Then I asked the distance to Owensboro, to which he replied 54 miles. That was it right there. I already had 60+ miles, and piling 54 more on that? Nope, I was done for the day. He told me I could camp or hit the lodge. With 85 degrees and a dewpoint in the 70’s that was a no-brainer. To the lodge James!

Great little place, and kind of reminds me of Salt Fork in Ohio. Got a room and then ……lunch buffet!!!!!!! Yea baby. My kind of place. Took a while for my room to be ready due to me loosing an hour of time, having passed into the Central Time Zone, and me starting so bloody early. I had 5 hrs in, but it was only 11am when I got there and the check-out was like 1pm or something. So they let me park my bike and yak in the office while I cleaned up the greasy mess on myself in the restroom and then went to lunch. Crushed like 4 plates and 6 glasses of ice water.

Just got back from the……dinner buffet!!!!! Another super eating session. Relaxing here in my little room with a full length wall window with a deck outside overlooking the lake. Nice way to end a tough day.

Tomorrow thru Sat is supposed to be very good weather, so I’ll just keep the train rolling west. Late……..pete

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