Day #17) June 29, 2011. Rough River State Park, KY to Owensboro, KY: 52 miles in 4:08 hrs.
Would have loved to hang at the State Park for another day – beautiful place and awesome little bungalow - but the price and the time just didn’t justify it, so I was off again by 7am headed to Owensboro. Now the ranger yesterday had told me it was 54 miles on the route I had planned to do. Again, on these little county backroads as opposed to the main state routes – and that spells some serious climbing. Matter of fact once I got off of 79 and turned onto this little county road 736 the proverbial ---- hit the fan. No illusions today, I hit that little cookie on the very first climb, and it was long and steep – not as steep as the motha that damn near did me in yesterday, but steep nonetheless. I mean I began the thing by doing this steep and winding descent - and you could just feel it coming, and I was kind of laughing out loud again at what I knew was coming. And sure enough, WHAM, this stairway to heaven of a climb awaited me.
Made it ok to the top, and PR’d with how early into a day’s ride I pulled out the trusty sweat rag for my head – exactly 40 min into the day! But got to tell you that despite these climbs this road was just so wonderful. It was like a lane and a half wide, just enough for one car to travel full lane, and the scenery was amazing as I climbed to the top. Kind of reminded me of the west, what with the conifers and the smell of pine up near the top. With fresh legs it was very enjoyable. Tell you what, had I gone for Owensboro yesterday with 60+ miles already in my legs, this and the other climbs today would have been pure hell to endure. I think during my entire time on 736 one car passed by. Had a total of 3 little cookie climbs on 736 alone.
Then it was onto Rt 54, and again, another nice county road. First 15-20 miles were rolling with some little and middle cookie climbs. None were as steep as the ones on 736, but I was determined to end the day with legs that weren’t totally spent, so little cookie was the word for the day. I guess that once I broke the ice with the little cookie yesterday, it was a no-brainer. Don’t know what I was thinking, but sometimes I’m just a hard-head and muscle up climbs as if I’m just on my road bike with no gear. But what with all those little maligning knee issues lately, got to have a cool head. So with that mindset, and with fairly fresh legs it was very comfortable to do everything today. And zero knee issues.
The second 15-20 miles on 54 was a different story. All of a sudden, past the town of Whitesville, the traffic got super heavy. I mean I was looking in my mirror constantly to make sure I was off as far as I could go to the right on the berm. Which brings me to this….why in the hell is every road in the state of KY got rumble strip on the berm? It’s maddening. I mean there’s usually about 1-3 feet of berm on most roads. Yet they put that ground-in rumble strip on virtually every road there is no matter how wide the berm. Sometimes the berm is nothing more than one foot of rumble strip for God’s sake. Makes me think that the drivers in KY are so bad that they need that rumble strip to keep them from driving off of all the roads. Are they too sleepy, to DUI, to sloppy of drivers? It’s crazy.
So when 54 got busy, that precious 2-3 feet of berm, that was my home, and be damned if ¾ of that strip was rumble! Now I would venture into the “rumbleland” on many occasions just to stay the hell out of the way. But it was very annoying to hit that strip and feel like you’re riding one of those cheeky massage beds in a dumpy motel room. Got passed by logging trucks, lumber trucks and just regular 18-wheelers. Thankfully everyone was really cool to me, and really went out of their way to give me room. On some occasions I’d dip into the asphalt apron of a driveway to give the big guys more room to get by me. So far so good in KY with the traffic. I’m getting the waves and thumbs up from people as I’m riding along. And when I do make the effort to get out of the way, or wave a driver to pass me, I’m getting waves yet again.
Actually made it to Owensboro in a tad over 4 hours. The distance was just over 50 miles, so this was a short one for sure. I actually felt really good at the end. Hit a Subway for a single footlong and then checked my phone for emails and calls just to kind of take some time such that I wouldn’t get into the city too, too early. Now I was in the same position today as yesterday, make it a short to moderate day or go for the gold with a super long day. My choice was the former, to stay put here in Owensboro and not go another 60-70 miles to Morganfield, KY. Nope, I’m good with an easy day. So I got a 40-buck cheapie Motel 6. And wouldn’t you know it, after 3 days of ending up in dry counties at the end of each ride, I finally landed in a “WET” county. So the first thing I did was to go to a little beer store next to the Motel 6 (yea, that tells you something about the quality of the motel venue doesn’t it?), and bought a Fosters oil can, and then sat poolside with a cold beer in the 87-degree heat. Wonderful!
Been working for the past 3-4 hrs in the motel. There’s a Chinese buffet just across the street, so that’s my future for din-din. Not a great neighborhood here – kind of reminds me of Howe Rd in Akron near Chapel Hill Mall what with all the commercial establishments and the traffic. But it will do. Tomorrow I’m going to shoot for Morganfield, KY or maybe, if I’m riding well and the terrain is moderate, I’ll take it into Southwestern IL and cross the Ohio River.
On to Missouri ……Pete