Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 18: Friend for an hour

Day #18) June 30, 2011. Owensboro, KY to Morganfield, KY: 64 miles in 5:10 hrs.

The heat is just getting ramped up today at 85 in Morganfield. To me it feels like 105! I just don’t do well in the heat. The high is supposed to be like 90-92, so with my early start I beat the really scorching part of the day.

So last night was another Chinese buffet, and it was a LU LU of a time. This was one of those “super buffets” where there was about 5 different tabled rows of food. And let me tell you, half of KY was in this place. And I swear, you go into one of those places and it’s just amazing to see all the overweight people. It’s like 4 for every 5 of the folks in there is considerably overweight. Not trying to be nasty here – just an observation - but wow, no wonder our country is on the verge of stratospheric obesity problems. I mean they keep right up with me in the eating dept., and I’d just gotten done spending 5 hrs in the saddle. I guess it’s kind of hypocritical for me to to diss those folks when I’m eating 4 bloody plates of Chinese food in one sitting just like them!

Now my stay in the Owensboro Motel 6 was a close second to the Berea Day’s Inn – the whole cleaning staff looked to be from Jamaica, what with the braided and corn-rowed hairdos. I even came around the corner and saw a Rasta dude giving this chick a sniff of some dope (gib, pot, marjijuana) that was in this container. When they saw me they gave me this gnarly stare, like “What the F--- you looking at?” My bad dude, and I just kept on walking, right around the corner to my room that I deadbolted, double locked, and put a piece of 2x4 between the door and the bed frame! Crazy place. Then my neighbors up above me on the second floor, well, they were having a “Thank God it’s Wednesday” party out on the balcony for like 4 hours, laughing, drinking, smoking, and who knows what else. Another day of battening down the hatches and working on the computer in my meager little AC room and having a few Fosters Lagers. I really needed a bottle of Jack Black to put me out of my misery!

Got up at 4am to get an early start on the day due to the weather forecast of 90+ degrees for today. Went across the street to a 24/7 gas mart for my breakfast – large coffee, 2 doughnuts and 2 bananas. Went back to my room and worked for an hour and ate and drank coffee. Then was on the road at 5:50am. Now that I’m in the Central Time Zone the sun is rising at like 5am. It’s great for my style of riding because I like to start super early and end super early before the heat and wind of the day. So I got rolling through the west end of town to pick up Rt 56, and as I was rolling up to my turn this guy on a recumbent pulled out and I could see him trying to catch up to me from my mirror. Well, he caught me just before I was to get on this busy Rt 81/56. That’s when he asked where I was going. Told him to Morganfield on Rt 56. That’s when Dan advised me to follow him to avoid the nasty “city section” of 56. “Way too busy,” he told me.

“Follow me,” he added, “I’ll get you to a better spot on 56.” So we got on the sidewalks and I followed him, with us eventually ending up on this asphalt bike and hike trail that kind of skirted the city. Now Dan was doing pretty darned good on that recumbent as we were clipping along at like 14-15 mph. Then he said, “awh, I’ll ride with you for a bit and get you further out on 56.” So he took me on these amazing little backroads through farm country. Now it was like 6:30 am, with the sun just rising up, cool morning air, no traffic, calm as could be and just wonderful scenery. This was the highlight of my day. No way I could have found roads like that. And we began chatting, which felt great for me, having done solo rides for the past four days. Dan is retired and just recovering from cancer, so he’s only been back on the bike for a short time. But he’s doing really well riding, believe me. Said he’s been riding for 20+ years and that the bike kind of saved his life from an unhealthy lifestyle. Reminds me of me back when I was in my late teens! I was a real piece of work back then. He was a true gentleman and a funny guy, kind of poking fun about the hillbillies in KY. I told him that me being an Ohioan, that we Ohioans are goofed on to by people from the east and west coast about being hillbillies and farmers. It’s all perspective. I did tell Dan that down in Southern KY, now that was an eye-opener for hill folk. That was like a totally different world.

So we went across this wonderful landscape of farm country with corn, soy beans and tobacco just chatting away, and finally we got to Rt 56. And Dan said he’d ride a bit further with me, up to W. Louisville. Rt 56 by this time was a very nice little country road that kind of rolled up and down across the farm country, and I had a totally enjoyable time riding with Dan on his home turf – he’s a lifelong resident of this area. Then he went a bit further to St. Joseph, where there was this really stunning nunnery out in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful place, and that’s where Dan bid me farewell, and I continued on my own. It was crazy but it was almost as if I was saying farewell to an old friend, this after just 1 hour of riding with the man. The road continued to roll, with nothing in the little cookie range, but they rolled and dipped nonetheless. The heat was just intensifying in a big way, and I was starting to feel pretty scorched by about 4 hours into the day with the continued climbing in and out of the saddle. I totally knocked off my two waterbottles by that time, but pretty much could tough it out for the final hour.

This is my preferred “siege style” of cross country riding – going non-stop for the day due to heat and wind - to pretty much do the whole ride without taking time off for refueling on food and water. I’m into the non-stop way of riding distance. When I stop, I want to be DONE. None of that stiff legs stuff after a half hour or hour off the bike. Now I’ve done it differently, especially riding with Barney in the Canadian Maritimes, but that’s much easier to do with a partner when you both go in and have some lunch or something. But when I’m solo, I just hate stopping! Period. Now the old buttocks really takes a beating being seated for 5+ hrs, but that’s the downside I’m willing to live with. Matter of fact my arse is so tender that I have to put a pillow down on the chairs when I sit down to work on the computer. And I’m glomming on BodyGlide like it’s butt butter!

Made it to Morganfield in like just over 5 hrs. Now I was tempted to shoot for Shawneestown just across the Ohio River in IL, but that would have been another 20+ miles with the heat on the increase. So I bagged it in Morganfield with just under 65 miles for the day. Have to say with this heat I was kind of groggy for a bit after getting off the bike. Heat just destroys me. Got a nice little motel room and just slammed water for 5 min, cup after plastic cup, non-stop. Then I was directed to the town’s Subway, just 2 blocks from my motel, where I sawed through 2 footlongs. Same response as usual from the wait staff – disbelief in one person ordering two footlongs to eat in house. I finished those subs before some of the people who had been eating there before me – and some just had half a sub total! Knocked out 2 32-oz fountain cokes and I was feeling human again.

I’m working on a big Fosters oilcan at the moment finishing up a half day of work on the computer. More Subway in about an hour and then off to bed early for another early start. Now I’d emailed the Carbondale cycling club this morning about the best route to get me through southwestern IL up to the St. Louis area. The president of the club got back to me asap and gave me a route through IL up to the E. St. Louis area. Then I’d sent another email to the folks who own the bike shop at the start of the Katy Trail in MO, about the best way to get to St. Charles from the east side of the Mississippi River in IL, and they were prompt in sending me a map my ride map of the best route. Looks like I’ll be riding along the east side of the Mississippi River for a day or so. I’m guesstimating that it will take me 3-4 days to get to the start of the Katy Trail.

All the best………Pete

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