It is finished

Well, as many of you may already know through Facebook, I have finished the ride and I am now home. It was an amazing journey. Many highs, lows and in betweens. Some pain, both physical and emotional, but generally speaking, a great trip and something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

To start off, I guess I will recap my last day on the road. That was Tuesday. I started the day in Ashland, which is just north of Richmond. I was beat. Although I had just taken a rest day Saturday, both Sunday and Monday had been long days with lots of miles. I had a court date scheduled for Friday morning and a flight home for early Thursday, so I had been pushing to get the trip done with enough time to have a day to organize my activities and ship my bike home. So there I was, just 98 miles from the end in good shape to finish in my allotted time, but exhausted, sore and generally drained both mentally and physically. I was ready to get this thing over with and go home.

First things first, I decided to get a good breakfast. Just a little up the street was a Waffle House. Two waffles and a coffee later, I felt ready to tackle the day. I started fairly early. I was on the road by 8:00 and enjoying the change of terrain. Finally some flats!

Things went well for the morning. Although tired and sore, I was keeping a decent pace and tried to take a break about every 10-15 miles. Just often enough to get what I needed as far as nutrition and a rest, but not so often that I would extend the day too much. I also tried to keep the breaks to about 5 minutes. Gotta keep moving!

By midday, I had come about 60 miles and was feeling good about my progress, but I was really feeling tired. The breaks became longer. Not a lot, but I noticed.

When I crossed the Chickahominy River with about 30 miles to go, I felt like the end was in sight. I was on a bike path mirroring the John Tyler Highway and just past the river, the path turned south alongside highway 614 toward Jamestown. This colonial area seemed to be the beginning of the end for me. Not only in terms of nearing the end of my day, and thus the trip, but also in terms of my stamina. I had no desire to keep going.

As I reached the park surrounding Jamestown and then turned onto the Colonial National Historic Parkway, I began stopping at almost every roadside sign. They were very interesting and told the story of the early settlers and their plight with the Indians in the area, but the real reason for my stops was I wanted to stop. I was done.

I made my way slowly along the parkway and eventually to Williamsburg. My intention had been to stop and find something to eat and take a nice break, but I found no place to stop immediately along the route and before I realized it, I was out of town and headed toward Yorktown. With just 13 miles remaining, I decided I would eat in Yorktown as a
celebration.

After a grueling little ride with enormous amounts of traffic that gave very little room, I finally reached Yorktown! The route took me down through the historic colonial district right along the York River. All the way through the small village at the end of town was the awesome monument commemorating the surrender of the British in the Revolutionary War. It was amazing to see, not only because of the significance of the monument in regards to the history of our country, but also because my map said that the route ends at said monument. I was done with the Trans Am.

You might expect a sign or a banner or maybe someone standing there saying “you did it!”, but there were no such things. Actually, there wasn’t anyone there. Just me. I looked around hoping to find at least one person to ask to take my picture or someone to tell that I had just rode my bike 4555 miles across the country. It was a futile exercise. I was alone.

How anticlimactic is that?! It seems it was a great lesson. This trip wasn’t about the opportunity to tell anyone about what I had accomplished. It wasn’t about any sort of recognition that I might receive. It was strictly about a dream that I had and the completion of said dream and what it meant to me. As I stood there with my bike, walking around this beautiful monument and reading the inscriptions on it, I was humbled. My accomplishment of riding across the country obviously pales in comparison to what people had went through to fight for us to be a free nation. Perspective is key in the realization of
significance. I’ll come back to that thought.

After about 15 minutes, two young guys came running down the road. Out for a jog, they were talking and I felt guilty asking them to stop, but I did. They came over and took my picture and I told them what I had done. They said congratulations and went on there way, as did I. That was the pomp and circumstance! LOL!

Now I had a different journey ahead. Without the benefit of a set of maps to tell me what roads would be good to cycle on or where I would find eats, drinks or a bed, I needed to find my way south through Newport News and Hampton, over(and/or under) the James River and into Norfolk, where I would then need to find a way to ship my bike home and get myself on a plane to fly to St Louis on Thursday at 6:00AM. The trip would be roughly 35 miles, but I couldn’t ride my bike the whole way. Not only is it illegal to ride on interstate highways in Virginia, but you are forbidden from riding on the bridges and tunnels that cross the James River in and around the area. My choices were two, as I saw it.

One, I could ride back up to Jamestown and take the ferry across, then south and east through Norfolk and it’s suburbs to where I needed to go, totaling somewhere around 100 miles. With just 36 hours before I would be flying home and plenty of things to do to prepare for said trip, that wouldn’t work.

Two, I could call a cab and pay out the wazzoo to haul me and my bike to the area around the airport. I chose to pay out the wazzoo.

First I had to find somewhere to eat. After passing through Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown without eating, I was famished and started getting the shakes. I’m not a skinny guy and you would think my body would find something on this frame of mine to sustain itself, but it wasn’t working that way. I needed to eat and quickly.

The first place I found was a gas station along highway 17 about 7 miles down the road. I had the worst hamburger I had on the trip, a honey bun, a king size 3 Musketeers candy bar and a 20 oz Minute Maid pink lemonade.

That did the trick. By the time I finished everything, I was feeling much better and considered riding on south a ways before I called a cab. But it was getting late. It would be dark in about an hour and the main roads were way too big and had lots of traffic. Not a safe situation. So I called a cab. They picked me up in about 10 minutes and I was on my way to Norfolk.

The cab ride cost me $100. I thought I was going to gag when I had to pay the guy. I came to terms with it quickly. I was safe and done with the trip. Not long to go and I would be on my way home.

I stayed at the Econolodge-Airport on North Military Highway. It was cheap and the
closest thing I could find to the airport, according to the map on my phone. But the neighborhood kinda scared me. The motel didn’t have a lobby, just a bullet proof glass window with a slot to pass documents and key cards. There were no gas stations or restaurants in site either direction. Only a used car lot, a transmission repair place and a seedy looking bar across the road. I went ahead and got checked in, went to my room and didn’t come out. I ordered Domino’s delivery for dinner, showered and watched TV. I also plotted my next moves. I had a plan for the next day. Then I slept. I was out before 10:00.

The next morning I slept till 8:00, but felt tired still. My legs were achy when I got up, but things would get better now that I didn’t have to get up and push everyday. My plan was to ride about 2 miles down the road to an area I determined might be better. According to the map on my phone, there were several motels in the area and places to eat. There was also a UPS store within a half mile so I could ship my bike. I got my things together and headed out about 10.

About a mile down the road, I found a Sonic and stopped for breakfast. Then fought traffic and got to the general area I was looking for. It wasn’t a lot better than where I had been the night before, but a little. I decided to try and save a couple bucks and checked in at the Motel 6. I looked at the room, which was kinda clean, but smelled a little bad, then rode to the UPS store.

On the way out to Portland, I had disassembled my bike, boxed it and all my gear up very carefully and checked the box as luggage on the plane. TSA found it necessary to open up the box, remove everything and put it back not near as carefully as I had first packed it. To eliminate this issue and not have to drag the box around Norfolk and St Louis airports, I had determined that I would ship my bike UPS.

So I sat in the UPS store, disassembled my bike, packed it and most of my things (other than my tooth brush, deodorant, phone charger and a small backpack I had with me) in a box and sent it all off on it’s way to my house. It was about $50 more than I thought it was going to be, but better to pack it and not have to worry about someone unpacking it. Hopefully it makes it home ok!

After stopping for lunch along the way back, I went to my room and watched TV. I ended up falling asleep for a couple hours. Later in the evening, I walked down the street to a gas station for some snacks and drinks, then went to bed before 10:00.

Up at 3:15 AM, I gathered my things for the final time and went to the office to check out. For some reason,  as I stood there in the office waiting for my cab to show, I found myself singing in my head, “Now I… had.. the time of my life. And I’ve never felt this way before.” You know the song. It seemed kind of fitting. Finishing up this tour and all and now headed home. In just a minute, the cab showed up outside and I went to get in. To my surprise, when I got in the cab, I heard Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes singing! How surreal! I laughed out loud and had to explain to the cab driver why.  How cool.

We headed to the airport and I was WAY early! I got there about 3:50 and found out the ticket counters didn’t open until 4:30. I couldn’t even check in as all the kiosks were down as well. Hurry up and wait.

At 4:30, I got checked in and was able to go through security. I had a terrible breakfast sandwich and waited for my flight.

My flight out of Norfolk left at 6:00 and arrived in Baltimore about 6:50. My first trip to Baltimore was a short one. I got off the plane, hurried along from one end of the airport to the other and didn’t have to wait but about 10 minutes before I boarded my plane to St Louis.

I arrived in STL a little before 9:00, Jeneen picked me up(yea!) and we headed home. Lunch was Hunt’s. What a way to be welcomed home!

Now that I’m back, I’ve been reflecting on the trip a bit. It seems a little silly to try to compare the trip to anything. Yes, it is quite a feat, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. I didn’t find myself while I was gone. I didn’t have any great epiphanies. I did learn that I am capable of a lot more than I give myself credit for. I also learned that I am pretty strong. Not necessarily physically, but mentally. To keep going day in and day out when you are beat up takes strength. I don’t know if this trip will help me along my
way in life, but I do know that I will remember things about it always.

Probably the most significant thing I learned on this trip is to not take life for granted. I’m glad I didn’t wait until I was retired to go on this adventure, like I thought I might have to. We are on this earth for a very short period of time. Many of us shorter than we think we might be. Before I left on this trip, I purchased a RoadID. Its a wristband that has my vital info on it and contact info for my wife in case I am unable to tell someone who to contact in an emergency. The last line on it had space for a motto or quote. I chose “live like you are dying”. You know why? I am. We all are. Everyday we get closer to death. It’s not a bad thing, I realize. Just part of life. We all die, and while I have no idea when that will be, I do know that I am going to make the most of life while I can. No sense waiting. I’m going to run another marathon. I’m going to participate in an Ironman. I plan to hike/run from rim to rim of the Grand Canyon. I want to climb Mt Ranier. My suggestion for you? Go follow your dreams. That’s living. If you wait, you are just waiting to die. Choose to live.

Last days stats:
Mileage-107.28
Total-4555.20
Trip time-7:01
Avg speed-15.26
Max speed-29.79
Climb-2501

Big day again

So today, with about 230 miles left, I really wanted to make some good mileage and posture myself to be able to finish tomorrow. First things first, I was up and at em early. I hit the road at 7:30. And it was cold!

Right out of the box, I had to climb from Waynesboro back up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I knew this was coming and it was welcome as it warmed me up. No longer cold when I reached the top, I looked forward to descending and having a fairly flat day. 

Well, that’s about all I had of flat. Just looking forward to it. I’m disappointed in the elevation profile on the map. Not even close. There wasn’t anything tall really, just roller after roller after roller. 

I stayed on the bike pretty well and kept the breaks to a minimum. Just trucking along. As the afternoon went on, the distance and rollers were getting to me and quite frankly, I was spent. If there had been a place to stay, I would have pulled up short and rescheduled my flight. 

But there wasn’t anywhere to go, and I’m glad. Last night looking at the map, I had thoughts of reaching Mechanicsville. I didn’t quite make it there. About 16 miles short, but I did make Ashland, which was my for sure spot. The place I wanted to make it to for sure. I rolled into town right at dark, about 6:15.

I still had a huge day and set myself up to be able to finish tomorrow. That just seems so weird to say. Tomorrow I will be done. Anyway, I have just 98 miles left. I’m going to cut this blog short and get to bed. I’m beat and it’s going to be another early morning. 

Stats:
Mileage-131.23
Total-4447.92
Trip time-8:43
Avg speed-15.04
Max speed-39.63
Climb-6384

Finishing up the Appalachains

I’m so glad I took yesterday off. Not only was the weather better today and I needed the rest, but it gave the snow a chance to melt to the north along the parkway. Yesterday would’ve been nasty and miserable, if not unsafe.  

I hit the road at 9:00, later than I wanted to, but it gave the temp a chance to come up a little. It was about 35 when I left. 

I tried to stay on the bike early and fight the urge to take breaks, even though I was cold. I had a big day planned and needed to keep moving.

That worked great until 20 miles in. I sold myself on the idea that I could take an early lunch. Better to sit down when it’s cold than when it warms up, or that’s what I told myself. So I had lunch at 10:30. 

I did a pretty good job of staying moving the rest of the day. I did take some breaks, but I also had quite a bit of climbing. The big one was from the village of Vesuvius up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Right at 2000′ of gain in about 4 miles. That’s steep my friends!

Once on the Blue Ridge, there was a few climbs, but the big fun was the views and the descents. Down I went into Waynesboro, where I intended on making today!

That puts me in pretty good shape for the rest of the trip. I should have just a few hills early on tomorrow, then mostly downhill, albeit an easy grade, to the coast. I’m about 225 miles from Yorktown now. 

Stats:
Mileage-99.53
Total-4316.69
Trip time-6:51
Avg speed-14.52
Max speed-39.11
Climb-6575

Time for a break

So here is the list of things I was thinking of for today:

-There was a massive storm system that is rolling through the northeast dumping rain and snow and causing temperatures to plummet.

-I’m in the northeast.

-Being in the northeast, I have come across the majority of the Appalachian Mountains, which has meant 44,000′ of climb over the last 700 miles.

-Having not taken a break in 9 days, I have been worn down.

Adding all those things together, I decided today was a good day to take off. I needed the rest and the weather is supposed to be better tomorrow.

So today I slept in, watched tv, took a nap, did laundry and took care of some bike maintenance. Tomorrow I’m off to cross the Blue Ridge and make some good headway. Should be just  a few more days until I’m done!

Cold and wet

After an absolutely AMAZING game six last night (!), I was excited to get going today and man up in the adverse weather conditions. I didn’t get out really early though. It was 9:00 when I left. Not bad seeing as it is getting daylight about 8:00. 

The road was wet, but it wasn’t raining at the time I set out. It was definitely cold though. Right at 40 degrees. As I rode, I warmed a little, but not much. My windbreaker was only breaking part of the wind. 

About 15 miles in, the rain started. Just sprinkles at first, but quickly it was a steady rain. I stopped and put on my raincoat. 

I was staying mostly dry except my face, but I was cold and ready for a break, so when I had the opportunity to stop at a spot in the road called Catawba at a convenience store just 23 miles in, I did. 

A snack, drink and about 20 minutes of break made me think I was ready to hit the road again. When I went outside, I found that the rain had picked up. It was just about to the pouring stage. Oh well. Part of the gig I guess. 

So I set out again with 18 miles to go to the next town, Daleville. I wasn’t very far down the road, maybe 2 miles, when I started feeling the moisture coming through my gloves. I hadn’t tested them in heavy rain, but I had hoped for better. Shortly after, my pants, which have legs that zip off at the knees, started leaking through said zippers. 

I’ve said before that I can handle wet, and I can handle cold, but put them together and I’m out. I was at that point. Those 18 miles to Daleville were miserable. The last couple miles, I’m pretty sure there was a little bit of sleet mixed in. 

With wet hands and wet from the knees down, I decided to call it a day. I was unhappy that I didn’t make it to Lexington as planned, but it’s not worth being that miserable. 

I checked in the Super 8, showered and chilled out the rest of the day waiting for game 7 of the world series! What a game it was! Cards are world champions!

Stats:
Mileage-41.05
Total-4217.16
Trip time-3:02
Avg speed-13.48
Max speed-37.01
Climb-2560

Keep pedaling

I guess I was tired. After going to bed early, I slept in late and didn’t hit the road until 10:10.  Even still, with all that rest and a pretty good tailwind, when I came to a hill, I just didn’t have any gas today. I did make good time on the downhills though. 

Just 10 miles in, it was 10:45 and I wanted a break. My choices at that point were a gas station or Burger King. I went with the burger. 

Back on the road, it was more of the same. Hills, tailwinds and my lack of strength. 

I rode into Radford and stopped for a snack at a convenience store. I ended up sitting around outside for a half hour or better resting.

The next town was Christianburg, which was a highlight of the day. Christianburg marks the end of map 11 and the beginning of map 12! I’m now on the last map! 

Coming out of Christianburg, I had a great downhill for a few miles of winding road. Lots of fun. But when the road turned uphill again, I was dead. Looking at my options, I decided to take a 4 mile detour to Blacksburg and find a place to stay. It was just getting too late in the day and I still had 42 miles to my next possible stopping point. 

So here I sit in Blacksburg, wondering if I shouldn’t have slept in this morning. Then I might have been able to go on to Daleville like I had planned. Who knows. I do know that I plan on an early start tomorrow. Just keep pedaling. 

Stats:
Mileage-62.92
Total-4176.11
Trip time-4:01
Avg speed-15.63
Max speed-43.63
Climb-4343

Damascus and Mt Rogers

I knew today was going to be a big day and it didn’t waste any time getting started. 150′ of climb directly out the door in the first .3 mile. That’s ok. I don’t ever worry about warming up anyway!

The mountain views were spectacular right away as well and didn’t let up all day. I would love to do some hiking here!

The climb up Clinch mountain came along fairly quick and although it was pretty, it was pretty steep too. When I reached the top, I was only 11.92 miles into my day and already had 1745′ of climbing. Just keep pedaling. 

Down the other side and into the valley to Hayters Gap, pronounced highters. The descent was cold and scenic. 

Back up to Meadowview and a rest stop at a gas station. I had one of my great snacks. A blueberry and cream cheese danish, a snickers, a package of grandmas oatmeal cookies and a 20 oz MT dew. That adds up to a 1350 calorie snack. Not bad. 

On down the road to Damascus, which had been my intended stop for yesterday. I stopped by a LBS, then went next door to Quincey’s Pizza, which I has been told had great pizza. It was ok. A nice break and a hot meal are always good. 

As I left Damascus, I saw on my map and along the road the Virginia Creeper Trail, a rails-to-trails project with rock and cinder surface. I was the only bike on the road and I’m certain I saw 100 bikes on the trail in about a mile, but they were all mountain bikes. I was afraid of my road tires on that surface and elected to stay on the road. 

The map said that the trail could be an alternate for 11 miles, and when I saw a parking lot and entrance to get on the trail about 3 miles out of town, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to go for it. 

That trail is magnificent and I hope if you are ever in the area you will check it out. There are several companies in Damascus that rent bikes if you need one. The trail wound along a mountain stream at a nice easy grade. Absolutely beautiful. I didn’t get many pics because I was keeping an eagle eye out on the trail trying to save my tires.

 It didn’t work. Had a flat about 2 miles along. Not too big a deal though. The remaining 5 or so miles were uneventful and just as beautiful.

Back on the road, I was climbing up a valley along Mt Rogers, the tallest peak in Virginia. Nothing too steep, just a nice steady grade up to my highest point got the day. That was what I had been waiting for! 

The remaining 35 miles or so was more or less going downhill. I still had several climbs, but the general inclination was down. A nice reprieve. Overall, I had more climbing today than any other day on the trip. Not much more, but a little. It’s been a rough few days here in Appalachia. 

I rolled into Wytheville (pronounced with-ville) just a little before dark, checked in to a motel and then with the wife, then walk across the lot to Sagebrush Steakhouse. It had been quite awhile since I had eaten a good meal. 14oz ribeye with baked potato, a big bowl of pasta Alfredo, cheddar biscuits and lots of lemonade made me full and happy. With no world series tonight due to rain out, I watched a little tv and fell asleep early. A great day. 

Stats:
Mileage-102.36
Total-4113.19
Trip time-6:59
Avg speed-14.64
Max speed-40.02
Climb-7019

Getting beat up in the mountains

When I left Elk Horn City this morning, there wasn’t any getting warmed up. Straight to work climbing. I had over 1200′ in the first 10 miles. Within that 10, I crossed into Virginia. I’m now in my last state!

I stopped at Breaks Interstate Park, which is part in Kentucky and part in Virginia. Beautiful views there. My reason for stopping was it said on the map that the state of Virginia likes for all cyclists to stop and sign their log so they know how many cyclists cross the state and then can use those numbers to allocate funding for cyclist specific improvements. Whatever. I signed in, just about had to hit the park ranger in the head to get away from him and then got back to the road.

Today was more of the same from the last couple days. Very small and mostly poor communities nestled here and there in the mountains. It’s a backward way of life that they lead really.

I stopped in Haysi for lunch at a gas station that had a Subway. After eating, I hit the road again, but before I left town, I missed a turn but didn’t realize it. The road I stayed on led out of town along a river and came to a dead end two miles out. Good for me. Otherwise I might not have caught my mistake! I turned around, retraced my “steps” and got back on track. Just a 4 mile detour.

Back on course, I kept slugging along. My legs were just beat all day. Hard to keep a good pace and the climbing seemed to be relentless. No sooner would I have a downhill and I was back to climbing again.

After what ended up being my biggest climb of the day, Big A mountain, I was beat. I rolled into Honaker questioning what I was going to be able to do the rest of the day. I checked the map and saw that I had 40 miles left to Damascus and in that, I had 2 pretty good climbs, then one big one and then 3 more pretty good ones. I decided to see what I could do with it. Not much choice as there was nowhere to stay there anyway.

Right outside town I hit the first climb and realized my situation. I was spent. I could carry on to Damascus, but I would be very late getting there. Way after dark. So I decided to cut my losses and find a place to stay. 7 miles south of the route was Lebanon with a couple motels. So off I went.

I ended up getting the last room at the Super 8. Evidently this place is full of guys doing fiber optic cable work. I ordered delivery from a local pizza joint and chilled in the room all evening. Tired and sore, but looking to the end that is coming soon.

Not only did I make it into the last state on my trip today, I also broke  the 4000 mile barrier. Just about a week and I’ll be finished!

Stats:
Mileage-64.70
Total-4010.83
Trip time-5:10
Avg speed-12.49
Max speed-46.34
Climb-5733

Almost finished with Kentucky

This morning I was up at 8 and after taking a little too long to get going, out the door at 9:30. After asking the girl at the front desk last night about traffic on my route, I was pretty worked up and worried. 

My maps showed that I was to be on 80 for 7 miles then turn onto back roads from there. The front desk girl said if it was her, she would ride 80 the whole way to Elk Horn City (EHC) and that the back roads would be a good place to get killed by a coal truck. 

So I set out on 80. It’s a 4 lane state highway with shoulders. The traffic was absolutely insane. 70 mph and nobody even trying to get over even when there was nobody in the left lane. I even had a coal truck come over onto the shoulder right by me. I think it might have been on purpose, but I’ll never know. I was so glad to get off that highway. 

The back roads, although crooked, hilly and no shoulders, had very little traffic and what traffic they did have, got over and gave me room. Much better. 

After having asked locals for their ideas on routes several times now, I’ve decided to not do that anymore. Trust the map. It’s made by cyclists for cyclists and has been tried and tested repeatedly for 35 years. Trust the map. 

I wanted to stay moving today, as I was not real sure what the hills would be like and I wanted to have plenty of time to get to EHC. I really only took 3 breaks today, all at gas stations. Just quick food and back on the road. 

Most of the first half of the day was quite easy actually. A couple hills, but mostly winding roads along creeks and rivers. Great riding!

The second half had many more hills and the hills continue to get bigger and steeper as I go east. I thought one hill late this afternoon was going to get me. Long and extremely steep. I wish I knew what the grade of that one was. It wasn’t too bad at the bottom, but it had to have been close to 20% for about a half mile toward the top. 

About 3 miles outside EHC, I came around a corner and could see it pouring up ahead. I stopped to put on my rain gear, but it got to me before I could get suited up. Those last 3 miles were very cold and extremely wet. Downpour. 

I checked into the only motel in EHC, the John Moore Motel. It’s old, but not buggy. Seems to be kinda clean. Most important thing is they have cable so I can watch the game!

I don’t feel like getting into it now, but in the near future I want to discuss a couple of issues I have with Eastern Kentucky. Stay tuned!

Stats:
Mileage-86.49
Total-3946.13
Trip time-5:55
Avg speed-14.59
Max speed-46.34
Climb-5321

Into the Appalachians

After staying up entirely too late watching the baseball game and seeing the forecasted low of 35, I decided to sleep in a bit and let it warm up. Up at 9:00, breakfast, gather everything and prepare for the day. Out the door right at 10:00. 

Berea is quite the neat little city. Beautiful actually. I think it would be great to come back and visit. Riding out of town along the rolling countryside was very relaxing and afforded nice views. 

Just 7 miles into the day and I found the first real hill marking the start of the Appalachians. The climb got me warmed up nicely and I stopped at the top to shed my jacket and long pants. The temperature was climbing as well and had reached the upper 50’s. 

The more difficult climbs continued to come around every so often. It’s a nice change from the rolling hills and let’s me know I’m getting closer to the end! 

I stopped in Booneville for lunch at a little dinner. Cheeseburger and fries did the trick. After that the waitress asked if I cared for anything else. I asked what they had for dessert. Along with an assortment of pies and cakes, there was banana split cake, which I chose. There was also “better than love cake” as she said. I almost lost it, but managed to keep my cool. It’s amazing the difference in moral view here. It’s so much more conservative, which is refreshing. 

After lunch it was back to the road. I was concerned that my late start might put me in a bind on daylight so I wanted to stay moving. More and larger hills kept coming and the views got better and better. I’m really looking forward to the next few days as I reach the real mountains!

Come to find out, my time concerns were not warranted. I had plenty enough time to stop in Chavais for a break and a snack and talked to a local for a good 30 minutes. Then rolled on down the road to Hazard where I checked into the Super 8 and had Taco Bell for dinner. 

What a day. Almost 100 miles and almost 7000′ of climb. Basically today matched my hardest day of the trip, which had been from Houston, MO to Johnson Shut-Ins. Probably going to be more of the same over the next two days as well. 

One of the best things about today was the stroke of luck to be where I am when I am. Today I rode right through the heart of some big coal mining areas and on some really crooked roads with no shoulders. Any other day of the week they would be teaming with semis hauling coal as well. Being Sunday, I saw not a truck one. According to the guy in Chavais, the farther east I go from Hazard tomorrow, the farther away from the mines I will get. I know there are other areas I will have to watch for, but it was nice to be able to skip a day of stress. 

Oh, I forgot to mention yesterday that reaching Berea put me at the end of map 10. Starting map 11 today means there is only one more to go after this! 

Stats:
Mileage-95.72
Total-3859.64
Trip time-6:24
Avg speed-14.94
Max speed-47.54
Climb-6958