During the night, I heard Michela and Stefano get up and leave. I went back to sleep. When Luke got up, I figured I better get going. My alarm went off about that time and I gathered my things. I stumbled sleepy eyed with my bike, back over to the gas station for some breakfast and then hit the road by 5:45.
I was still wet from the rain the day before and the humid air clung to everything like glue. My cycling gloves and bar wraps were soaked. Everything I had was wet, but also had a certain slimy quality to it. It was a mix of rain, sweat and who knows what else. I just felt gross.
Although Luke had gotten out ahead of me, right away I caught him and kept moving along. I was on a mission to have back to back decent days. I didn’t need to be epic at this point. Just decent. I could deal with that. The key to a decent day was to stay moving!
I rolled into Sonora and stopped at a truck stop next to I-65. I grabbed some grub and rolled on. Stay moving. Just down the road I found another discrepancy between the GPS and the signed route. I chose the signs and made the determination that I would follow the signs when in doubt.
Further on, I made a quick station stop in Buffalo, but I didn’t stay long at all. I just bought some drinks and snacks, then hit the road. Stay moving!
Not far ahead, I caught up with Michela and Stefano. Then I headed into the hills that surround Howardstown. Howardstown is one of my favorite places on the route in Kentucky. The Rolling Fork River valley meanders through the Appalachian foothills and creates a beautiful setting of farmland surrounded by steep little forested knobs. My wife and I have driven through the area in autumn and it is even more stunning with the fall colors. I carried on, staying moving and enjoying the scenery. It was a beautiful day.
As I came into Bardstown, I passed Pierangelo Rivoira, another Italian racer. His name was a mouthful for me and I was glad when I found out he goes by Piero. That was much easier! I went on ahead into town and stopped at a McDonald’s right on the route. It was 10:00AM and I was almost 70 miles into my day. Not bad. Just stay moving! I made quick work of a Big Breakfast and some apple pies, then hit the road again.
I saw Piero again as I rode out of Bardstown. I said a quick hello and carried on. The rural rolling hills of Kentucky sprawled out in front of me. Thirty miles or so ahead I stopped at the Rosehill Food Basket, a little country convenience store. I ate something and stored things up for the ride ahead. I had put that stop on my original plan to keep me out of Harrodsburg that was just another few miles down the road. As Mike Hall says, pick where you won’t stop.
When I got to Harrodsburg, I rolled straight through town. It was then on ahead to the burg of Burgin (see what I did there???? :)). As I left Burgin, I saw Jason and George up ahead. Seeing them ahead lit a competitive fire in me and I poured the coals to it. Down in the aero bars, I hit it hard and caught them. We rode near each other, chatting for just a bit and I then went on ahead.
Just down the road, I went through the outskirts of Bryanstville, where I stopped at a gas station. I kept it short, but needed to supply up. Jason and George didn’t stop and I once again caught them as I left town. This time I didn’t hang out at all. I was feeling a bit frustrated that they were riding with each other and proceeded to take that frustration out on myself by hammering ahead. I stayed down on the bars and rolled along at a good clip for a long time.
When I came into Kirksville, I saw something that made me stop. There is a little gas station there that is run by an old farming couple. They have had the store for decades and I got the opportunity to sit and chat with the old man in 2011 when I came through touring. He was a kind old soul who told me stories of cyclists coming through, riding the Trans Am from all over the world. He had met so many interesting people and was happy to say that he had the chance to help them in some way. When I saw that the store was still open, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see if he was there. Sadly, he wasn’t, but his wife was! She said that he was out bailing hay. I told here that I remembered him fondly and to please tell him I said hello. I was certain he wouldn’t remember me, but I wanted him to know that I was thinking of him. She said she would and I rode on, happy that I had made that connection from 5 years earlier.
From Kirksville, it was about 10 miles of rollers to the northwestern outskirts of Berea. I remembered from 2011 that if I passed up the services there as I came into town, I would have to travel off route a couple miles to find anything. The first thing I saw was a gas station with a Subway. Perfect. I went in and ordered a big sub, chips, drink and cookies.
As I sat and ate, George and Jason came in. They were on a mission to put more miles down and asked what my plans were. It was only 5:15PM, but I had 153 miles on the day and was sick of being soaked. With the humidity, I had never dried out all day long. I planned to go across the street to a hotel and get cleaned up. We all ate, they went on down the road, I went next door to the gas station and then to the Red Roof Inn across the street. I washed and dried my clothes, got a shower and slept. It was much more comfortable than a soaked bivy in a defunct car wash. Much more.