The first part of today was not my favorite. It was raining and for some reason we had to travel about 20 miles on a road I’d compare to I-64 back home. It is horrible to cycle on the side of a highway with traffic roaring past at 80 mph. I kept thinking, “If I die sometime on this trip, it’s going to be now.” It was frightening and I didn’t take any pictures except this one that shows the lovely view we had from the interstate of more mountaintop removal mining.
Our first stop was at Wal-Mart. You could see MORE mountaintop removal from the Wal-Mart; it was like ground zero for the destruction of America. Anyways, somehow Liza had never been to a Wal-Mart before and I had to snap a picture to document her first experience. We bought a lot more food which we barely managed to cram in the trailer. Popular choices are chicken in a can, Lipton Pasta Sides, and Pop-Tarts.
We continued down the 4-lane interstate until we finally took an exit ramp (!) to a smaller road. Between the trucks and my teammates who didn’t spring for fenders, I had gotten filthy. See? Dirt from the road kept flying in my mouth, it was absolutely disgusting. And I had to wear my muddy jersey the rest of the day and I don’t think I’ll have a chance to wash it until next week. Oh, life on the road.
Part of today’s elevation profile, noting which race of Middle Earth lives amongst such steep hills.
Some observations about eastern Kentucky:
- No one keeps their dogs on a leash or in the house, they roam around and chase cyclists for sport. I never had to touch my pepper spray though because I’m too nice and by the time I’d get to the dogs they were tired of chasing the 20 cyclists that passed before me.
- Everyone has lots of cars in various stages of disrepair in their yards. Not only cars but whole coal trucks. It’s like they collect old automobiles. This picture I took isn’t like a car lot or a shop or anything, it’s just some dudes yard.
- There seem to be no building codes or safety laws. Every single house is some sort of modified trailer. Some look like they were parked yesterday, others have porches and foundations. But every single residence was once a trailer. They are placed haphazardly; people seem to be living in other people’s backyards. Houses are 2 feet from busy streets. Everyone keeps chickens and roosters in their front yards. Pools don’t have fences around them. Motorcyclists don’t have to wear helmets. Everyone drives dirtbikes around for transportation despite the aforementioned abundance of cars and car parts.
- There is more trash on the sides of the road than I have ever seen in my entire life. I couldn’t bear to even take a picture. It was depressing.
- Local elections = wow. I guess every county in Kentucky is in the middle of heated elections for coveted positions such as magistrate, sheriff, jailer, and coroner. Yes, the coroner is apparently an elected position. We saw a million election signs; I didn’t take any pictures but I swear to you these are the actual names of some candidates running: Buddy Boy, Hard Rock, Snoopy, Chick, Billy Ray, and of course, Bubba. A lot of them had pictures on their signs that looked like they were cropped mug shots. And probably were.
So those were all fun observations we made whilst riding in rural Kentucky. Live I’ve said before, when you’re on a bike, you sort of have to make up little games to keep your mind occupied.
On another note, if you live in America you may have noticed that recently it has been HOT. I mean brutally hot. The heat doesn’t bother me too much usually, but when you’re out on asphalt doing 5,000 feet of climbing a day, it gets unbearable. I feel like I’m a dog; I’m literally panting for six hours straight. We love AC and stopped today to watch the USA-England World Cup game at a nice air conditioned gas station with a TV. I can’t say any of us cared too much about the game but boy was it nice to get out of the heat for two hours.
After what seemed like a really long 65 mile ride, we finally made it into camp behind a church in Booneville, Kentucky. It was actually really nice, there was a cold hose to rinse off/shower with and a big field to camp in.
I had a lot of fun in the afternoon sitting around and chatting with everyone. I got to use my new camp chair for the first time. As I type this it’s 10pm and probably still about 80 degrees outside. I have no idea how I’m going to be able to sleep in my tent tonight, I think I’d be better off just passing out in the damp grass.