I had a great time last night hanging out at the campsite in Booneville. I woke up to a beautiful sunrise. I don’t know the last time I used the words “woke up” and “sunrise” in the same sentence.
Look at that landscape. Notice anything special? It’s very subtle, but if you look close enough you’ll notice that there are NO MOUNTAINS anywhere in this shot. Maybe a slight hill over there on the far left, but not a single 5,000 foot peak looming over our campsite. We all immediately noticed the change in landscape and we were happy knowing that our days of hour long 4mph climbs were behind us until Colorado.
Route leader Matt Brinckman made us breakfast! He drove to the store and got bacon, eggs, cheese, and bagels and got up early to cook us all food. It was great to once again have an alternative to oatmeal. Matt there in the green shirt has grown a handlebar mustache and adopted a southern accent for all of eastern Kentucky. Way to not break character, Matt.
Today was extra exciting because we get to start a new map. Here’s how cycling across America works: everyone that rides their bikes across the country pretty much takes the same route. There’s not a designated bike path or anything, it’s just a series of back country roads. We are on at least ten or so roads a day (so at least ten opportunities to get lost.) A company makes maps for us with printed directions that tell us where to turn and what amenities are at each town and the mileage from place to place. It takes 12 booklets of maps for us to get to San Francisco. We finished map set #1 after Blacksburg and finished our second set of maps yesterday. So today we start our new map set! It’s sort of exciting because we get to check out where we’re going and what sort of climbing and elevation we’re looking at.
We started out the day promptly getting lost. We went about 4 miles out of the way before we came across a loaded biker who was also lost. If we hadn’t come across him, I don’t think we would have ever realized we were off route and we would have continued forever. So we turned around, climbed more hills, and got back on track. Today ended up being short on mileage but nevertheless it seemed really long and annoying. It was steady climbing for most of the morning. Riding for three hours and only managing to go 35 miles is very demoralizing. On top of that it was about 100 degrees before noon. So it was hot and it turned out we weren’t out of the mountains yet. Great.
You can tell if I’m having a good or bad day by the amount and mood of pictures I take. I hardly took any pictures riding today and this was one of them. It’s an ugly picture of a dying town. And it looks hot.
The day got better when we started to take lots of breaks. Here’s Carmen, Bridget, and Liza chilling on the grass outside of a milkshake shack called the “Frosty-ette.” Bret and I split a chocolate shake. He takes pictures of all of his shakes and has some sort of rating scale for them. When the trip is done he wants to compile a coffee table book about milkshakes along the Transam. Interesting.
Berea ended up being a cool little town. It’s a college town although come to think of it I can’t tell you what college is here. They have a cute downtown area where I ate a lot of homemade lasagna and greasy breadsticks. It was a meal so unhealthy that I wouldn’t have ever ordered it a month ago. It’s great to be able to rationalize eating gross things nowadays.
I hung out at the pizza place alone for awhile and got some work done on their free wireless and Skype-talked to my boyfriend. We are camping behind a fire station in a field. It’s supposed to still be 80 degrees at 10pm. I have no idea how I’m going to be able to sleep in my tent. But apparently the firemen are letting us use their showers; there’s nothing better than getting all clean before crawling into your tent to start sweating again.