Just a note…. I am trying to at least write my blog at the end of every day. This usually means taking my computer into my tent with me and then trying to find the internet to upload it sometime the next day or night. So I’m posting these to the internet at least a day after I write them. Sometime I can’t find the internet the next day or I am too tired at night to finish typing so it takes a couple of days for you to see my posts. I don’t know if the internet situation will get better or worse as I head out into the Midwest. Thanks for bearing with me and keep reading!
As my fellow cyclist Rose would say, last night was a hoot. I was hanging out in our tent city with my new friend Pepper and we noticed some lightning in the distance. Being from the beach, I figured it was ‘heat lightning.’ Come to find out some people from other parts of the country don’t know what heat lightning is and I guess I’m not sure about its mechanics either. Everywhere else lightning is indicative of a storm coming. Duh. So it started to rain really hard and I ran into my tiny tent and zipped up real quick. This was its first real test. Is this tent really waterproof? A better question would be: did I set it up correctly so that it’s waterproof? It was raining ridiculously hard. It drops were so loud as the bounced off my tent that I couldn’t think. I was just laying there with nothing to do but worry about whether or not I was about to get soaking wet in my sleeping bag. I finally fell asleep only to be woken up at 1am to a ridiculous wind. My whole tent was flapping around something crazy and it scared the hell out of me. I honestly thought there was a tornado outside and that I was going to get picked up by it while still in my tent and slammed into a tree or something. To make things even better, the fire trucks started to leave the station (we were sleeping 20 feet from the fire house) with their sirens blaring. I was honestly frightened a little but it made me feel better to get tweets on my phone from Bridget who was also cowering in fear in her tent.
I woke up to find that my sleeping bag was only slightly damp and that the wind had pulled two of my tent stakes straight out of the ground. I was lucky compared to some of my friends; their rainflys had flown off, they were soaking wet, they were miserable. Ben King gave up and slept curled up on the floor of our stinky, hot trailer. And it was his birthday! None of us got a lot of sleep and today was our BIG DAY. Our first century, a 100 mile ride. It’s sort of like the marathon of cycling and here we are just haphazardly doing it in triple digit heat. It was going to be a feat.
For the first time ever, the girls woke up early before everyone else and miraculously left camp at 7am. Of course we had to stop at McDonald’s for a half hour, but the point is that we succeeded in leaving the actual camp before anyone else. Some background information: we are pretty much always the last to leave the camp, rest stops, restaurants, the shade of trees, etc. We like to dilly dally and take our time, whereas some people like to leave at 5am and race the whole day. If you know me then you know that’s not my style. Slow and steady wins the race.
We cruised through some rolling hills and managed to pound out a lot of miles before it started to get really hot around 10am. It stormed on us which would normally be annoying but it was a welcome break from the heat. After being drenched in sweat, being drenched in rain is actually pleasant.
We spent the entire day riding our bikes. We knew that it was going to take us about 7 or 8 hours to ride 100 miles, so we kept our stops to a minimum and hit the pavement hard. Today was the first day that there were really no climbs that took longer than ten or fifteen minutes. A lot of it was rolling hills that you have to bomb down super fast to try to get up the other side with minimal effort. It’s pretty fun to see how fast you can go. Today was also the first time I actually felt strong. I feel like these past two weeks have been hill repeat training and now we actually get to go out and ride bikes. It’s more fun to ride now that I see that I’m getting good at it.
Fun story: Bridget and I got lost. Well, we knew where we were, but it was really far off the route from where we were supposed to be. This was particularly marvelous today of all days. The last thing we wanted to do was add more miles onto our day. Luckily, we ran into Kirk. Kirk has my exact same bike and even has the same color scheme. As you can see, he’s a fully loaded tourist who is going from Yorktown to the coast of Oregon. His bike weighs about 100 pounds and he rides in cargo shorts, a cotton t-shirt, and sandals with socks. He also has bright white hair and is probably sixty years old. He later told us that at work when his co-workers asked him what he would do if he got laid off, he would tell them he was going to bike across America. Then in February he got laid off and here he is. And good thing we caught up with him exactly when we did. He led us to another road (by way of Wendy’s for frosties, of course) that got us all the way to our final destination of Bardstown in the same time it would have taken us if we hadn’t gotten lost. We actually did less miles than everyone else! I clocked in for the day at 95. Just missed it. You see, taking back country roads is more scenic and safer but not usually quicker.
We finally made it! As soon as we rolled into camp Don was there to meet us with as much free pizza as we could eat. Someone snagged some cold beers as well to make it the perfect end to our long day. The state park we are staying in seems pretty laid back and nice. We usually camp in the backyards of buildings and churches instead of actually in campgrounds that have bathroom buildings and such.
After we had showered and eaten a lot of pizza, some of us rode into cute downtown Bardstown to sample some of the local fare. And by that I mean bourbon. We passed signs for the Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam distilleries as well as some smaller bottlers on the way into town which made us want to try some famed Kentucky Bourbon. Did you know that 90% of all bourbon is made in Kentucky? Kentucky does. So six or so of us rode our bikes to a place called The Tavern which was built in 1790. We each ordered one expensive bourbon shot on the rocks, said a cheers, and sat and talked about bikes and our century ride. Doing a trip like this is great because you get a feasible sense of accomplishment every single day. You can feel proud of yourself for doing something and getting somewhere. I think I get sort of depressed every winter because I just sit inside and do nothing. I go to work and pour drinks, but the satisfaction I get from making 500 long island iced teas in 5 hours doesn’t even come close to this. It’s great to push yourself everyday and succeed. And like I said earlier, it’s great to feel myself actually getting stronger and being able to do hills faster and ride the flats harder. Even if I’m still slower than everyone else. One day you’ll read this blog and I’ll say that I was the first to ride into camp that day. One day I’ll stop complaining about how much my butt hurts. Oh, to dream.