Good news: it hardly rained last night! I think it sprinkled a little but I left my rain fly half unzipped because it was so hot. The minimum temperature around here at night is literally 80 degrees. I don’t mind the heat and so far I haven’t had any problems sleeping in it but it’s a constant topic of conversation amongst us.
I think we each say “it’s hot” about twenty times a day. Whenever we go in a store or something every looks at us really funny and asks us why we’re riding our bikes. “Don’t you guys know it’s hot?” Yes, we know it’s hot. We just have these bikes and we sort of have to keep riding them to get to the place where are food and sleeping bags are. The best is when people walk outside to their cars and complain about the heat for the entire 45 seconds it takes them to get across the parking lot and turn on their AC. Then they roll their windows down slightly to keep the AC from escaping and wish us luck. You can tell they are thinking “those people are idiots.” Sometimes I think we are. For instance, today my bike computer temperature gauge read 123 degrees. It was out in the sun so I doubt it was anywhere close to that hot, but man it FELT like it was. “How do you guys cool off in the heat?” “We try to ride fast enough to create a breeze.” “Uh, good luck, kids.” It’s pretty funny most of the time. I mean, I’m sure you all think it’s hot too and it does suck to be out in the heat, but when you have no alternative you just have to roll with it.
Look how beautiful and flat that landscape is. I think we have officially entered pretty Kentucky horse farm country and left the “backwoods West Virginia” portion of the state. I didn’t mind hick Kentucky much; it had a lot of character and the people were super interesting to talk to. But they were mountain people, and, unfortunately, I do not care for mountains very much. They’re fun to look at and live in but you know… the whole biking thing.
Anyways today was an easy, rolling hill 40 mile day. Our shortest mileage day of the whole trip. Pretty much a rest day to be honest. I never thought I’d think that biking 4o miles would be a ‘rest’, but alas. I was happy for the break because my saddle sores are killing me. We have so many lotions and potions to rub on our butts every morning it’s nuts. The thing we talk about as much as the heat is each other’s butt problems. Chafing, rashes, sores, bruises. Yeah, we’re all quickly all becoming close friends.
Not much to talk about today as far as a play-by-play of the day is concerned. We rode, we took little breaks, we made it to Hodgenville. Hodgenville is apparently the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. I learned something today, I always thought he was from Illinois. Some of the girls went to go visit his birthplace only to find that there was no house or anything, just a field where the house he was born in used to be. Enthralling. Alex described it the town as “the land Lincoln left behind.” This is the only place on the trip so far where multiple people have come up to us to ask us why in the world we picked their POS town to stay in. We tried to explain to them that it’s on our bike route, etc, but they remain perplexed. Actually, we love Hodgenville. There is more than one restaurant, a milkshake place, and a POOL. We finally got to go swimming! The public pool was 50 feet from our campsite and was totally worth the $2 each entry fee. Later there were several little league games going on and some of the team had a great time watching the kids play baseball and talking to the parents about our trip and our weird tan lines. Personally, I laid my sleeping pad out under a tree and took an hour long nap. We then got some malts at a cute old diner and I made an Asian Pasta Side + can of chicken for dinner. The TV at the diner was tracking a huge storm front and tornados a few counties over, so we talked to the rec center guy and he agreed to let us sleep in the gym for the night. Good thing I was too lazy to set up my tent earlier.
Quick note: Thank you to EVERYONE that reads and that has donated in my name. We are all having a great time but in the end we are riding to raise money and awareness for MS. We wear our jerseys proudly and spend a good portion of the day talking to strangers about our cause and handing out business cards. I’d say 90% of the random people I’ve met know someone close to them that has MS. I haven’t personally met a lot of you that have donated but I really appreciate it. My route leaders are so thrilled that my blog is bringing in more donations for MS that they raised my minimum to encourage more people to donate. As a team we’ve raised over $87,000! That’s so amazing. Seriously, thanks again. Multiple Sclerosis is such a strange disease, no one knows what causes it or how to prevent it. Other people that have biked across the country with no problems have developed MS overnight and a few years later can’t even walk or feed themselves. It could happen to anyone. I am thrilled that our money is going towards more research to figure out how to stop this disease from destroying the lives of so many previously healthy people.
The other day I stopped at a milkshake stand in a horribly poverty stricken area of eastern Kentucky. I got to talking with the lady who worked behind the counter and found out her husband has MS. He was diagnosed out of the blue at age 50 and now can’t work in the coal industry anymore. So she’s the sole breadwinner of the family and she probably makes minimum wage making milkshakes for people like me. What options are there for these people? It breaks my heart.