June 13, 2006
I woke up a little before 9am. I wasn’t exactly staying at a Holiday Inn Express, but they had a quality continental breakfast… considering that it was a private motel. I had some OJ, cheerios, toast, a muffin, and oatmeal.
I packed up, checked out, and spotted a guy at the Taco Bell taking out the trash. I asked him if he had any extra boxes and I got one – just the perfect size. I then rode a few miles through town to the post office with the empty box over my handlebars – it must have been a sight to see. I sent home some stuff, including some extra clothes, an empty bottle of Ale-8-One, the most recent map section, my copy of Don Quixote(Which I’ve been carrying the whole way from Outer Banks and haven’t gotten past the prologue), and half a tube of sunscreen.
That reminds me of two things. One – when I had breakfast a few days ago, I heard that “sunscreen” song they play on the radio this time of year (Around all the graduations), “To the class of ____.”
Two – On TV in these parts they’re having the commercials with all the high school graduates listing their names with sentimental music – haven’t seen those in my hometown for years. Of course, maybe that’s because I haven’t had TV for years.
It was almost noon by the time I got done at the Post Office, so I had some lunch before heading out of town – three double cheeseburgers and a coke from McDonalds. Surprisingly, my energy was high and I felt great all day long… that’s the second time that McDonalds has given me a boost! …really?
Well today I think the landscape has finally come clear of the mountains and leveled off for good – as far as the Appalachians are concerned. Oh yeah baby. The riding was great along roads with beautiful farmland, and big old picturesque sprawling trees.
I was thinking about how my planning for this trip was all wrong. Those of you who are planning a long bicycle tour, listen up now. What I should have done was got a job at Wal-Mart, and bought all my gear there – head to toe, wheel to wheel. Then they would sponsor me, and my trip would be fully equipped and enabled by Walmart… I bet they’d even make me a cycling jersey that looks like those blue aprons… how can I help you? and I could camp at Walmarts… and get easy replacement parts… and all the corporate partners would hook me up and bow to the authority of The Wal-Mart Rider. Maybe they’d even put me in commercials, and girls across the nation would say, “Hey, you’re that guy on TV!” and instantly throw their underpants at me.
This journal would read, “Damascus, VA: Pretty little town, nice little mom and pop shops, nice little cafe, nice little bike shop, nice little outfitter… what this place needs is a WAL-MART!”
Well you heard it here first. It’s too late for me, but if anybody would like to try this, just send me a thank you note for the idea. Embrace the power of the Wal-Mart.
Anyway I rolled into this town called Harrodsburg for the night. Harrodsburg is the location of the first permanent white settlement west of the Alleghenies, in 1774. They had a cool state park with an old fort and an awesome huge tree where I planned to stay the night. I looked around town and took some pictures and stuff… and soon realized that I made a grave error – this was not the town with free camping in the park! The town with free camping was Springfield, 25 miles west of here.
So now it’s 7:30 and my only option for a place to stay overnight is a couple of motels, but I just stayed in a motel last night! I don’t have the budget for that. I’m about to pry open the creaky ol’ wallet for a room anyway when a light bulb goes off over my head. Hmmm… 25 miles. I feel great… the terrain has been easier… the days are long…
I down two cans of Mountain Dew and go for it.
Now let’s see, I remember seeing on the weather channel that the sun sets at 9pm. It’s 7:30 when I leave Harrodsburg. At my normal average pace of 10mph I would not get into Springfield until 10 o’clock. No good. I’ll have to haul ass. I tuck in low, grip the drop bars, and start cranking the big gears.
Racing the sinking sun, my breathing falls into a good rhythm. Not the breathless-heart-pounding-come-on-when-am-I-ever-gonna-get-to-the-top-of-this-hill exertion of climbing a mountain on a hot day, but nice and steady. I can maintain this. Good. I don’t feel like a loaded touring rider – I’m cruising.
I have the whole country road to myself on this fine Kentucky evening. The sun shines in my face as I speed west. Yes, I’m riding into the sunset. A little boy holding a yellow Whiffle ball bat in his green yard with Mom and Dad waves at me as I pass. “Hi! Hi!”
Dusk fades into night.
I pull into Springfield at 9:30. I just made it – there’s little daylight to spare. I ride a few extra miles around town getting spaghetti and Ragu sauce at the gas station, checking in at the police station for permission to camp, and finding the town park.
POW! Just like that, I turned a 60 mile day into 89 miles. I’m psyched. Now as I cook my dinner and do this journal, I turn on my radio. The dial is at the same position I heard the classic rock on in Booneville, and now it’s an oldies station! They played California Dreamin, some Jefferson Airplane, Penny Lane, Crimson + Clover, Jackson Browne – Doctor My Eyes, CCR Lookin’ out my Back Door… good stuff. Tonight I’m sleeping on a picnic table. No chaffing today. Life is good.
View Larger Map
Google Map Route may not be 100% accurate.