June 18, 2006
Somehow I logged 27 miles today, but in reality it was a day off spent in and around Louisville.
I spotted a loaded touring bike sitting outside a Hardee’s restaurant this morning, and went inside to meet the owner. There I met Natsuki Takayama, a young man from Japan. His English was broken and difficult at times to understand, but I gathered that he’d started riding west from Los Angeles and is headed to New Brunswick, Canada. When I asked him about the wind and such in Kansas, he didn’t hesitate to use the finest American curse words! “F__k Kansas!” he said. Great.
As always, it was fun to meet another touring cyclist, and especially uncanny in this case, because we weren’t on any particular Adventure Cycling route. It’s a nice meeting because you automatically have so much in common and immediately start talking shop – “Did you get caught out in that storm last night? Don’t you hate that black smoke from old cars and dump trucks? Route 620 has a little traffic, but there’s a nice wide shoulder. Look out for the dog up ahead! etc.”
He seemed really happy to talk – I got the impression that most folks don’t go to the trouble of understanding his English long enough to hold a conversation. I have it easy compared to him. Imagine if I were riding solo across China, for example, trying to communicate in Chinese.
I spent most of my Sunday afternoon at the Churchill Downs, the annual site of the Kentucky Derby. I’d never in my life been to a live horse race, so I had a great time. Before each race, they would walk the horses around this little area outside the track so you could get a look at them, while a guy on a microphone made comments about the history of each horse. There’d be a trumpet call, and the jockeys would ride them out to the track. The race would start at the gun, and there’d be those fleeting moments of excitement as the commentator would rattle off the play by play, as only horse racing commentators(And auctioneers) can, and the crowd noise would rise when the leaders would come around the bend onto the final stretch. It would all be over in an instant, and the crowd would turn inside to collect, or place a bet for the next race. There was a race about once every half hour.
I didn’t place any bets because I wouldn’t have known what I was doing, but just being there and absorbing the atmosphere was enough. It was a cloudy day with occasional rain, so I had the opportunity to get right up next to the track and shoot some great pictures.
The rain starting coming down harder, so I picked up my bike from inside the garage behind the security guard’s office – where they were holding it for me – and headed out. I checked into a room for the night. When the rain stopped I ventured back out into the city to find the Louisville Slugger museum. They had a huge baseball bat that was at least six stories high!
Happy Father’s Day.