Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 27 Serpentine Route through Kentucky Sanders – Stanton, KY 107 miles

I thought today was going to be a tough one, and it was. Not a yard of the route was flat. Hills and more hills slowed me considerably and ate up the daylight too quickly. A northeast headwind plastered me all day. I felt like I was on the beach in winter. However, it was cool and dry. Overnight I shivered the hours away in my tent and was happy to bike in long pants and a jacket for the first hours of the day. Autumn beckons.

The scenery today was pleasant. I passed many small farms in the first part of the day. The hills made me stop frequently to pet horses and goats. As the sun rose I spotted several deer, and heard herons, kingfishers, and coyotes. In the middle of the day I entered horse racing country around Lexington. It reminded me of the area I grow up in around Chester County, Pennsylvania. There were many well manicured farms with giant stately horses apparently well fed; none would take my meager offering of roadside grass when I stopped occasionally to look at the Kentucky map. The terrain around Lexington would make a great extended roller coaster ride.

The hills of the eastern United States have kind of crept up on me. So much toil was spent on the Rockies. Then there was the mental grind of pedaling through the corn belt. That is over. I shifted gears like a madman today. Tomorrow will be more of the same and maybe worse as I go up into the Appalachian hills of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia. My quads have already forgotten about their two day break this past weekend.

What helps on massive challenges like some mountain gaps I will ascend over the next 48 hours is zero distractions. A bicycle, especially one with a loaded machine, has apparently been such a spectacle for some Kentucky folks that they cannot help but say something when driving by. The roads are narrow and the traffic has been heavy. Ideally this will change over these tough passes so I can focus on the difficulties ahead. Ideally it would be just the sound of me and the machine reaching for the divide and pushing towards the ocean.

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