Booneville to Berea: 81 kms
Total distance so far: 1239 kms
Another day, another ride, this time in boiling hot sunshine and a mere 80 kilometers.
Ami did her usual gymnastics in the morning by wrestling with our inflatable mattress so we could get it into its pouch.
As we hit the road we cycled alongside Lucas, a really nice guy who stayed in the same church hall as us, and is on his way to Boulder, Colorado. He was so kind as to have a look at Ami’s bike the night before, lube her gears and fix the puncture that would have taken us at least 45 minutes to do but seemed to take 45 seconds for him.
He is a semi pro serious cyclist and a bike mechanic to boot, so it was fun talking to him and he seemed at least semi serious when he complimented us on our speed, which I have to admit isn’t bad for a couple of middle aged amateurs.
I even managed to burn him on a couple of climbs which was a feather in my cap but should perhaps be qualified by adding that he was lugging a 30 kilo trailer behind his bike at the time.
We were heading towards a welcome free day in the town of Berea and above all a hotel room with real sheets and no inflatable mattress. Berea also represents the end of the Appalachian mountains and some, theoretically anyway, easier rides in the next few days.
The first few kilometres were notable for the dogs. We had a theory that the reason we didn’t get attacked by any the day before was that the rain kept them inside and that was strengthened by the appearance of quite a few now when the sun was shining.
I was armed with a whistle in my mouth and some dog repellent spray but we found that the best way of avoiding trouble in most cases was just to go slowly. Many of these animals have no sense of self preservation and could easily just throw themselves in front of you if you pedalled at full tilt, killing themselves in the process but, more importantly, seriously injuring your good self.
They are a total pain in the arse.
For once we were quite happy to leave the small country roads and hit the more heavily trafficked ones, figuring that no one in their right mind would leave their dogs unleashed if they risked getting maimed by coal trucks and four wheel drive pick ups.
Within half an hour however two mutts ran out to us again as we rode past, just managing to dodge us and the cars around us.
They say that this happens less and less the further west we go and that Kentucky is the worst culprit and I hope it is true for you can never totally relax as it is right now. As soon as you hear the sound of barking you are on your guard and ready to take evasive action.
On our rest day we split up. Not literally I hasten to add but just for the day.
I went to Richmond, Kentucky with a few from the group as there is a cycle shop there and Ami’s bike needed a few small modifications made on it.
I ended up having a very interesting conversation with Jay from the shop who turned out to be an enlightened and proud Kentuckian (if that is a word) and who showed himself to be a very good source of information about the religions, politics, history, linguistics and race relations in the area.
I also ate a scrummy pastry, captured here for all eternity by group colleague, tandem cyclist and all round lovely person, Zoe.
Ami checked out Berea’s cafés and art scene and had a few well deserved hours for herself.
We are now sitting up in bed and looking forward to one last night of sleep in a real crib before reality strikes again tomorrow.
À bien tot