Days 40 & 41: You gotta try new things
The ripple effects of decisions we make. For most of this ride I have been staying in traditional hotels (ones I could find on Booking.com) I do not have a tent or sleeping pad. And do be honest, I have been reluctant to try a hostel, or sleep at a church. Hostels and churches are listed on the ACA maps, so I know where they are located. I should have been more adventurous with where I stayed sooner.
On Day 39, I took a chance on a state-owned historic hotel on the Ohio River and had an amazing experience. I loved hanging out on the porch at the Historic Rose Hotel and decided to stay longer the next morning to do just that. That decision forced me to reconsider my plans for the next day—with the only reasonable place to stay on Day 40, the Sebree, KY First Baptist Church Hostel. I decided it was time to give the hostel a shot.
What a great decision! I thought hostels thinking they might be more for young people and partying and would have less privacy. I was wrong. The FBC Hostel (also the church’s youth rec area) is at least 1000 square feet and includes so much stuff. A kitchen. Two private rooms. Five couches. Five cots. Shower. Washer/dryer. They offer it all up to cyclists. “Take anything you see in the kitchen.” They do this as “Part of our ministry.” I offer to donate to their ministry and they refuse to take anything. Matt (from the UK who I met yesterday in Elizabethtown) rolled in a couple of hours after I did, so we connected again. He was the only other guest.
Now my only regret is not staying at more churches and bike hostels along the way. At least I experienced this one. And it would not have happened if I had not enjoyed E-Town so much and stayed to “smell the roses“ there.
Day 41 was another rolling recovery day, just connecting two points on the map. I miss Chris and want to keep pushing forward, but I need to get ready for a few 100-mile, steep climbing days. So two days in a row at 65-70 miles just moves me along the trail.
I have not mentioned my recent entertainment. I listened to Ready Player Two. It was OK. I liked Ready Player One better and didn’t feel I needed this follow-on. I also listened to Sea of Tranquility which I do recommend. It’s a shorter Sci-fi novel. Finally, I have about an hour left in Two Wheels Good. Right as my ride started Sundar shared a review of this book before it published. I was waiting for some reader reviews to come in and my brother Mike sent a short blurb about it. The book is pretty good. A different treatment of the history of the bicycle. It bounces around a bit and doesn’t have a good central theme.
Day 40: 66 miles, 3533 elevation (at least 3-4 decent wheeees, though0 most were shorter)
This day of riding was supposed to be a kind of long “rolling recovery” ride. I planned to take it easier so that I would get some rest. Unfortunately, the steep hills in Illinois and then near the end of the ride in Kentucky made it a bit more challenging. They are getting me ready for the really steep hills in Eastern Kentucky. Note - I did not even hear a dog today.
Day 41: YY miles, YY elevation (No wheees today)
The downhills I am riding now are often short and curvy. I feel a bit stressed on them and don’t find myself yelling “Wheee” much. I started out early, leaving the hostel by 6:00. That was a good thing; it was cool in the morning but got very hot and muggy for the last hour of the ride. My Garmin got a bit whacky so I ended and then re-started it. Because Relive gets its data from the Garmin, I had to create two Relive videos to cover the day.
Deciding where and how far to ride each day
I wanted this trip to be somewhat free-form. If I had a tailwind, let’s get further down the road. If there was a rainstorm, maybe hold back or take a rest day. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but I really liked the idea that you take things as they come. As the second half of the trip has unfolded (the first half had pretty fixed itinerary), my decision-making process has become more clear. This mostly influences hotel reservations, which I have made same-day or sometimes 2-4 days in advance. Most of the riders I encounter decide where they will stay on a day-to-day basis, but they also have camping as a back-up and I do not. Well not really, I could sleep under stars in my emergency sleeping bag, but that is not my style.
A few criteria have emerged and I thought I might articulate them for the interested reader.
Weather. Wind and heat are the biggest influences on how far I go. There is a huge difference between riding into a 15 mph headwind and getting that as a tailwind. According to BikeCalculator.com for the same effort, I might average more than 15 mph faster! That seems a bit high for my experience, but I can imagine 8 mph. Averaging 12 mph for 6 hours vs. 20 mph for 6 hours is a difference of 72 miles vs. 120 miles. The heat also slows you down quite a bit. I can get around the heat a bit by starting early, but on long rides, you end up riding in the afternoon when it is hot. A third weather variable is rain, though we have not had much of it. Bottom line, I keep an eye on the weather a few days ahead.
My body. Several people I respect have told me to listen to my body. It will tell you when it needs more rest. As I have noted before, I like doing “rolling recovery” instead of complete rest days. I have not felt like I needed to rest since Pueblo and have now done about 14 straight days. Even my couple of rolling recovery days have been pretty tough (~60-70 miles).
My mind. Recently (Elizabethtown and seeing my friend Terry Clark) my mind told me to slow down a bit. Ride easier for a day or two. Don’t get up so early and feel like you need to crank out 90-110 miles. I listened.
My bike. A few times my riding plan has been influenced by the need for bike parts (inner tubes) or bike repairs. A couple of times that meant going off-route to find a bike shop.
The map. I am not camping. I am staying at hotels (maybe more hostels), so the map needs to show a place for me to stay—and it needs to have a vacancy. I might also want to ride 75 miles, but find hotels are only at 50 or 100 miles out. So far, I am finding it pretty easy to get hotels on short notice. I booked a couple of days ahead for the Fourth of July weekend, just in case. But even with those, I have the option of cancelling up to a day or two before. Part of the map is the miles, but it is also the terrain—and how much climbing I need to do.
Stories and pictures
I have a couple of stories to tell—and some photos of the First Baptist Church Cyclist Hostel. My stories are of a Kentucky pickup truck driver and a fellow cyclist. The last few days have been sort of quiet for meeting fellow cyclists. In fact, I have not seen only one west-bound cyclist in the last four days.
First, I want to share the story of a driver named Pam. Shortly after I got into Kentucky, this very safe-driving red pickup truck stayed behind me for a good 5-10 minutes. The driver could have passed me a few times on a double yellow center line but waited until they had the right of way. I gave a thank you wave and wished all drivers could be so considerate. I actually wanted to find out who the driver was and thank them in person.
About 5 miles down the road, I pulled off at a convenience store and this woman comes up to me and say “Thank you for dressing like you do.“ She loved my orange/red/yellow Poudre Sunrise Cyclist jersey (thank you Eric—I have worn that jersey almost exclusively for the last 10 days and will wear it until the end of the ride. “It is so much easier to see than those people wearing black or blue.” “And your flashing lights (I have two flashing red tail lights—one on my bike and one on my helmet) are so easy to see.“
I thanked her for being so careful around cyclists and asked if I could take her picture and share this story on my blog. She obliged. THANK YOU PAM—and all the many drivers who patiently wait behind a slow cyclist until it is safe to pass.
For the last couple of days, I have enjoyed Matt’s (from the UK) company. He rolled into the Historic Rose Hotel when I was enjoying a beer on the porch. We chatted briefly then and longer the following morning. We both stayed at the First Baptist Church Cyclist Hostel together. I ride earlier than Matt, so we don’t ride together, but we are on a similar riding plan for now. I have enjoyed his company.
I promised a few pictures of the First Baptist Church Cyclists Hostel.
It is very well marked and easy to find. You don’t even have to make a reservation. You roll up and there are phone numbers on the front door if no one is around. I called Pastor Dylan who lives right next door and gave me the tour.
I slept on one of the couches at the far end of this room. They do not supply blankets. I finally got to use my portable sleeping bag. My portable sleeping bag is the size of a 12 ounce can of soda and weighs less than my iPhone. But it kept me warm enough.
Look at that kitchen. I went out to eat but Matt cooked up his dinner.
I am not even showing you the shower, the bathrooms, washer/dryer, handouts with information for cyclists, map where you could put a pin showing where you are from, and two private rooms where you can put your bike, or in Matt’s case, sleep on a cot.
These people were very generous. Not all the hostels and churches are like this, although I have heard of a few that are even more elaborate.