June 11, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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June 11, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Kentucky

Bardstown to Hodgenville, Kentucky. (33 mi.) Mile 978

Land of Lincoln's childhood

Our new cycle touring friends, the Helms, stayed in a motel last night, but we discovered even more cycle tourists sharing our campground the next morning: two young women in their early 20s, cycling from Colorado east; and two guys (Dale and Paul) in their early 20's, cycling our direction on the TransAm route. They had heard friends talk about the Bikecentennial Trail, and thought, "We gotta do it." Without much prior bicycling experience, they bought Trek 520s and gear and headed out. We asked if they would do anything differently. They shook their heads soberly, recalling the Appalachians, and said, "We'd train."

Paul and Dale were as glad as we were to be out of the hills of Appalachia, and also, to be leaving those notorious eastern Kentucky dogs behind. They had not taken the dogs too seriously until a pit bull ran in front of Paul's front wheel when he was going 20 mph, causing a crash. Paul was not hurt seriously but the dog limped off, wiser, we hope. Another dog chopped into his pannier trying to get at his furiously pedaling legs.

Kentucky gas station

We caught up with Paul and Dale later at a lunch stop that offered "All You Can Eat". Watching Paul make repeated trips back for more reminded me of our son Colin's story. He and his Aussie cycling companion Craig were bicycle touring across the Australian Outback, when, after many long, remote miles, they came to a roadhouse that advertised, "All You Can Eat." The owner, not figuring on the appetites of two 22 year old male bicycle tourists, soon became alarmed at the number of trips Colin and Craig were making back from the buffet with plates heaped high, and stepped in to tell them they had had enough. Craig protested loudly that the promise of "All You Can Eat" was the biggest rip-off he had experienced since watching "The Never-Ending Story." The other customers in the place sided with the bicyclists until the owner agreed to let them have their fill.

We left Bardstown, "the second oldest town in Kentucky", without checking out the Museum of Whiskey History and Home of Three Governors (not the same place), but with no regrets. Again we bicycled through more rolling Blue Grass farmland. We did stop at the site of Abe Lincoln's early childhood home, where he lived for 5 years until almost 8. A cabin replicating the one Abe, his sister, parents, and cousins lived in sits on the original site. This homestead was the most fertile of any that Abe's father owned, yet the hardships of the early life of our 16th President are impressive in contrast to American life today.

Cabin replicating Lincoln's boyhood home on the original site.

A Catholic church in Baptist country

We were glad to make it a shorter day, since temperatures climbed to 90+ degrees. We caught up with the Helms at our destination in Hodgenville, Abraham Lincoln's birthplace and a fact Hodgenville will not let go unnoticed. Our new brake pads were waiting for us at the post office.

Our destination for the evening, which was advertised as motel, campground, and laundromat, proved to be only a run-down motel. We made the best of it, got a room adjacent to the Helms, washed out some clothes by hand, strung a clothes line, and enjoyed an evening visiting with the Germans while Mike and Peter adjusted the new brakes. Sometimes a motel does not mean a modem connection. This motel has only one rotary dial phone, at the motel office, where the owner is reluctant to let us connect the laptop.

We learned that the Helms are grandparents too, but both retired recently. Their apartment in Hamburg is paid for, and they have budgeted for bicycle travel to see America. Their knowledge of U.S. geography and history surpasses that of many of the Americans we have encountered on our route, and their impressions of Americans are interesting. We cannot deny our dependency on cars when we sit in a campground with them, as we have on two occasions, and watch fellow American campers get in their cars and drive 100 yards to the campground laundromat or garbage cans. Living in Hamburg, Maren either commuted to work on her bicycle or used mass transit, never owning a car nor learning to drive. When we ask Peter what he makes of the huge lawns we have encountered since the beginning of the trip, he says that he thinks Americans, when they are through with work, "want still to be doing something that is like driving a car", referring to the ride-on lawnmowers. It's as good an explanation as any.

Peter and Maren

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