June 6, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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June 6, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Kentucky

Pippa Passes Hostel to Buckhorn Dam Campground, Kentucky. (58 mi.) Mile 740

Taking the Hazardous route

We had to detour off the route again today, into Hazard, KY, in a fruitless search for a bike shop. There is no longer a bike shop there, and the closest thing to it was closed. Mike learned that the brakes that the shop back home packaged up to send to us are the wrong kind. He is having to make some long, steep descents off these mountains with only rear brakes and an extra heavy load, and we are not yet sure when or how we can get brake pads. A few days ago, Mike took some more weight off my bike to share in the sore muscles, and I am having a much easier time. His bike now creaks and groans under the weight.

Architectural interest in Hazard - the Mother Goose Building

The detour only added about a mile, but it was not a pretty mile. In fact, unlike days earlier in the trip when we were constantly exclaiming, "This is sure beautiful!", we haven't had to make as many of those comments lately, especially around Hazard. The detour added to mileage we had to ride along a four lane highway, hugging a shoulder scored with rumble bumps and cluttered with rocks and coal. Occasionally we caught glimpses of open coal mines through the trees and veins of coal in the road cuts. There were a few miles of lush green Kentucky rural scenery, but we were flying along on the flat so thrilled to be moving at a brisker pace, that we couldn't bring ourselves to stop for a picture.

This coal truck driver saw me with a camera and stopped his truck, indicating I should take his picture.
The coal truck drivers have been better at giving us space than the maniacal rural school bus drivers.

We pitched our tent in the yard at the hostel last night, awakened by early morning bird racket: cardinals, blue jays, wrens, hummingbirds, doves, thrushes. The birds are really noisy out here. Walter joined us for breakfast a few miles down the road, and again, said his good-byes as he rode off on his pace, not sure when or if he will see us again.

Walter rides out of the picture again.

Temperatures reached the high 80s when we hit the end-of-the-day hills. Some miles go very fast, others take hours. The hills can reduce us to a 3-4 mph pace, and if they are 4-5 miles long, as they have been lately, it can take us a couple of hours to get through them, since we usually have to stop midway. If we had had radiators, they would have boiled over. I think we are getting more used to how arduous this challenge is, getting into the groove, but also, we know that the hills will level out in a couple of days, at least until the Ozarks. We have appreciated our insulated water bottles when we are able to fill them will ice. We also carry snacks like apples, bananas, crackers (Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Cheez-Its), bakery things, and always, sports drink from powder. Today we each drank about a gallon of fluids.

At times we have both been so played out that we have had to push our bikes. Mike suggested I write a sequel to Donna Eikenberry's "Bicycling Coast to Coast" and call it "Pushing a Bicycle Coast to Coast", for the slow reader, I presume.

Historic log church near Buckhorn Dam campground

There has been a reward at the end of this day, our best campground yet: nice grass, quiet setting, clean bathrooms, room to spread out our stuff. I can't take a picture of it though, because we are in the middle of another big, dark thunderstorm, and it is pouring rain. It was pretty here until the thunderhead rolled in. I am writing this on the little laptop in the cozy campground laundromat, where we are washing clothes. Lightening is flashing outside, and I am using battery power to avoid connecting the computer to any electrical system. There is a neat, professional sign in here that says, "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not responsible for items left in the drier".

The hot showers here were better than any we have had so far at the motels, and the hamburgers and milkshakes just up the street were exceptionally good. We are optimistic the sun will be back tomorrow.

Working on the laptop in the campground laundromat.

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