A Belated Monday Report

Another tough day today. It didn't rain, except for a little sprinkle this morning, and distance-wise it was short, but it was a challenge none-the-less.

God knows when I'll be able to post this. There's a good cellular signal here at Carr Creek State Park, but data throughput is non-existent. No big surprise there, but I can still type, so I'm typing. You can read it when you can read it.

The first 26 miles were pretty uneventful. I tried taking regular breaks today, and it made a big difference. Every 10 miles, which corresponded to about every hour, I'd stop and eat some raisins, drink some water, and just saunter up and down the side of the road for a bit. This was great, as far as it went.

The 30-mile rest, unfortunately, took much longer to arrive. First it was my back wheel, flat again. I momentarily freaked out, thinking it must be the cut in my tire again, and that it would be all I could manage to just get to Hazard (Them Dukes! Them Dukes!) and call it quits. But I found a sliver of glass in the tire, and when I pulled the tube, the puncture was easy to find. My tire patch was holding.

A Good Samaritan showed up — a fellow named Adam with a University of Kentucky ballcap, a couple kids in the car, and a floor pump. Thank you Adam, wherever you are. Adam spared me a CO2 cartridge, of which I had only three. He told me he bikes a lot in the area.

"Is there a bike shop in Hazard?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "you pretty much have to get all your stuff online around here."

So I set off again, fearing the back tire would blow at any moment. I went about three miles before it happened. Only, it was the front tire that went squishy. Again, all the tools came out, the tire and tube came off, and a new tube went on. I couldn't find the leak in the first tube, so I wrapped it up intending to fix it in camp.

This time I didn't even go a mile before the front tire went again, with a violent hiss this time. Out came the tools, off came the tube. It had a pinch hole in it — a snakebite, it's called, as it consists of two side-by-side holes; a characteristic wound that's usually caused by the tube getting pinched as the bike goes over a rock or a break in the pavement.

As I worked and sweated profusely in the scorching sun, a truck pulled up. A guy resembling my high school computer science teacher got out and walked over to me.

"Did you see a girl walking down the side of the road?" he said.

"No."

"Well, I left my phone somewhere and now I can't find it."

I couldn't quite put the logic of this together, but I told him if I saw it I'd give him a call. He gave me another number and started to leave. Just as he was getting in the truck he turned back and asked, "Do you need any help?"

Some folks are amazingly obtuse.

Patched, I continued. The highway I'd been riding on was a four-laner, with wide shoulders. It was loud and the shoulders were swimming in debris. So it was something of a relief when I got off. Four miles, the map said, to Hazard. I drank the last of my water, thinking I'd be refilling in 20 minutes.

Well, half of that four miles was the worst climb I've ever experienced. It was so steep I couldn't pedal up anymore — I was forced to get off and push the bike. Thirst was killing me; I was completely drained and could only go 20 or 30 yards at a stretch before having to sit and rest a while. I was dizzy, sweating profusely, and sucking down air like a jet intake.

The most horrible thing about this hill was the way it zig-zagged ahead of me, so I could see cars passing the around the next bend 30 or 40 feet above me. It seemed to last forever.

But end it finally did, and was followed by a long descent, which I did at a mere 15 miles-per-hour because I am now haunted by the specter of a tire blowing out while I'm zooming down at 40.

Hazard was boring and completely devoid of people that look anything at all like Bo and Luke. The TV Hazard bears zero resemblance to the real Hazard, but then, it was probably shot in California. If the Duke boys were always hanging around in crappy old shacks and zipping into town to get Happy Meals at McDonalds, fewer people would have watched.

Yee-haw.

I'll skip the next 16 miles and just say that I arrived at the campground at 8pm. The ranger cabin was closed, so I just picked a spot and set up camp. The place sported a laundry room — yay! But there was no bill changer — boo! I put a couple bucks in the Coke machine and pressed the coin return button, but it wouldn't give me my money back. I had to buy a Coke, but at least I had a Coke. And fifty cents.

So I went from RV to RV asking people to make change. In time I gathered enough to wash and dry, but not enough for detergent. No problem — I sliced off a bit of my multi-purpose soap. Clothes washed. Then I find the damned dryer doesn't work. So everything will smell as crappy tomorrow as it did when I started the fruitless exercise.

On a bright note, some people at a neighboring RV (it's all RV campers these days — what ever became of tent people?) popped over to offer me food. I gratefully ate Polish sausage and potatoes and talked to them about my route — which is supposed to get better — and Kentucky — which has a lot of horses, I'm told — and a bunch of Danish people who passed through the area last year on a cross-country Segway trip.

I'm not kidding.

67 (?) miles. Hard miles.