Day 15: Berea to Bardstown
Today was going to be big.
We were finally out of the mountains and decided to start making some major pushes to increase our mileage. We headed out around 7 a.m. from Boone Tavern, and prepared ourselves for some “flat” riding.
We figured that since we had passed the mountainous terrain, it had to mean everything else was going to be easy, right?
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
During the first hour, as we rolled through the fields of Kentucky Bluegrass, I thought to myself, “well this is the life.”
I should have been more cautious with my thoughts.
After a few rolling hills, we hit a steep downhill towards a river bed. One thing I’ve learned on my trip is that downhills always indicate an uphill in the near future.
After battling through the subsequent uphill, we realized that we had missed a turn and needed to backtrack 2.5 miles.
A woman planting her garden told us that it happens all the time to bikers and she wrote to the county to fix the sign.
At least we didn’t feel stupid. We looked at Karey’s GPS and decided to take a shortcut to the road we needed to be on, which was another mistake, because the shortcut involved possibly the steepest hill I’ve encountered so far on the trip. We battled the relentless hills up until lunch.
When I walked into the restaurant we picked, I only had one thing on my mind: milkshakes.
Walking into the small diner-like restaurant I spotted a milkshake machine gleaming with radiant light behind it on the counter. When asked what I wanted to drink I eagerly said “a water and a vanilla milkshake, please!”.
The waitress looked at me like I was crazy and said “well I can get you the water, but we don’t have milkshakes.” I guess it was just for decoration.
After a big lunch we set out again, and the food had made me sleepy. We still had another fifty miles to go before our destination, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it.
To make things worse, I got my first flat tire of the trip. The flat somehow shook off my bad attitude, and I began to see the day as a challenge I needed to overcome, rather than the cakewalk I expected at the beginning.
We pedaled past beautiful barns and fields, and had vistas of endless countryside at the tops of hills. The second fifty miles of the day went by much easier and were a lot more enjoyable than the first.
As we approached 100 miles, we arrived at the motel Karey’s parents had found. Again they generously offered me a place to sleep in their motel, and took me out to dinner in town.
Day 16: Bardstown to Elizabethtown
After more than two weeks of rain free riding, our luck started to change.
Karey and I wanted to bump up the mileage, starting in Berea. We had been pretty succesful so far. Today, the destination was Sonora, KY, only fifty miles away.
We planned to do a quick morning ride to get there, and then meet up with Karey’s parents to go to the Mammoth Caves National Park, which was very closeby.
I had to get a prescription filled so I hung around waiting for the pharmacy to open, and then started out on a shortcut to Sonora.
On the way I double checked the map, and realized we had misread it and that there was no place to stay in Sonora. I texted Karey and we met up near Hodgensville, KY.
After a little while, we decided to go a little out of the way to Elizabethtown, KY, a bigger town with definite lodging options.
After 14 miles, we checked into the hotel with Karey’s parents and hopped in the car to Mammoth Caves.
We got there minutes before the last tour started and it was sold out.
We went as far as we could get without a tour, which was enough for me anyway. Cold, wet air flowed out of the dark cave opening. It wasn’t something I felt like hanging out in for two hours. At least not today.
We headed back to Elizabethtown and slept.
Day 17: Elizabethtown, KY to Falls of Rough, KY
After not covering much ground the day before, we wanted to have another 100 mile day today. We woke up at 6:00 and got our bikes ready to go, but while we were eating breakfast, a nasty storm rolled in.
This was the worst storm I had seen so far on the trip. Huge bolts of lightening filled the sky and made it clear we were not going to be going outside for a bit. We sat in our hotel room and watched the sky and the radar.
Just as the sky would lighten and it would seem that the storm had passed, another storm cell would form just behind and the thunder and lightening would start up again.
We were antsy and annoyed that we had woken up at 6 a.m, only to be delayed, and just wanted to hit the road. Finally, at around noon we got our chance. The front moved on and we started riding.
The terrain was gentler and we made good time. We made a few stops: one at a bike friendly country filling station. We got complimentary freeze pops and signed the biker log book.
Down the road we stopped at another filling station and were astonished because this one crammed several different services into one building. It was part gas station, part restauarant, part country store, part convenience store, and amazingly part tanning salon.
As we approached the Rough River State Park, where we would stay for the night, another storm menaced us.
When we were two miles away, the storm looked like it was just about on top of us, and we decided to try to beat it to the park. Just when we were half a mile away, it started to rain and thunder.
Around the next corner there was a huge, open dam we had to cross. I pedaled like crazy, half expecting to be taken out at any second by lightning.
After we reached the other side, we pulled into the Army Corps of Engineers building. We took refuge while the short lived storm passed and moved on to the park for the night.