June 14, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TransAmerica Bike Trip

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June 14, 2001


Utica Fire Station to Clay Fire Station, Kentucky. (50 mi.) Mile 1134

Last day in Kentucky

We are back in another Fire Station with the Helms for the evening. The temperature and humidity were high again, so we only had 50 miles in us today. The morning miles were as pleasant as always, but again, by noon, we were baked and drenched in sweat, seeking any excuse to pull over in the shade. What we tried to think of as a "cooling breeze" developed into a full-fledged headwind just as the hills started to give us a break. The terrain is gradually sloping toward the Ohio River Valley separating Kentucky and Illinois.

Tomorrow we will cross the Ohio River, leave Kentucky behind, and part company, sadly, with the Helms. We have enjoyed immensely sharing this time with them. They have a great spirit of adventure, interest in learning, and sense of humor,.... but they are retired and we are not. They want to take time for a more leisurely pace while we have to return to our jobs mid-August. We are already off schedule a bit, and have a new bike problem. While Mike was changing brake pads a few days ago, he discovered 6-7 stress fractures around the spokes on his rear wheel. We have called ahead to the bike shop in Carbondale IL and arranged for a a new rim.

We have not been pushing the mileage lately as it would only put us in Carbondale too early, on a weekend, but we are looking forward to visiting with our friend and previous co-worker, Bill Davies, who is going to school in Carbondale.

Today's ride took us through more green countryside. We passed huge chicken farms while huge Tyson's chicken trucks passed us. Here in Kentucky, they "do chicken right".


The Green River is not green.


Rumble bumps but no shoulder


We have been impressed with Kentucky's hospitality. Here and in Utica, when we were miles from a campground or motel, these communities have welcomed us to spend the night at their fire station bunkhouses. In the small town of Dixon, Mike and I went off route to find a place to sit down for something cool, only to find the cafe was just closing up. The waitress took one look at how hot we looked, welcomed us in, brought us very tall glasses of ice tea, and refused to accept payment, saying it was on the house.

Again in Dixon, we were sitting in the shade of a large tree in the county courthouse yard, looking overheated, when a local merchant came over from the hardware store across the street, asked, "Where y'all from?", gave us free pens and brought us cold bottled water, no charge. He urged us to drop a postcard to let him know about our adventures down the road. Upon receiving the cold water, Peter proclaimed, "Here on this trip in America, I am learning to enjoy the moment."


Stopping for shade in Dixon


Other images of Kentucky include:

Beautiful butterflies, thick woods, green grass, dogs (particularly that big, red hound with the Confederate flag collar, straining at his chain to get at us), speeding coal trucks and pickups, handsome horses, good biscuits, pride in Kentucky's pioneer heritage, thick accents requiring a need for translation for our German friends, churches with reader boards that said things like:

  • "Free ticket to heaven. Inquire inside."

  • "Exposure to The Son prevents burning."

  • "Be a fisher of men. You catch 'em, He'll clean 'em."

  • .... and (as in Virginia) acres of lawns, where there is no need for irrigation but only a need to mow them twice a week, making lawn mowing Kentucky's biggest outdoor participation activity.


Lawn-mowing is big in Kentucky


Tomorrow, on to Illinois.

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