Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day 12: Breaks, VA to Hindman, KY (69.5 Miles)

Breaking camp before dawn is the last thing you want to do to start the morning. Therefore, I brewed some coffee that motivated us enough to get moving and ready for the road by 6:30AM. We gave our hugs of goodbye to Gregory and departed from the hilly confines of Breaks Insterstate Park. We began to descend down a mountain with the sun beginning to cut through the morning fog -- it was a great introduction for Jonathan. Before we knew it, we arrived at the Kentucky border.

Listen, I don't like to vilify an entire state, but Kentucky is a horrible place. Within miles after crossing the border, people became less hospitable/friendly, roads became far more rough with broken pavement, the trucks became louder with Confederate flags adorned proudly, and the weather became far more muggy. Jonathan and I commented that the topography, road-side brush fires, and copious amount of litter reminded us of the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. There's no leash laws in Kentucky, which wouldn't be a problem if their owners didn't train them to be very angry beasts. I'm a dog lover and it breaks my heart to have to frantically avoid bite marks on my legs. Of course, there were exceptions... including this friendly pup pictured below. In spite of their intent (innocent or malice), I haven't "sprayed" a dog and don't plan on doing so. I shouldn't punish the dogs with deterrent pepper spray, I should spray their owners for lack of proper pet stewardship!

Today and tomorrow are the last days of facing the challenging climbs that are the Appalachian Mountains. We spent the morning on a relatively flat area, taking turns drafting one another and stopped in at a small grocery store for some hot biscuits and orange juice. We ran into 5 very challenging climbs and the brutal steepness of these roads were extremely unforgiving. Jonathan had a very moderate gearing ratio, which did not allow for him to take on climbs at a slower pace, thus making his climbs more challenging. Luckily for Jonathan, his load is much lighter due to his one week stay on the Trans-Am Trail. In addition, his faster climbs enabled him to take a nice breather at the top and wait for my slow-butt moving up hill like molasses in January.

I plan on only taking four days to travel through Kentucky, but we'll see how that goes. The eastern portion of this state is just as hilly and challenging as Virginia, but with less bike shops (none for 300 miles) and questionable motels. Speaking of which, I was given an early warning from Chris (of the British trio) not to stay at Motel 80 in Hindman, because it's apparently raided often for drug dealing and gunfire is also very common. Seeking an alternative, we called ahead to "Knott County Historical Society B&B." The owner answered and said the B&B was under construction, but we could set up a tent in his greenhouse. Seeing no other better alternative, we hoofed it towards Hindman.

On our way, we decided to "eat fresh" at Subway and stop for a little breather. Jonathan picked up an issue the "Lonesome Creek Times," and I'd like to share this article with you (it may give you an idea how things are done in Kentucky!): And I quote: "HINDMAN MAN INJURED IN ATV ACCIDENT: An ATV accident occured (sic), Sunday, July 5, leaving a man injured after falling off a four-wheeler. The accident occured (sic) on Middle Fork of Quicksand in the Laurel Fork area. According to Ball Creek VFD Chief David Slone, Elmer Bolen, a middle-aged man with no legs and only one arm, was riding an ATV when he fell off..." It goes on, but I think that helps provide a taste of what the local flavor is like.

Like a diamond in the rough, we stumbled upon the Knott County Historical Society B&B, only to find Dave, an eccentric home owner with many, many cats. I'm assuming the "Historical Society" part is for tax exemptions, but apparently he's the owner of it... what ever said "it" may be. In any case, we found this to be the perfect stop for the evening. After climbing up the ungodly steep hill to the B&B (without the first B), we were greeted by Dave and two ice cold sweet teas. We were soon joined by a couple from Framingham, MA. Chris and Chris. He's from London, she's from Vermont. They're a really nice couple and are riding non-touring bikes, but pulling B.O.B.'s, which are essentially trailers dragged behind the bike. Their blog can be followed here: Jonathan and I had a great time getting to know them, sharing dog stories, and looking over each other's gear.

After a delicious pizza dinner, followed with an ice cream sundae, Jonathan and I headed to the greenhouse for some shut-eye. Along the way, we found a raccoon eating our leftover ice cream and Dave warned us with stories about poisonous snakes and how Kentucky is horrid with carrying anti-venom in local hospitals. Fun stuff! We plan on riding over the last mountainous area tomorrow and getting into Booneville for another well-earned rest. Sweet dreams!


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