Thursday, September 21, 2023
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Up at 6 am and feeling well for first time in weeks. Sore and stiff muscles but in a good way.
The Quality Inn Dry Ridge has a great breakfast and with time to kill I made use of oatmeal and the waffle maker before others arrived. Tom was glad for first sag as it had the only climbs of the day. Bob, Ross and I set off away from busy interstate traffic and were quickly on a beautiful rural road that ran along the ridge from which the town got its name. Traffic was very light and mostly in the other direction. There were two steep dips into a heavily wooded valley with accompanying steep climbs. Maybe because they were early in the ride they were not has difficult as yesterday’s climbs.
From the rural road we by needs had to get on a more trafficked main road into civilization. My meandering pace picked up so we were quickly to Tom and my sag turn.
I’d set my phone’s RideWithGPS app to give voice prompts for turns back at the motel to no benefit as she’d uttered not a peep the entire way. Ross had set his Garmin Nuvi to direct me to the next regroup point. RideWithGPS woke up and began giving instructions for following the cycle route as Garmin was giving me vehicle instructions. I had to pull off and shut off my phone.
After that it was an easy drive to the next stop, a Trek bicycle store. There I bought a new spare tire to replace the one cut by glass in Bardstown, and a spare set of gloves to replace the ones that did not get packed.
Ross took over sag for the day. We were now in a truly urban area where traffic is sometimes heavy but not going nearly as fast as on suburban roads. It’s a feature of any long distance tour. Rural is ok, urban is ok, suburbs suck.
We regrouped at the Hofbräuhaus a German restaurant in Covington just before the Purple People mover bridge. We all ate too much. Then it was over the Ohio river into downtown Cincinnati where we had greenways or marked bicycle lanes the whole way to the Little Miami Scenic rail trail.
Exiting the trail was a bit dicey with a steep downhill to the busy street. For once the button to stop traffic for pedestrians worked and we followed Tom and his Garmin to what should have been our day’s end. It was not there.
Ross phoned to let us know the coordinates were off and we were across an impassable rail line with trees obscuring our motel. My bad. We had to backtrack about a half mile to cross the tracks to the road leading to our motel. My position as route planner is now under review.
After settling in we went to the unique Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant about a mile from our motel. We ate lighter in anticipation of a visit to the well remembered United Dairy Farmers convenience store a bit further up the road. Bob and Tom got large shakes. Ross and I split a half gallon of butter pecan ice cream. Ours was better. The ever resourceful Ross even produced an ice cream scoop and a couple of spoons. We’re likely to make another ice cream run.
Tomorrow is laundry day. The motel has a guest laundry and Ross has the supplies, including quarters. Other than laundry and more ice cream, tomorrow is for loafing.
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
All but Ross were moving slowly this morning. I’d set the alarm for pm so only by luck awoke at 7 am. No problem, Tom was also still sleeping. The motel had no breakfast and only decaf for the one cup at a time coffee maker. We all went to the nearby Waffle House, then loaded and went. This was the worst motel so far and it cost in the mid range of most of the others. I’d chosen it for convenience when arriving by bicycle. Others are almost as close and almost surely better.
I had first sag today and since we were in civilization, I was able to get the van’s tires aired up at a Goodyear service center. No charge. The low pressure light went out. An auspicious start. The car GPS took me by larger roads to the first sag stop in Pleasureville. Even the major roads would have been good for a cycle route.
The bike riders reported their roads had been excellent. Pleasureville’s city hall was open with public restrooms that kept us from risking indecent exposure. I was feeling the best since the first day and set off with Ross and Tom. Bob had second sag.
The roads were good, low traffic and fewer PUC’s than the day before. We made good time to Gratz where Bob had the van parked in the shade of a walnut tree.
Ross had next sag. Bob, Tom, and I had a 9.7% 400-ft climb out of
Gratz. To make matters
worse, the road was on a twisty narrow road, blinded by woods, and
traveled by large dump trucks hauling stones. I was in my lowest gear the
entire way but never had to walk. Bob also managed to cycle the entire way. Tom had to turn on the "sport-mode" for his ebike.
From there to Owensville there were only minor climbs and a lot of large trucks. All were courteous and never scary.
We all met for lunch at the incomparable Family Billiards restaurant. We chatted with several locals interested in our adventure. After a leisurely lunch and milk shakes the cashier refused our money, telling us another patron had paid for us all. Bob eventually got the identity of our patron and left money to pay it forward.
After lunch, Tom decided to call it a day at mile 40. He’d not fully
recovered from yesterday plus his battery was running low after that long haul out of Gratz. He was
concerned he could not for complete the ride with power-support.
The last two legs were good with moderate polite traffic and two monster climbs. The last one dove into a densely wooded valley via a good surfaced one lane road. The climb out had a short section too steep for either of us to cycle. Very pretty but pretty hard. I don’t regret routing that way but will not do it again.
Our motel tonight is the Quality Inn in Dry Ridge. It is a tremendous step up from last night. Supper was at the next door Cracker Barrel. Tomorrow we enter Ohio.
Monday, September 18, 2023
Today is the shortest of the tour at 39 miles. Given that and to avoid Monday rush hour traffic we planned a late start. We did that but everyone being so tired from the prior day, we were all in bed by 9 pm. I awoke at 3:30 ready to go and killed an hour surfing the net on my cell phone before taking another couple hours nap. The others reported the same, except Ross for whom that schedule is normal.
Breakfast was great. Everything one might get at a Waffle House in a large separate building. The office even had a bin of old towels for folks to use cleaning motorbikes, boots, and bicycles. Bob and I took advantage of the towels and extra time to clean and lube our chains. This is a great motel from every aspect.
Bob had first sag so Tom, Ross, and I set out about 9 to moderately heavy traffic. There was construction on the main street requiring us to go off route for a bit onto what was actually a better street. Once clear of the city, traffic was very light and uniformly courteous. The issue was the constant road undulations. Many, many, down a hill and up a hill just too far to roll over.
My legs began to fade. Just as the road leveled a bit I got a call from my wife that I’d left a blue medicine bag in the room. I have such a bag and had done some last minute fishing around in my bags so figured it was me. A call to Bob and he returned to fetch the bag. I really felt bad about leaving the bag till learning it was actually Bob’s bag, after which I felt much better.
Near the end of our first leg on KY 1392 between Fairfield and KY 55, we had about a 3 mile gentle climb on a gorgeous canopied road with pool table smooth pavement. Tom got ahead of us but not by as much as he estimated.
First regroup was at a Corps of Engineers site on Taylorsville Lake. We arrived a few minutes before Bob finished his harrowing drive on a main road. He had reservations about cycling further but we reassured him we’d not be on that bad.
Turned out the roads and Bob were fine but the challenging undulations returned to be capped off by a 9% 200 meter climb that ended my riding. I’m not disappointed since my goals was to ride at least one leg of each Kentucky day. I’m stronger daily but still not well.
Ross and I went to the Shelbyville Econolodge 1 ½ hrs before the published check in. Most times that’s no problem but today it was. No amount of wheedling helped. He would not let us stash the bikes inside the totally vacant lobby.
Tom and Bob arrived within 30 min and we decided to try Claudia Saunders House restaurant only to find it closed on Mondays. No problem, we wound up at Cattleman’s Roadhouse which Bob declared the best meal of the day.
Ross and I went to the nearby Walmart to gas up and for me to get toothpaste. Now we are napping and considering what to get for a bedtime snack.
Sunday, September 17, 2023
We were up by 6:30 and at breakfast by 7. Breakfast was cereal, milk, yogurt and coffee. No waffles or toast as those machines tripped the circuit breaker and shut down coffee. There was general displeasure at the situation but no one disputed what took priority. Bob was not feeling up to every one of the hills today so he rode in the van with Tom for first sag.
They missed the best part of the ride. Cool temps for September, high 60’s, overcast and good tailwind escorted us through rolling farm country with maybe ten cars the entire 18 mile leg. Ross is a very accommodating cycling mate so the pace was the slowest of the tour so far. We met Tom at the western edge of Eastern time zone into which Bob had already entered several minutes prior.
After getting settled in the van, I quickly passed Tom and Ross but only caught Bob at the edge of Hodgenville, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. I followed him to the town park with its Lincoln memorial. Both on ebikes, Tom and Ross arrived in short time. After a few documenting pictures Ross took sag and the cyclist headed toward lunch on US 31E, or road the rest of the day. On a prior ride we’d used what on the map appeared to be a back way into Bardstown. That back way was a favorite of screaming semis so this time we chose the more direct route on a main road. US 31E was fine with moderate traffic and good sight lines to our lunch in New Haven.
Lunch was at the most excellent Howie’s Family Friendly restaurant in New Haven. The wind picked up and the temperature went down suddenly as we were dismounting. A he moderate rain began as we ordered and was gone when we paid. While ordering Tom mentioned we’d not had much breakfast which prompted the waitress to flip to the breakfast menu. We had an excellent late breakfast.
After New Haven traffic increased markedly and by Bardstown we were more than ready for the ride to end. The only shoulder was across the bridge before the climb into Bardstown. Among the debris was a quarter inch piece of glass that found my rear tire. Being less than a mile from the end I called Ross for sag so I could assess and make repairs in a quite room. The tube could be patched but I am afraid to trust the tire on any of the upcoming downhills. I had a new Gatorskin and plan to buy another spare when we regroup at a bike store near Cincinnati.
As I write this, we are loafing. Will likely have supper at the buffet next door.
Saturday, September 16, 2023
The day began and continued unseasonably cool and over cast.
Rain threatened near the end but never got us wet. I was still weak from whatever lingering malady afflicted me the past two weeks so was glad to take first sag. The cool weather had Ross’s van reporting low tire pressure so I stopped at 3 gas stations on the way. None had air service. In Scottsville I parked at the Sonic Drive in and had a strawberry shake as compensation for using their spacious lot.
When the crew arrived Tom reported they had taken an early
exit off the scary US31E onto a side road Ride With GPS had not allowed me to use when planning. They found the reason. A bridge was out. Rather than return to US 31E they did a bit of cycle cross to traverse the mostly dry creek bed. Bob took over SAG and Tom, Ross, and I set out past the birthplace of Dollar General.
The first seven miles were a gentle but steady climb with very light courteous traffic. Tom got quite a lead but Ross stayed with me. This is the sort of climb I would usually love. Today it was a grind. At the summit Tom waited and we all had a nice long coast back to cross US31E.
Circumnavigating Barren River Lake was mostly a pleasant roller coaster ride. We did pull off a few times to let accumulated traffic go by. Only one car ever yelled at us. Ross commented he didn’t mind the yelling as it confirmed the driver had seen us. About Half way round the lake Bob was waiting for Ross to assume sag for the day. I was unsure of being able to make the entire route so elected to keep Ross company for this most hilly section. The regroup site was a cross roads with a disused store whose empty lot had room for the van. Tom and Bob made very good time with no Bruce anchor.
Tom had declared beforehand that he’d sag the last segment. On the day he was up to the entire ride. Lunch was in a local restaurant named 5 Broke girls in Cave City. Unknown to me there were two of these, another in nearby Horse Cave. I’d given Ross the GPS coordinates to the wrong one so it was some finagling past a local festival to get Ross to us. We were also lucky to find them open as they were closing early for some reason I don’t remember and we were their last customers for 3 days. Food and service were excellent.
It was as we were leaving 5 Broke Girls that a light rain began. Radar revealed a thin tail of a much larger system passing over us. After a 5 minute wait, we set out to wet streets but no rain. Two miles later even the streets were dry. Our first mile was on busy US 31, then diverted to an idyllic side road that took us to the Quality Inn. We were met at he entrance by a couple having second thoughts about the quality of this Quality Inn. We assured them it was undoubtedly fine for us but we were probably not ones to give advice. It is a standard mid range motel with not enough electrical outlets for our many devices but fine otherwise. Supper was at a nearby Subway located in a Love’s truck stop.
All in all, a fine first day. I did better than feared.