Day 42 – Berea to Booneville

Sat 17th July 2010

Chris was asleep early last night and felt better when he woke up. We were heading into the Apallachian mountains today but we only had 60 miles to do so we knew we had a short day ahead and were glad that another 90 miler wasn’t on the cards. It was cloudy when we set off and to the North of us the skies were black and we could hear thunder. That storm got closer and closer and produced some impressive lighting. It then started to rain hard and I dived under a tree to put away all my drying clothes when the rain suddenly stopped again. As if by magic the storm disappeared and it cleared up.

Appellachian foothills

Foothills of the Apallachians

The mountains get very close to the road here

We had a few longer climbs today as an introduction but apart from some short hills the gradients were okay and it was quite a fun days cycling enjoying the scenery while  looking out for the next dog. Some of the roads we were on today were very narrow and twisty with no road markings, hardly the kind of roads I expected to find in the US but very welcome.

Invasive vine

This vine grows over everything

My good deed for today was to rescue a tortoise that was upside down in the middle of the road. The poor thing was in the heat of the sun and was waving its legs around trying to right itself (an impossible task).

Upside down tortoise

Get me out of here

Places to fill our water bottles were very  scarce today but we found a place about 7 miles outside of destination of Booneville where we met Henry who allowed us to fill our water bottles and gave us both a nice cold can of Pepsi. We chatted to Henry for a while and he told us about the local snakes and warned us about the ticks in the grassy areas.


Friendly local, Henry

We arrived in Booneville by about 1:00pm and called Linda who runs the only B&B in town. We then discovered that we’d cycled past her place about 3 miles before the town which was back up a long hill. Not expecting us to cycle back she drove her pick-up to meet us and we put the bikes in the back. After a shower she then drove us back into town to the grocery store. That’s service for you.

We are staying in a nice little house on her property and we’re sharing it with our cycling friend Ed who turned up later in the day having cycled 94 miles today. He told us that the men at the bridge did indeed tell him to go around the detour but he quickly realised we’d put them up to it.

Our home for tonight at Booneville

So today has been a good day and we are well fed and rested and looking forward to tomorrow. Chris is feeling better and was probably suffering a touch of heatstroke yesterday.

Daily Mileage – 61.9 miles

Time in Saddle – 5 hrs 36 mins

Total Climbing – 3,629 ft

Day 41 – Bardstown to Berea

Fri 16th July 2010

From this point on we only have to average 70 miles per day but in the heat and terrain that will still be a tough challenge. We have covered over 180 miles in the past two days in extremely high temperatures and ever increasing hills. It’s also 11 days since we had a rest day and added together has left Chris quite exhausted to the point that he just wants to be at the end. We will probably bring our next rest day forward and take it in a couple of days time, maybe sooner depending on how Chris is feeling.

Rural Kentucky

Today's route took us through some very rural areas


These Alpacas were very cute

We were on the road again at first light and the first 40 miles today were pretty good. We had some cloud cover which kept the heat of the sun off us but the humidity has to be experienced to be believed. Sweat was just pouring off us all day. In the afternoon the sun came out and some longer, steeper hills made the last 30 miles hard work.

Grocery store

The first grocery store for 40 miles. We were almost out of water when we found this.

At a place called Mackville we passed some ‘Road Closed’ signs and as usual we ignored them. So when we got to the road works we were quite surprised to find that the bridge that should have been there wasn’t. Luckily the workmen building the new bridge were and they assisted us to get across in one piece. They were a good bunch and we had a few laughs with them before we carried on. We asked them to have a joke with Ed (the other cyclist we’ve been with for the last few days) and tell him, when he reached there, that he would have to go back and take a 20 mile detour. They liked that idea but we’ve yet to speak to Ed to see what happened.


The end of the road - literally

This guy carried our bikes to save us getting covered in mud. That's Sherman fully loaded - he deserves a medal.

Reaching Berea today is a boost for me and it’s a shame Chris isn’t feeling the same way just now. Berea is the gateway to the Apellachian Mountains which is our next and final challenge of this ride. It may also prove to be the most testing if the tales of woe we’ve heard from all the Westbound cyclists prove to be true. I can’t believe they’ll be any worst than cycling over the Pyrenees so it should be a piece of cake! Time will tell.

We had a few more half hearted dog chases today but it’s been so hot I don’t think the dogs can be bothered. I hope they get their act together because we spent $15 on pepper spray and we need to use it up before we finish :-)

If we ride tomorrow our destination will be Booneville approx 60 miles away.

Dail Mileage – 95.35 miles

Time in Saddle – 8 hrs 28 mins

Total Climbing – 5,619 ft

Day 40 – Falls of Rough to Bardstown

Thurs 15th July 2010

Today’s forecast was for the hottest day here for three years with 94% humidity and the heat index at 106 degrees F. With almost 100 miles to do we thought we’d better start early so we put our clocks forward ahead of the time change we would cross today and set the alarm for 5:00am which meant that we woke up at 4:00am local time. (this doesn’t feel like a holiday anymore).

Bird boxes

Don't stand under these

We were ready to go before it was light so for the first time we used our rear lights and got away while it was still relatively cool. We were in no rush today and took every opportunity to refill our water bottles as it was important that we drank lots in such conditions. It was like cycling in an oven once the sun had come up.

Kentucky House

We've passed some great properties along the way

The terrain and scenery was much the same as the last couple of days but that’s fine because it’s very picturesque with lots of twists and turns. We also had a few dogs chasing us (chasing me that is) but I think most were too hot to bother today. The highlight of today’s ride was cycling past the place where Abraham Lincoln was born near to a place called Buffalo and past a church where one of his childhood friends is buried.

Farming with Horses

A rare sight these days

We rolled into Bardstown at about 4:30pm after a long day on the bikes and were pleased to get showered and out of the extreme heat. Bardstown is the Bourbon capital of the USA and is the home to a number of distilleries including Jim Beam.

Daily Mileage -97.6 miles

Time in Saddle -8 hrs 19 mins

Total Climbing – 4,722 ft

Day 39 – Sebree to Falls of Rough

Wed 14th July 2010

Today should have been a rest day for us in Sebree but we decided to lose it in favour of reducing some high mileage days through the Appellation Mountains. So at the moment we’re a whole day ahead of where we should be and with the weather forecast for the next few days I think we’re going to need those miles.

When we left this morning it was already very warm without a cloud in the sky and the forecast was for a hot day with very high humidity. It was actually a bit foggy in places first thing and we were glad when that finally lifted.

Morning mist

Some early morning mist

We made good time this morning managing to do 60 miles by midday. That was just as well because it was extremely hot by the afternoon and uncomfortable on the bikes. It was just so humid that it was draining especially going uphill where there was no breeze to cool us down. As we travel East towards the mountains it’s gradually getting hillier each day.

Becky & Ed

Bethan & Ed are from Oxford and were heading West. Long way to go.

Tomorrow we are expecting a tough day as we have to complete almost 100 miles and they are expecting the hottest day here since 2006 with record humidity! So it will be an early start and lots of stops to rehydrate and cool down along the way. Once we get the next two days over with our daily mileage will reduce with no more excessively long days.

House & pond

Lots of houses here have large ponds

The end is finally in sight for us now with less than two weeks before we finish. We have now ridden 3,383 miles and we have just 959 miles to go with 13 riding days left. We pass through a time zone in the morning so we will then be just 5 hrs behind UK time.

Kentucky roads

I wonder what's over that hill?

Daily Mileage – 73.3 miles

Time in Saddle – 5 hrs 43 mins

Total Climbing – 3,599 ft

Day 38 – Elizabethtown to Sebree

Tues 13th July 2010

Our stay at Elizabeth town was really good and one we’ll not forget. Before setting off this morning we sat on the rocking chairs under the porch, drinking coffee and watched the humming birds fight over the sweet water hung out for them. I could have stayed there all day.


Sue - who looked after us so well in Elizabethtown

It was raining slightly when we left but it soon stopped and before we knew it we were 10 miles down the road where we cycled straight onto the ferry which took us across the Ohio River into Kentucky.

Ohio River ferry

On the ferry crossing the Ohio River

Ohio River Ferry

Leaving the ferry behind us

Entering Kentucky

Kentucky already - just one more after this one.

Today was a short day and we finished in Sebree shortly after 1:00pm. By this time it was very hot and humid so it was nice to be able to cool down. Our ride today was similar to yesterday and I very much enjoyed it, feeling good on the bike and just enjoying the experience. Unfortunately for Chris he had one of his worst days where his legs felt heavy and he didn’t enjoy the cycling at all. I feel I should write something sarcastic here but there’s nothing worse than trying to cycle a hilly route when you don’t feel great.

Upon reaching Sebree we found the First Baptist Church where the Pastor Bob and his wife Violet take in cyclists and look after them for the day, regardless of how many turn up. Today there were eight of us, Chris and I, Ed the cyclist from last night and a family of five. We are all heading East towards Yorktown.

The hostel Bob and Violet have set up is truly fantastic and has everything we could ask for. It’s a privilage to stay here. At 6:15pm we all went across to their home where Violet and Bob had prepared the most delicious American home cooked food. It was a very special moment for everyone and one of the real highlights of the trip. To think they do this every day for all the cyclists is incredible. They’re very special people indeed.

The Sebree Group

Alan, Bob, Emily, Jim, Abby, Nathan, Laura, Violet, Chris & Ed

It’s very late now and I would like to write more but bed bekons. We were planning a rest day here tomorrow but have decided to carry on cycling as we love it so much.

Chris in easychair

Chris in practice for when he gets home.

Daily Mileage – 64.4 miles

Time in Saddle – 5 hrs 9 mins

Total Climbing – 3,441 ft

Day 37 – Murphysboro to Elizabethtown

Mon 12th July 2010

Last night I was unable to find my gore tex jacket. On the way back from the shop yesterday our box of breakfast cereal fell out of my pannier and I picked it up. I thought that maybe my jacket fell out at the same time but I didn’t see it on the road and Chris, who was not far behind me, didn’t see it either. This morning I checked the road all the way back to the shop with no joy. I now think I may not have packed it away when I took it off at the start of the day. Either way I have no coat for the rest of the ride. I hope the weather stays nice!

We still set off at 6:30am this morning with the intention of getting to Elizabethtown. The roads were reasonably good and we had some cloud cover as well as sunshine so the conditions were good for cycling. We even had a tail wind at times. It was still very humid though and felt hot whenever we stopped. Not far into the day we passed Adam who was cycling the other way. He set out from New York (his home town) and was heading west. We chatted to him for a while and he told us about good lodgings at the Baptist Church in Sebree. We plan to stay there tomorrow so it was good to hear his recommendation.


Adam from New York

We then met Ed another cyclist travelling in the same direction as us. He’s cycling up to Boston to see his son and was heading for the same place as us tonight.

The Illinois countryside is very well kept and was a pleasure to cycle through. I really enjoyed my day today (apart from having no jacket) on the bike and I thought it was quite a flat ride. Chris didn’t enjoy it at all and passed his day by counting the hills. The grand total was 146. So I guess that together with the total climbing today makes it a hilly day today after all. It’s funny how you don’t notice the hills when your enjoying yourself.

Longhorn Cattle

Caption competition!

We arrived in Elizabethtown at about 4:00pm and managed to get the very last room at the B&B. A group of 5 cyclists turning up later were disappointed not to get a room. The only other place, a hotel opposite, was also fully booked. Our B&B is fantastic and Sue & Bruce who run it our great. Because we want to leave early Sue is getting up to cook our breakfast. She asked if we like pancakes, bacon, sausages and fruit. Sounds good to me.

River Rose Inn

River Rose Inn B&B - Our home for tonight

They also recommended the local restaurant on the river. So we hooked up with Ed, the cyclist we met earlier, and headed down to try the local catfish. At the restaurant they had a special, as much as you can eat for $10. So we ate two big plates of catfish, baked beans, wedges and coleslaw. Ed then insisted on paying for our dinner so we hope we can repay him over the next few days. The food was excellent and the catfish was locally caught from the river. A memorable evening.

E Town's restaurant

The restaurant on the river. Some customers arrived by boat

Inside Etowns restaurant

Ed and Chris - full of catfish

Tomorrow we will have a short day, about 50 miles to Sebree. After Sebree there’s nothing for about 60 miles so it’s the sensible choice and will put us back on schedule again. Sue has just brought me a Bud Light, I like this place.

Daily Mileage – 990.2 miles

Time in Saddle – 7 hrs 48 mins

Total Climbing – 5,199 ft