Fourth day on the road - Touring on an electrified Crank Forward bike - CycleBlaze

July 15, 2021

Fourth day on the road

First 60 mile day

I did it. Today I rode 60 miles. Started at about 9 AM from the Best Western in Barbourville and finished at The Rodeway Inn in Mount Vernon at about 5:30 PM. The ride from Barbourville to Corbin was good but,in Corbin I felt tired after only 20 miles which took me about two and a half hours of riding. I stopped at McDs in Corbin and had a sandwich and coffee. That helped a lot.

I knew the ride to London on 25 was going to be stressful and I hoped the road edge problems which had made it very dangerous the last time I rode it had been at least patched. It turned out that they were mostly 'patched' by adding a shoulder to the road edge, sometimes without even patching the crumbled edge, and mostly creating a shoulder which was rideable, even if that usually meant riding on the lousy rumble strip that covered most of the added shoulder. The real problem was the heavy traffic, which included many large trucks - semis - and several wide loads which were wider than the lane.

It was stressful riding because the error margins riding on sometimes broken pavement and dodging pot holes with semi loads a foot or two away from my shoulder moving 20 or 30 mph faster than I could were not large. The Truck drivers were trying as hard as I was not to create a problem, but given the poor pavement and the heavy traffic levels, it was not something I enjoyed or a route I could recommend.

Riding into the trashy southern part of London helped because the speeds were slower and some of the traffic diverted at the first opportunity to get over to I-75. Things improved again after the second exit to I-75. I think there was a place I could have stopped for the night at that I-75 exit, but I'm not sure and I can't check right now because my Chromebook and the wifi where I'm staying has some security disagreement when they tried to establish a wifi connection. My phone had no problem, but I won't do this on my phone and I won't be able to upload this until tomorrow morning at the nearby McDs.

When I finally entered the old part of London it was much more pleasant riding and although the great bike shop that was there many years ago is still gone, the local motel where I once stayed long ago is still there and looking good.  At that point, the sun was shining, I'd only ridden 35 miles, and it was another 25 miles of mostly very nice riding to Mount Vernon. The not so nice part of that ride comes in the last 8 or 9 of those 25 miles when, after passing through the town of Livingston, I would have to climb out of that deep valley to get to Mount Vernon. I think I'd done that ride three or four times and my memories of that climb were not good. However, having e-assist seemed likely to make that climb feel a lot easier. So I cranked on down, which was mostly up at the point, the road.

In a mile or two I came to a sign saying 23 miles to Mount Vernon. At that point I had ridden 37 miles so that confirmed, as expected, that getting to Mount Vernon would meet my goal of doing a 60 mile day. After crossing over I-75 twice at bridges where the second lane for US 25E is being added, I have hopes that I may someday ride this route without having to deal with that dangerous Corbin to London section. Of course it is not realistic to expect that will actually happen in my lifetime.

There is a huge new Wilderness Adventure Cycle Park being built - really expanded - on and alongside US 25 as it plunges down into the river valley in the US Forest/Park There is a serious hiil or two on the way down and then a lot of very peaceful riding on a good road with very little traffic where I rode without assist for any miles. The shoulders are pretty much non-existent and what little shoulder there is  is rumble stripped into uselessness but, at least today, the very light traffic was all very polite to me.

The most unusual experience I had on that section was being overtaken by a long freight train. On hearing something coming from behind me, I started looking for trucks. The noises grew louder, but nothing was coming on the road. Eventually my brain realized that those were train, not truck, noises. pretty soon I started looking for train cars, but it was a long time - half an hour? -before I actually saw any. I first glimpsed the cars through trees on the other side of a field a few hundred yards away. Not long after that I realized that those trees may have also been on the other side of the river that runs down the valley.

Finally, about the time that I rode into Livingston, I saw some evidence of a train station. I had forgotten about Livingston. Despite having ridden through it every time I've ridden this route! It is a nice small town with limited, but useful services.

After Livingston, the climb started. It was also not what I expected. It had some sections that were steeper than Thorn Hill, but it didn't have really long steep grades. Instead, it would climb steeply, then level out for a while, then climb steeply again. Using my gearing and my bike's assist, I would climb at 5 mph in the second level of assist - Thorn Hill climbing - then gradually shift into higher gears and lower levels of assist till I would be doing 10 mph with no assist and that cycle repeated many times. Finally, near the top of the hill where 25 crossed under I-75. I actually needed to use the third level of assist for brief periods alternating with the second level in my bikes lowest gear 32 front and 36 rear.

At the top of that hill, I was in Mount Vernon and there were signs warning trucks of 7 percent downhill. There were no warning signs for trucks going the other way, perhaps because the really steep section was relatively short and almost all big trucks turned onto I-75 in the middle of that section.

The 7% section for me was a nice, long, 35 mph downhill, verifying my rough rule of thumb that downhill speeds are, for me, 20 mph, 25mph, 30 mph, and 35 mph corresponds to 4%, 5%, 6% and 7% slopes.

After the slope eased up there was an intersection where 25 turned right and 159, my route for tomorrow continued straight. I turned right and headed downhill on 25. There  is a local 'snack shop' where I stopped for much needed food and rest. Then I continued on downhill through Mount Vernon to the McDs at the bottom of that road where I stopped for wifi and coffee. The map showed an inexpensive Roadway motel nearby.

As I climbed the road and went around a curve before I could see the motel, I realized it was a motel I already knew about, but had never used because it was up a steep drive and my tired legs had always said "No way I'm climbing that!" before I rode on to my standard days Inn motel a little further down the road.

This time I climbed that hill using my third level of e-assist, the one I use unloaded for 20% grades on my recreational rides in Asheville. This motel is both nicer and cheaper than that Days Inn!  The cost was the same as one night in Tazewell but the room is much closer to last night's Best Western which cost twice as much!  

Easy riding on 25E heading for Corbin
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My display showing 7.6 miles ridden
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First sign for Mount Vernon. after London and shortly before first I-75 crossing
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MUCH LATER on the final climb showing a side road crossing the railroad
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The third, last, and steepest I-75 crossing near Mount Vernon
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In Mount Vernon, before heading down into town
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Today's ride: 60 miles (97 km)
Total: 138 miles (222 km)

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Adam KanczulaMark, how was your battery life after the 60 miles that you rode? Or do you use a spare battery?
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2 years ago