Day 12: Feeling like a beast - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

May 4, 2022

Day 12: Feeling like a beast

Just before leaving Time Out Pizza & Grill in Hindman, I appreciated this view of the fog lifting off the Russell Fork River. From the distance, it's blowing into town, toward the camera and through the hills to the left. As it rises off the river in the right, it blends in with the clouds in the sky, making it seem like the clouds have sunk down to ground level.
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Day 12 stats

Start: Elkhorn City, Ky. (Time Out Pizza & Grill)

End: Hindman, Ky. (the old First Baptist Church, listed on Google as First Baptist Cycle Hostel)

The Daily Progress: 63.57 miles

Elevation gain: 4,537 feet (I have no idea if these elevation numbers are accurate at all. I'm using the numbers from my GPS device, which I'm trusting more than the Adventure Cycling Association's app because the app said it would be around 6,000-7,000 feet of climbing, and I'm sure it wasn't that much.)

Average speed: 9.8 mph

Maximum speed: 38.9 mph

Lodging expenses: $0! Thanks, First Baptist Church Cycle Hostel. Actually, since there is no business here to patronize, I'll make a donation to the youth program here.

Food expenses: $31.50 (8 for breakfast at coffee shop in Elkhorn, 3.50 for a little food at the Dollar General, 4 for allergy drugs, 3.50 for ice cream, 2.50 for snacks at a small store east of Hindman, 10 at the supermarket)

Day 12 highlights & ramblings

Before we get to today, last night was pretty exciting. And I do mean exciting, not scary, which is probably how it will sound. Thanks to the Weather Channel app, I knew thunderstorms were coming, so I grabbed Blue and one of my panniers and abandoned my hammock where I was camping near the river behind the pizza place, and I went up onto the pizzeria's covered balcony. Sure enough, at about 8:45 p.m., just as the app predicted, an extremely windy and wet thunderstorm plowed through town, blowing rain in sideways, knocking trash cans around and, with a loud bang and two flashes of fireworks, blew up an electrical box or something right across the street, knocking out power for all the buildings on the corner, including the pizza shop. It felt like something out of a movie. And oddly, as if I were watching a movie, it didn't faze me. When the rain stopped, I went down, discovered with great relief that my hammock hadn't flipped upside-down and the rain fly did its job and kept everything inside it — my sleeping bag and all my clothes — dry. Phew! I got back in, spoke to Dani on the phone and went to sleep. Another storm came through, but with much less drama. Well, except for that brief moment when I heard the sound of a freight train and I thought, "oh, no! Isn't that what people say tornadoes sound like?" But no, it really was a freight train.

The rain fly continued to do its job. I slept soundly.

This morning, once the rain stopped, I got out of the hammock, took it down from the trees and carried everything up to the pizzeria's balcony and cobbled all my things together. I really needed a bathroom but of course the pizzeria was all locked up and not open yet. None of this was a surprise. The real surprise was how much I needed to go. Just stay focused, I told myself. Get your things together and go to the coffee shop down the street. So I packed up and got going. The urgency subsided. I was gonna be okay.

As I pulled up to the coffee shop, a man on a bench outside made a sarcastic joke about something I was doing on my bike being illegal. He asked me where I was from and immediately said something disparaging about D.C. What is it about people just dying to tell me all the awful reasons they hate my city? Well, with this guy it was about the federal government and he said he worked for the government at one time and pointed to his baseball cap, which said "VETERAN" on it. He changed the subject and encouraged me to get a sandwich at the coffee shop, which was exactly my plan and a good excuse to get back to the task at hand.

I ordered a coffee and a sandwich but was sad to see no bathroom. I scarfed down breakfast, chugged my coffee, said thank you — and the woman running the coffee shop asked me to put a pin on the map on the wall. She's been keeping track of where all the travelers come from, and uses different colored pins to mark cyclists, hikers, ATV riders and other travelers. What a way to make a guy feel welcome! How nice. I placed my pin; she took my photo; and finally I ask where I can find a bathroom, not expecting that there even was one in this very small shop. She directed me to the Dollar General about a half-mile back up the road.

Oh, Dollar General. I have seen more Dollar General stores than any other chain on this trip (although Subway can't be far behind). I walked in and went straight to the bathroom. With that finally out of the way, I felt that I needed to buy something even if I really didn't want to. I grabbed three pouches of fruit snacks for a dollar, plus one of those small cans of Pringles. 

Now that I had all that out of the way, I sat on the curb and took my morning sunscreen bath and, while doing so, noticed a drug store across the street. Okay, I've been sneezing up a storm the past couple of days; it's time to buy some allergy drugs. I'm not going to get another opportunity this easily. What the heck, maybe I could just run errands all morning and start the 62 miles of biking I planned for today after lunch! I walk into the store, find what I'm looking for, pay, walk out, take one of the pills, throw it in a pannier, mount the bike and finally hit the road. 

It's only 9:40 a.m. Nice! I've left later than this. And I can cover 62 miles after 10 a.m. — no problem!

Plus, these morning side trips led me to have to go past the pizzeria again from the other side, which gave me a good look from across the river. That was such a cool place to camp.

This view shows the river in the foreground and, behind it, the pizza shop, with a balcony on the side facing the river and a long staircase down to the sandy shore.
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Okay, for real this time, let's get going! And off I go. The weather is perfect — no need for my cycling jacket today! The asphalt is firm and smooth. Google Maps had said the route included a steep hill. The elevation chart looked bad. But I've done days with lots of climbing before on previous bike tours. This didn't look much worse than other days this week. Let's do this!

To make a long story short, it was not bad! Yes, there were some long climbs, but not once did I ask myself, "Is this self-torture?" It was all definitely Type 2 fun. There were some really fun descents after reach climb. (Fun = steep and fast.) They were so much fun, in fact, that I could tell that I had worn down the brake pads a bit and I tightened up the brakes a bit after the third big descent. 

I don't think I mentioned it on this blog yet, but every time I approach the top of a big climb, the beginning of the "Mission: Impossible" theme song stats playing in my head and then it hits full crescendo as I start flying down the hill. My mind associates the fast downhill cycling with the ridiculous high-speed motorcycle riding that Tom Cruise does in more than one of the "Mission: Impossible" movies. The theme song was playing in my head pretty much all day. Which means it was a great day. Of course, the version playing in my head slowed way, way down when I had to climb again, and eventually it started incorporating banjo playing, given my totally unwarranted assumptions about what music sounds like in Kentucky. 

This view near the top of a big climb shows a deep valley between lush green mountains in the distance. A thin line tree and a telephone pole stand in the foreground, flanking the view of the valley.
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And, when I'm not flying downhill, I pedal and pedal and pedal and pedal! I stop to eat a snack. I stop for ice cream. I stop to buy snacks. I start to think seriously about what I'm doing on this trip and what I'm doing with my life. I will write about these thoughts in time, once they've taken clearer shape. 

I notice lots of campaign signs on yards everywhere. I didn't even know that jailer or coroner we're even elected offices. And lots and lots and LOTS of signs urged me to "Re-elect Calvin WADDLES, Magistrate, District 4."

I saw so many signs for Mr. Waddles that I really started to wish there were more information or at least a slogan on his signs. Why, dear sir, should I re-elect you?

So, based on the very limited information available, I came up with possible slogans for him:

  • Get the energy of Calvin and the thoughtfulness of Hobbes. Re-elect Calvin Waddles.
  • Vote for the status quo! Re-elect Calvin Waddles.
  • Clearly the most experienced — he already has the job. Let Waddles keep doing it.
  • Calvin Waddles. He's a straight shooter, just a little shifty when he walks.
  • Weedles Waddles But He Don't Fall Down!

Okay, I know making fun of someone's name is not cool. I'm sorry. I just had too little information to work with and a lot of time to pedal and notice these signs that gave no actual reason to support this candidate. This is where my mind went.

And through all these silly thoughts, I pedal and pedal and pedal! Over those hills, zoom down into another valley, wave some cars past me and on and on and finally I reach the old church-turned-youth group meeting place and bicycle hostel where I'm staying tonight. 

Somewhere in between all the pedaling, I called to confirm that the ACA map was correct and that I could sleep there. Well, now here I am and the kids at the door are waving me in. "This is the place! You can come right in! You can roll your bike right in here!" Nice! Let's say grace, have some pizza, here's where you can shower and do laundry and — how did all this happen so easily?

I think I've found my groove.

Today's ride: 64 miles (103 km)
Total: 572 miles (921 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Laila AzzouzYour campaign slogans were pretty funny, especially the reference to Calvin and Hobbes. 😊
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3 months ago
Chris GeorgeTo Laila AzzouzHaha, thanks! But you probably shouldn't encourage me. 😉
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3 months ago