Day 15: Being thoroughly soaked all day takes me on an emotional roller coaster - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

May 7, 2022

Day 15: Being thoroughly soaked all day takes me on an emotional roller coaster

Day 15 stats

Start: Booneville, Ky. (The pavilion shelter behind the Presbyterian Church)

End: Berea, Ky. (Warmshowers host Emily)

The Daily Progress: 51.06 miles

Elevation gain: 3,609 feet

Average speed: 8.8

Maximum speed: 32.0

Lodging expenses: $0

Food expenses: $51 (Food at a grocery store, a Subway sandwich, and dinner for myself and Emily at Noodle Nirvana,  which was truly nirvana)

Day 15 highlights

It was so wet today that I took zero photos.

It was so wet that I decided I could not afford to go have breakfast at the diner half a mile from where I had camped at the Presbyterian church in Booneville because I needed to try to cover some miles while there was a lull in the rain. So I had two packs of Belvitas for breakfast for the third day in a row.

It was so wet yesterday that my shoes and my "waterproof" socks were still thoroughly soaked when I woke up this morning despite the fact that I biked only 19 miles yesterday and was wearing my "waterproof" shoe covers the whole time. So that meant that my feet were wet the moment I put these things back on this morning sometime around 8:15. They would remain on my feet (and getting progressively wetter throughout the day) until 5:15 p.m. That's nine hours of wet feet.

It was so wet that I actually thought to myself this morning, "Maybe I don't want to do this. Maybe I'll quit when I reach St. Louis."

I wrote a very whiny email, in response to something Dani wrote me about camping in the rain, as I took a lunch break at a Subway, the only place in McKee that was open. But then I ate a sandwich and used the bathroom and dried out for a few minutes and my mood improved dramatically. (I wasn't kidding when I said in a previous blog entry that my mood is embarrassingly closely tied to how recently I have eaten.) I was riding through the rain today so that I could reach Berea, where I would stay inside tonight and take a zero day tomorrow. The reward would be worth this miserable day of riding.

Still, I am resolving to do a better job of using the weather to determine my zero days rather than relying so heavily on my interest in spending a day in a particular town. Honestly, both are good reasons not to ride, and I need to embrace them both.

Aside from the rain, there was a lot more dog drama today. Betsy, the dog who befriended me at the shelter at the Presbyterian church in Booneville, must not have a family, I figured. She spent the whole night with me in that shelter, sleeping under the picnic table directly below my hammock. It was kind of sweet and kind of sad that I had nothing to offer her (except for a couple of scraps of meat that I gave her out of my sandwich when I first arrived yesterday, because I wanted to thank her for being so nice and not barking or lunging at me like so many other dogs). But ever since this one kind gesture, I felt like maybe I'd done the wrong thing. I was weary about touching her and I had nothing else to feed her and nothing I could use to play with her. I tried to tell her this but of course she did not understand. She stayed with me, and I felt like I could not express to her that staying with me would only end in heartbreak. She barked at I-don't-know-what many, many times over the course of the night, waking me up. Maybe she was keeping raccoons away, so I guess I could be grateful, but I'd hung my food bag (and it's pathetically small contents) in a way that I doubt raccoons could have gotten to.

So, you know what's coming: I had to ride away from her this morning. She kept up with me for a ridiculously long time, probably a good mile or two, maybe longer. It actually felt a little dangerous for both of us; she kept running in front of me and then not going fast enough and I'd swerve to avoid her. I thought about whether to call an animal shelter but thought that, with all the loose dogs in this area, I couldn't imagine it generating any concern. And I guess I didn't actually know that she didn't belong to someone in that neighborhood, but as I think about it now, she probably would've gone home if she had one. Ugh, I probably should've called an animal shelter. I'm still torn. She was heartbreakingly persistent. I eventually found myself going downhill fast enough that Betsy couldn't keep up.

Ugh. I'll call a shelter in the morning, even though I'm probably too late now. But I can tell them I think she hangs out by the church. (If anyone reading this has a better idea, please let me know.)

So there was that experience on the one end of the dog-interaction spectrum, and then of course there were the mean dogs barking at me and chasing me. Thanks to some feedback on this very site, I was more careful about when to simply outrun them (only if going downhill) and when to take other action. 

One dog bit one of my panniers today but didn't cause any damage. Another larger dog came frighteningly close, so I dismounted and tried to talk to it in a friendly voice. That didn't help, and of course I got to experience the very dilemma that I thought would arise when you try to dismount and keep your bike between yourself and the dog. There are actually two dilemmas. First, if there are two or more dogs, well, good luck. In this case, it was just one dog, luckily. But the second dilemma is: How do you keep a 30-pound touring bike with almost 50 pounds of gear on it positioned between yourself and a dog that can simply run around the bike? I think I'm going to have to practice this maneuver. And buy some of the Halt dog spray immediately. (I'm finally in a town where I think I'll be able to find some!)

Aside from the occasional dog encounter, the rain was the real character of the day. After lunch, I had 24 miles to go (which prompts me to sing in my head "Sedated" by the Ramones), and I had to split it into three stretches of roughly eight miles each, with a break between each stretch just to sit under an overhang or something and drip until I was slightly less soaked and ready to get more soaked again. One stop was a self-serve car wash. The other seemed to be a former gas station-turned-farmers market that seemed like it might have been abandoned. Speaking of which, many, many structures in this region are in a state that makes me unsure if they are still being used or have been abandoned.

Eventually, finally, I made it to the home of my Warmshowers host, Emily, and I must've looked like a drowned rat. Emily gave me a cup of tea and I took a shower, and then we went to eat at Noodle Nirvana and — wow— was that the tastiest thing I've eaten in ... well, probably this whole trip so far. 

I'm relieved to have a bed to sleep on, under a roof, with walls around me. I doubt I could take such everyday comforts for granted again.

Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 692 miles (1,114 km)

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