Day 17, to Harrodsburg: Such a gorgeous day to ride, but is my body rejecting this lifestyle? - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

May 9, 2022

Day 17, to Harrodsburg: Such a gorgeous day to ride, but is my body rejecting this lifestyle?

The mailbox in front of the house that I believe belonged to Donna, whom I met today, has a blue circular patch attached to the post that says "BICYCLE FRIENDLY." Behind it are blue skies dotted with a few puffy white clouds, and lush green grass.
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Day 17 stats

Start: Berea, Ky. (Warmshowers host Emily)

End: Harrodsburg, Ky. (Anderson-Dean Community Park)

The Daily Progress: 55.09 miles, not including a 6.5-mile side trip (without hauling all my gear) to CVS

Elevation gain: 3,110 feet

Average speed: 10.8 mph

Maximum speed: 42.1 mph

Lodging expenses: $0

Food expenses: $8.99

Medical expenses: ~$26.50

Day 17 highlights

Holy cow, was today gorgeous. It was so perfect that it almost makes me forget what a mess Friday and Saturday (Days 14 and 15) were. 

Not only was the weather perfect but the terrain was also very agreeable. The hills were more "rolling" than they have been for many days. No long climbs. 

I met another TransAm cyclist today after I had breakfast at the artisan center in Berea; her name was Julie. It was cool to see someone who had really been churning through the states and to get a few more tips about what's in store in the next few days. I was surprised by how much she was carrying; she had four panniers, a handlebar bag, plus a duffel bag and something else on top of the rear panniers. I looked at my two panniers and the tent on my rear rack and felt both proud of how tightly I had packed and mildly concerned. Am I going to regret not having certain things? Well, if so, I can buy them. So far, so good.

The dogs ... okay, there were still dogs running after me today, but they were not as bad as the past few days.

I came across an amazing rest stop in Lancaster, Ky., called the Bluegrass Texas Longhorns Ranch, where a sign urged me to "REST" and a woman named Donna in a white SUV also rolled by and told me the same. Then she offered me a brownie and went off to get it from her house, which was next door. She came back shortly with brownies and a small loaf of frozen banana bread for me.

A white sign, seen at right, caught my attention as I rode up. It displays a bicycle icon and the word "REST." At left is the wooden shelter, which includes a table, two chairs and a small cooler with bottled water.
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The shelter itself was a little roof over a concrete pad, which Donna said used to be the floor of a small cow-milking operation before she and her husband bought the land. She sat with me at a table under the shelter while I devoured the brownies and explained that they didn't know they lived along the TransAmerica Trail until one cyclist stopped under a tree in front of their house to get some shade, and they talked to him and then decided they could offer much more than a tree. They now have, in addition to the shelter, a solar-heated shower and a composting outhouse, which is filled with free items for cyclists such as inner tubes and sunglasses. I was in awe.

The solar-heated shower stands behind an old house, which Donna says she plans to knock down eventually. For now, a water reservoir is visible on the roof to feed into the shower, which looks like a complete fiberglass shower outlines that you'd install in an indoor bathroom. There's a bottle of soap or shampoo on the shelf inside the shower, and a shower curtain for privacy.
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I pedalled onward, hoping to reach Harrodsburg. Yesterday, I'd planned to stop before then, but as I went to bed last night, I could not ignore an itch, and I realized that a bug bite that I had almost two weeks ago was getting much worse. It must have gotten infected, and maybe I'll need an antibiotic or something. I chastised myself for not thinking about this and doing something about it on my zero day in Berea yesterday. I decided I would get to Harrodsburg, which was 50 miles away and go straight to an urgent care clinic there, rather than wait for one to open in Berea this morning. 

That plan worked perfectly, but some things the doctor said made me see some risks of this lifestyle more clearly. My main concern did turn out to be an infection, cellulitis. It was a risky combination of sweat and sunscreen and not having a shower every single day (although I have gotten five or six showers each week). And I'm sure wearing the same clothes every day hasn't helped, although they've been laundered as often as I've showered. It's unclear whether the initial infection got in there because of a bug bite, but I was strongly encouraged to use bug spray with feet because the ticks around here are so so bad. On top of this infection, which is on my upper leg, there is also a possibility that my skin on my hands is having a reaction to the sunscreen. How perfect.

I walked out with three prescriptions — a cream, an ointment and a powder — for the infection on my leg. I went to check out the park where I planned to camp and then went to CVS to pick up the prescriptions and bug spray. Back at the park, after dinner, I went into the bathroom and did my best to clean off using a sink and a washcloth. I feel cleaner but not as clean as if I'd had a proper shower. I think I'll make a point to stay somewhere with a shower tomorrow, even if it means a motel. If anyone's wondering about my aversion to motels, it's just that, when bike touring, there's a sense of adventure that, for me, usually means camping and staying in more unusual places. But I guess hygiene is going to have to take priority.

For now, I'm enjoying swaying in my hammock on a perfect evening.

Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 747 miles (1,202 km)

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