Saturday, June 2, 2007

Owensboro, Kentucky

Today, we reached Owensboro, Kentucky. We are about 835 miles into the UGRR route, and have put a total of about 940 miles on the bikes since our departure from Mobile almost 3 weeks ago now.

Notable also is that with Owensboro, we have reached the end of the 2nd of the 5 map sections for the route. Starting tomorrow, we will be on map section #3. That one ends in Cincinnati! Still just a rough plan right now, but we think we have about 9 more days of travel and at least one more off day before reaching Cincinnati.

Ok, a quick update of the days since we left Grand Rivers.

Thursday, May 31: We left Grand Rivers early in the morning, traveling out on a road which was much busier than expected, but soon that gave way to the small, rural, low-traffic roads that we want to see. It was great riding, except that it was a day of intermittent drizzle and light rain showers most of the way. At Carrsville, we hit the Ohio River, and we had to stop and note that symbolic moment. Across that river was the objective of freedom that all those people traveling the Underground Railroad 150+ years ago were striving for. On bikes, it was a long way, so we can only imagine what that trip felt like to those who had to travel secretly on foot, by night.

As it turns out, we actually crossed the river this day. The only place to spend the night was on the Illinois side of the river, in a town called Cave-in-Rock. We reached it by taking a ferry across the river, thereby adding a 5th state to our biking saga, and completing 52 miles for the day. And we found that this town has quite a history. There is a large, impressive cave in the rock cliffs there overlooking the river, from which the town derives its name. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, a very ruthless band of outlaws used that cave as their base for river piracy. They would intercept river travelers, take them to the cave where, if the travelers were lucky, they would simply be robbed. A large number were apparently murdered in that cave. Now the entire place is a state park, and the movie "How the West was Won" was filmed in part here and immortalized this historical fact. What a difference a couple of centuries makes!

The other interesting event of that day is that while waiting for the ferry on the Kentucky side, another bike traveler pulled up behind us. His name is Chris, and in between the end of his Peace Corps assignment and the start of a job hunt, he decided to cross the U.S. (East to West) on a bike, by himself. He left Yorktown, Virginia about the time we left Mobile, and hopes to make the Oregon or Washington coast by early August. We enjoyed spending some time with him talking, comparing notes, and appreciating the fact that his trip is about twice as long as ours.

Friday, June 1: We took the ferry back across the river into Kentucky, and resumed our route. We went 38 miles to Morganfield, KY where we spent the night. We had intended to go further, but hit a humongous hill in the morning, probably the steepest and toughest we've encountered yet, and we found ourselves wiped out by about 1 pm.

Saturday, June 2 (today): We traveled from Morganfield to Owensboro, a total of about 64 miles. A longer day than usual, but the terrain was mostly flat, so it was easier for us to do. However, it was very hot and muggy, and we went through almost all of our water and Gatorade by the time we arrived. Also, when we were about 6 miles out from Owensboro, a line of what looked like squalls hit the area, with lightning and thunder in the distance. We never got more than a short light rain, but were greeted with sudden tremendous headwinds as the weather front moved through. Those final few miles took a lot of effort, and we were very happy when we reached the hotel!

OK, so bottom line, we continue to make good progress and are doing well, albeit having some days in which we feel pretty beat. Tomorrow we start with our new map, showing the next 400 miles of the route, the final panel of which is the city of Cincinnati and home. That looks pretty good to us!

As always, thanks to everyone for the emails, comments, and overall expressions of support!


jim said...

Mike & Joan,

Really loved bike touring with you in NE Mississippi and south Tennessee.

Thanks for including us on your big trip. We learned so much about touring. I particularly loved seeing the small towns by bike - Abeerdeen and Amory - were very nice.

I'm ready for more! Not sure we can swing it but Mary & I hope to do another tour in the next year.

Cinncinati or bust!!!!

Keep us posted on the blog!

Jim Chamberlain

Nancy said...

Fantastic! 2 maps down – what an accomplishment! Still in awe of your spirit and determination.

Keep pedaling!


Nancy and Bruce

Mike said...

As you know, we loved it too!!! I hope you guys do get the chance to do another tour. The one in Alabama sounds like fun. And yes, maybe we can find a way to do one together again. Thanks again!

Mike said...

Nancy & Bruce,
Thanks for all of your positive and supportive comments! We're looking forward to getting together again at our next "reunion"!