Thursday, June 25, 2009

"You guys are nuts!"

Day 21 - June 24, 1 day late

My morning routine is getting better. Sean gave me a pointer about packing up all my stuff the night before and I'm glad that that whole process is becoming less of an issue in this trip. Also if you think about it, in our worlds of cradled stability, its just really cool to be able to pack and unpack your entire belongings every single day.

The morning started out with a 17 mile coffee break at this cute little town at a place called Lock and Key. It was an old bank with the vault still intact(so cool!) that was this super fair trade, sustainable, homey shop. At 8:30am i proceeded to have a Strawberry milkshake. Still can't figure out whether i should be concerned about that.

We were on a main road pretty much all day so while there were way more towns and things to see along the way, the traffic was pretty heavy for the first part of the day. During the last few miles as we approached Downtown Louisville during rush hour it was pretty uncomfortable riding. For all those NYCers, it was basically the equivalent of riding on Northern Blvd due west.

While we are all very conscious of being to the side of the road, almost everyone had cars honking at them angrily all morning. Highlight: At one point this car in the opposite lane was driving by and this typical middle aged lady sticks her head out of the window and yells "YOU GUYS ARE NUTS" at the top of her lungs with a healthy dose of condescension. We all couldn't help but laugh and get pumped up by it. We're glad to know that its not just us who think we're crazy.

Early in the day we saw a llama! Despite my best efforts i couldnt get it to run with me but still, it was a llama! in the middle of kentucky! so cool. There was also yet another tin man that Jenny and I came across along with the rusted frame of an old ATV. Andy by these two things i mean the perfect photo op.

The riding was a bit more hilly than yesterday but you could tell that people were starting to get used to 86 mile rides as just another day in the life which is good news. What people are not quite used to is the heat of which there was much of. I heard rumors that it had reached above 90+ at some points. You actually feel it less when cycling than when walking due to the breeze but when we were stopped at traffic lights around 4pm we may as well have been in a sauna wrapped in sweaters.

Passing through Frankfort was sorta cool. We got to promontory with a good view of the capital. Just that one hill sent tingling memories of West Virginia. It's always funny i thought how state capitals aren't necessarily that state's most prestigious and funnest cities. It's almost like governance is boring or something.

Since today was our night off we had also decided for it to be Bike and Buiild Prom, aka find the craziest clothes you can at thrift stores and wear them out. Colin, Carlos and I legit crossed six lanes of traffic to get to a goodwill. I was able to snag basically a pair of red polyester genie pants. Note i actually realized that there were some really decent clothes in the store that were simple and modest. There was even this awesome abercrombie and fitch jean jacket that i totally would've nabbed had the size been right.

Near us i realized there was a normal looking couple who had been invited to a wedding and were looking for appropriate clothes. I could've very well imagined seeing them in a Macy's yet they were looking amongst the $3 rack. There was also one of those sweet acrylic back massage things that i think will be put to very good use on this trip. To be totally honest, i felt really slapped in the face when i realized that this very respectable couple along with others in the store were looking for actual clothes while i was just looking for silly garments for a party. It was just kind of humbling in a big sense to realize concretely the way different people treat resources differently according to their situations. I don't think this necessarily registers with us as we so often get caught up in our own universe of possibilities, without the ability to get a fresh perspective.

Some highlights from the night's costumes included reversible leather-leapord skin jackets, a victorian dress, a 70's jumpsuit and all other types of silliness. We all went out to the main commercial nightlife strip of Louisville which was very Times Square-esque. They even somehow had an air conditioned street for one block! These commercial stores were so gimmicky and we soon left to a more local joint. But not before finding out that there is a free MSTRKRFT concert there tomorrow night. My whole face and personality blew up the moment this guy told me about it. I haven't been to a concert in so long, let alone an awesome electronica one that i know will be great. I was and am so so pumped. I've been especially bummed since this trip won't let me see Depeche Mode's tour this summer.

Tomorrow's our first day off which means we do whatever we want. We wake up and go whenever and wherever. I'd like to hit up the Louisville slugger museum and check out some really cool streets that i was recommended. I love exploring new cities, hope it delivers.

Pronounced "A late one"

Day 20 - June 23. 10:10pm

93 miles. Portsmouth, OH to Paris, KY

Probably one of the best mornings yet. We were on the road by seven and the mist added a cool effect. Right before crossing the Ohio River to enter Kentucky we went to check out the Portsmouth Flood Gate murals. Its this .5 mile stretch of floodwalls that trace the history of portsmouth in huge murals. Each one in itself was overwhelming and having about 50 of them was out of this world. My favorite was the very first one showing some kind of weird crop circles which is supposedly Portsmouth at the beggining of time or something. Talk about modest beginnings...They were also totally pristine and graffiti free. Major props to Ohio for that awesome public artwork.

The bridge crossing the ohio river has been our coolest yet, it was one of those A designs and just really pleasant to cross with no car traffic. Right on the other side was our welcome sign into Kentucky, which had a way too long web address. You would think it would simply be but it was really or something like that. The whole concept of crossing into states has been kinda wierd in general since it all blends together after a while.

The roads were great though and the Kentucky scenery was really beautiful with its gentle green hills and pastures. At one point there was this awesome red exposed wall of rock on the side of the highway. We made super great time and flew 40 miles all the way into lunch. The day off had really re-energized all of us and we were totally feeling it. Larry and I stuck together the whole day. He was great as always, such a cool dude, Had some good conversation about music, and learned he played the euphonium. I also learned that there is such a thing as a euphonium.

By the second lunch the sun had def started having its way. It's cool though since this soda delivery guy apparently decided to donate several cases of cola to our group. First of all i love regional specialties. This was a cola called Ale - 8 - 1 pronounced "A late one" that's native to Kentucky. The story behind the name still doesn't make sense but it is a ginger drink and I love it.

The riding is great though I wouldn't mind more fun things to do along the way. Most of the time we're literally in the middle of nothingness, as beautiful as it is. Paris is a nice little time which is apparently the land of "Horses, homes, and hospitality" in that order. Could we even think of 3 more awesome words to describe a place?

We're staying at a YMCA tonight and upon arriving we all celebrated our longest day yet(92 miles) with a pool party and some fun diving. Afterwards 14 guys piled into the less than 14 person sauna. Things def got steamy in there.

For dinner we all went out to this decent Chinese restaurant for some MSG goodness in what was yes, the tallest three story building in the world. Again, we ate dinner in the tallest three story building in the world in Paris, Kentucky. Life is great. Also, Colin Hood explained to use that in Asian cultures it is considered crass to hold your chopsticks close to the bottom and the higher up you hold them the more you are respected. My fortune cookie for the night stated: "You are about to pass a difficult test" Deep and personally relevant as always...

Tomorrow is another 5am day and 80ish miles but i'm pumped for Louisville. Hopefully i can pick up a baseball bat (really useful when biking i know), We have our first day off there which will be much welcomed.