Day 17 - Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Total to date: 1033.67 miles
Moving time: 4 hr 59 min.
Average Speed: 14.1 mph
Total ascent: 3326 ft.
Minimum elevation: 388 ft.
Maximum elevation: 674 ft.
Ending elevation: 494 ft.
Wind: Light, variable breezes.
Weather: 75°F in the morning with a high dew point; got up to 90°F. Mostly cloudy in the morning, partly cloudy in the afternoon. One heck of a thunderstorm brewing right now (7:00pm)
Today I started to calculate a new piece of data using the Garmin MapSource software I have with me. I'm calling it linearity. It's a factor that allows me to look at the relationship between how far I've traveled versus how far I've traveled. What? Yes - I want to compare the distance I actually travel (including all the turns) to the straight line distance between starting and ending points. To give you an idea of what I mean, I'm exaclty 606.5 miles from Yorktown, VA (my starting point), but I've had to travel 1033.67 miles to get here. If I divide those two numbers, I come up with a ratio between the two distances. If the traveling is perfectly straight, it is a factor of 1.00. If the traveling is so bad that I end up at the same place I started, it is a factor of 0.00. So... my overall linearity is .59 right now. That's not too great but it will get better when I'm in Kansas where the linearity is going to be better than .90. Today's linearity was .80 which is the highest so far. The lowest was on day 3 when the linearity was only .52.
I got an early start again today. It was mostly cloudy but very humid and quite warm (75° F). I wish it would cool down at night but the locals say that it usually doesn't in the summer. There is a storm brewing right now and that might cool things down.
It was a good day of riding through mostly rolling terrain. I could ride like this the rest of the way and not complain! I did a 70 mile day today and had the urge to keep riding but stopped about 2:00pm. I took a nap for an hour or so under a pavilion at the Sebree Springs Park, got up, went for a swim at the pool (free for bikers!), and had dinner. The next town is 45 miles from here and that just seemed a little too far to add to the 70 miles I already did. Besides, the threat of thunderstorms is real today (and they are here now).
The terrain and some of the valleys remind me of the Nittany Valley in central Pennsylvania where I'm from. It's the first place that looks sort of familiar. The other thing that makes it like home is the large Mennonite population. They seem to be far more liberal than the Amish around Central PA.
One unique thing around these parts that us Central Pennsylvanians don't get to see is a horizon. In some places, it is just plain flat and one has a 360-degree unobstructed view of the horizon. It is nice.
I stopped for breakfast at Dianna's Country Cafe in Fordsville, KY where I had her "Hungry Workin' Man's Breakfast" which consisted of two eggs, ham, home fries (huge serving), and toast for $3.95. What a deal! The air conditioning alone is worth $3.95...
It's a little hard to breathe sometimes with such high humidity. I'm not having any particular problems, it just feels like I'm breathing water. The air is just plain moist and I'm expecting it to continue through Missouri. Kansas should be a little more arid, especially in the western end of the state.
I took some pictures of some flowers along side the road today. I guess the scenery hasn't changed much for a few days and thought that the flowers would be a different thing to document. There are all sorts of wild flowers of all shapes and colors that grow along the road here. They aren't the artificially planted wildflowers like we have along highways in Pennsylvania - put in by road crews and conservation organizations. These flowers truly grow wild here and extend into the woods and pastures for some distance. I'd like to say these are daisys but I know some botanical guru will point out that I'm wrong so here are "flowers." [My friend, Madelyn Wagner, later e-mailed me to tell me these are black eyed Susans.]
There's a big Tyson poultry operation in this community. They hatch and raise chickens here. Perhaps they process them too but I didn't see any indication of that. I saw some old school buses that had been modified to hold cages full of chickens coming out of the hatchery. It was a pretty unusual site. They were driving them somewhere - I suppose to a feed lot. I did see quite a few chicken and hog feed lots along my trip today. There was a new hog or chicken barn complex under construction in Sebree. It consisted of five parallel barns that were about 50 feet wide and at least 150 yards long. Here's a picture of a "hatchery" that Tyson has.
There's a large coal fired power plant just outside Sebree. They bring their coal in by barge from the Ohio river to the local waterway. I saw dozens of barges lining the river.
I stayed at Sebree Springs Park in Sebree, KY. It's the city park and they have some softball fields, a pool, pavillions, and running water. The pool house has warm showers and they left it open for the night for me to use. The lifeguard staff was very friendly and accomodating - they provided good directions out of town (I hope) and let me swim and stay for free. I met a prisoner here who is on work release. He was a different sort of fellow - about 25 years old and was weedeating for $1.50 per day. He said he doesn't do it for the money - he does it for the fresh air and to get out of jail for the day. I have a feeling they pay him more than that but have no doubt that he's a criminal. Someone needs to show him how to run a weed whip too because he was doing a slow, poor job with it.
A boy from the farm up the road stopped by for a chat. He says he stops down and talks to TransAm bikers all the time. He was very curious about my recumbent bike and had all sorts of questions about the gear. I had to give him a short geography lesson - I pulled out the maps - because he says he's never been outside Kentucky. The "big trip" his family takes is the 50 mile expedition to the Wal-Mart and Lowe's every few weeks and he looks forward to it. He thought I was from England because "I talk sorta funny." I suppose my accent is much different than people around here. If he truly doesn't get out much then he probably does think that I'm from some other place.
My appetite must be back because I ate the most disgusting chicken salad sandwich of my life - and finished the whole thing. I know that I'm becoming leaner - I've lost a good amount of fat (not that I had a lot to start with) and am generally leaner and much stronger. My appetite is back up and I'm eating well. My legs never burn when riding up hills but I do feel fatigue toward the end of the day. I never "hit the wall" or "bonk" which is good. I've read of people who do and am glad that I'm in good enough shape not to. By the end of this trip I'll be a lean, mean riding machine.
Camping fee: FREE (Thanks, Sebree!)