Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 112 ~ Coal Country

Saying goodbye to Linda's B & B in Booneville, KY


Resting after Mommy's little episode

I had the MOUNTAIN MAN SPECIAL for lunch today.

Log Cathedral in Buckhorn

Gregory makes another kitty friend as we talk to Sonny about how the "tree huggers" are trying to stop mountain top removal...

This little guy wants to come along.

Mountain Top Removal

Mike and Gregory make friends with Blackjack this coal community dog.

Can you spell relief? J-A-C-U-Z-Z-I

Date: November 8, 2009

From: Booneville, Kentucky ~ Linda's Victorian B & B

To: Hazard, Kentucky

Route: Hwy. 28 to Hwy. 15

Miles Today: 46 miles

TOTAL MILES: 3,201 miles

Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: 70s and Sunny ~ More Shorts Weather

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana, 8 Wyoming (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho (found in WY), 2 Colorado, 1 Kansas (Gifted from David of Baldwin City), 1 Missouri (To be sent to Grammy’s by our new buddy, Kansas City firefighter Shawn), 1 Illinois, 4 Kentucky (2 Gifted from Beth and Garry Feltus, one gifted from cousin John, one from Hwy. 127)

Flats: 9

Broken Spokes: 3

Cracked Rim: 1

"COAL. IT KEEPS THE LIGHTS ON" is on bumper stickers, signs, etc. It is the message they want to convey around these parts. Coal is one of the main industries in Kentucky. We were talking to Sonny, a local we happened to meet on the side of the road as we stopped in front of his parent's little store and one pump gas station, and he didn't seem too pleased that the "tree huggers" were fighting against mountain top removal. (Coal mining often removes the top of entire mountains.) He claimed his county was one of the poorest in Kentucky (we've heard this claim about other counties also…) and that without coal mining these folks would have nothing. As it is there are already a lot of drugs and crime in the area and he worried about what would happen without the coal. He said he wouldn't venture into the woods to go coon hunting for fear of stepping foot in someone's trap they'd set to protect their property.

As I rode along today I kept thinking about the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter." This is the life story of Loretta Lynn who came from the Kentucky backwoods (Butcher Holler) to the Grand Ole Opry Stage. Sissy Spacek does an excellent job portraying Loretta as does Tommy Lee Jones who plays her husband, Doolittle Lynn or "Doo". If you haven't seen it you should rent it.

We were told that we were lucky to be riding this road today, Sunday, because the coal trucks weren't running. Thank goodness because next to yesterday this was one of my toughest riding days yet. (Maybe it is just because it is in the present and the most vivid but I'm telling you I wasn't sure I was going to make it today.) I think these hills of Kentucky may do me in. It is my back. I'm fine riding up the smaller grades all day long but when I have to push big grades all day my back really takes a beating. Besides I think I'm just totally exhausted from working so hard all day long. Mike and I agreed that I should go to bed early and skip the blog until this morning. Gregory and I went to bed around 9:00 P.M. while Mike collected laundry and chatted with a local about upcoming routes, but when he returned to the room I was still awake. You know that commercial about "restless leg syndrome" well I had "restless lower body syndrome." Mike had to give me a massage so I could relax enough to get some rest. I'd also spoken with my mom earlier about my uncle's memorial that was today so I had "home" on my mind.

Also disconcerting was a little episode I had this morning. I'm guessing we were about 15-20 miles into the ride when my arms started to feel really weak, almost like Jello, and my head started to shake uncontrollably. It was like bobbing up and down and Gregory said he could even see it. I said to Mike, "Something is wrong with me." He pulled the bike over and leaned it against the guard rail as I got off and started crying and trying to stop the shaking. I sat on the guard rail for some time collecting myself and decided I should eat and drink something. All I can figure is that my blood sugars took a major dip thus producing the shakes. I am diabetic but it is controlled with diet and exercise and I can usually tell when I need to eat something so get it taken care of before I get to this point. This was the first time I've had this happen on the trip. The food and water did the trick but between that little episode and the back pain I was seriously doubting my ability to make it to our destination. Mike decided we should stop more often during the climbs and take time to stretch and regroup. It did the trick but was frustrating because we were back to the technique we had to use to climb Lolo Pass earlier in the trip. I kept beating myself up about having to stop so often because I know if I'd felt better we could do these hills without stopping but they are just brutal. This is going to be the toughest part of our trip and there is a lot more climbing before we get over the highest point in the Appalachians and then we still have to get over the Blue Ridge Mountains!

We talked to our cycling friend Brian who finished the Trans Am on his birthday, November 7th. We'd left our personal version of "Happy Birthday" on his iPhone and he was getting back to us. He loved it by the way and said that he was definitely keeping that! Brian is the guy who was riding up a 17 percent grade and then looping back down again to ride alongside of us as we inched up the grade. He even admitted that the section climbing up to the Blue Ridge Parkway was tough for him. Knowing I was having back issues his words were, "You guys might want to find a different route or stop half way up in the town of Love." Oh, I'm really looking forward to that! The good news is that once we conquer that it is all downhill to Yorktown!

The last 14 miles of our whopping 46 mile day (which felt like 100 miles!) was on a four lane highway. All I can say is hills and traffic don't mix. We thought we'd have to go 3 miles off route to stay in the town of Hazard (Are you thinking of the T.V. series Dukes of Hazard?) but fortunately only a half mile off route we saw a Hampton Inn & Suites. The bike steered itself right into the parking lot. We decided this was our 3,000 mile splurge (We are actually at 3, 201 miles) and we plopped down the credit card. There was no way we were pedaling another mile. We enjoyed a nice hot jacuzzi and pool though the heat almost did me in and I barely made the walk across the parking lot to Applebees for dinner. I had no appetite but knew I needed to eat. After forcing down a dinner salad and several glasses of water with lemon I started to come alive again. Mike ordered another salad for me and I finished about half of that also. I know you're thinking that girl needs some carbs but I just couldn't eat anything else and the whole carb thing is a balancing game for me with the diabetes. In my regular life it is 50 carbs per meal and 25 carbs for a snack. I don't have it to a science out here but so far whatever I'm doing is working, except for this morning that is!


  1. glad you guys got to stay with neil and mary..... wonderful people!... we wound up staying an (unplanned) extra day with them as well just coz we were having such a great time! ...... ky was one of my favorite states to bike in

    btw..... you probably have already found out that in ky, a lot of folks have no idea what is on the other side of the mt!.... their explanation for that .....they don't need to go there!... a simple life!......and here we were traveling across the country!

    enjoy breaks interstate park... gorgeous!.... and yes, the climb to the blue ridge pkwy is TOUGH!!!!! and once you are up there, it is not flat, but it is beautiful!......and say hi to the cookie lady for us!.... i hope she is still around.... she was 83 or 85? and quite feeble but sharp as a tack when we stayed with her 5 years ago, but the neighbors who bought her house (she has lifetime living arrangements as part of the deal) have vowed to keep it running, not sure how late in the season tho!

  2. we will try to find you Tue afternoon east of Hazard. Call if you can to help locate you. Bill & Barb Grqves, Dillon CO

  3. sounds like you guys have had a rough couple of days. Hope things get easier tomorrow! This weather sure is amazing!!! ~ Blue

  4. Hi Blue. The weather turned and we had a tough day. Boo.