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1984 Bike Tour: Day 22 – Just like cowboys after a cattle drive

CARBONDALE, ILL. — After three weeks on the TransAmerica Route, we decided that we needed a break here in the hometown of Southern Illinois University.

A bike rider out for an afternoon spin hooked up with us outside of town and guided us along a shortcut to his favorite bike shop. We found a room at the Uptown Motel, took our first showers in about three days, and began to celebrate like cowboys coming off a dusty cattle drive.

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We stopped at a tavern called Booby's (it might have been Bobby's, but I wrote double o's in my journal… it's a college town; probably was Booby's) for a pitcher of beer, ate some greaseburgers at Wendy's, watched the just-released, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and then stopped at a bar for another pitcher. We had landed in dry counties every night since Whytheville, Va., so we had some catching up to do….

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/06/03/1984-bike-tour-day-22-just-like-cowboys-after-a-cattle-drive/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 21 – Pirates, bandits and skeeters at Cave-in-Rock

CAVE-IN-ROCK, ILL. — We crossed the brown-with-mud Ohio River on the Ida L ferry this afternoon on our ride through the former haunt of pirates and bandits and the present-day domain of mosquitoes. 
We were happy to leave the Sebree park, what with freight trains passing by all night. Our route immediately detoured because of the flooding (the paper said 30,000 acres were underwater due to the Green River backing up), but we still made good time into Dixon, where folks told us a small group of bicycle tourists had passed through yesterday.

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At Marietta's Cafe in Marion, we signed the guestbook and saw the names of three cyclists from Connecticut (the same guys we've been leapfrogging ever since Virginia) just above ours. …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/06/02/1984-bike-tour-day-21-pirates-bandits-and-skeeters-at-cave-in-rock/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 20 – Church BBQ sauce is “Just about right!”

SEBREE, KY. — We're at the Sebree City Park tonight, camping downwind from preparations for the St. Michaels annual cook-out. They're preparing 1,500 pounds of mutton and pork for tomorrow, and this evening they're stirring a huge cast iron pot of homemade barbecue sauce.

While Bruce and I were talking with them, a couple of the old hands asked one of the younger guys to sample the hot sauce. He lifted up the wooden ladle, sipped it, squinted his eyes and choked out the words, “Hmmm. Just about right!” Then he gasped for breath.

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“Just about right” describes our ride today. ….

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/06/01/1984-bike-tour-day-20-church-bbq-sauce-is-just-about-right/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 19 – Abe born here, honestly

We pedaled over to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site today, just up the road from Joel Ray's Lincoln Jamboree. Yee-haw!

The park ranger giving the tour said, “As far as we know, this is where he was born.” Sounding a little cagey? Over in Springfield yesterday we had stopped in the Lincoln Homestead State Park, a woman in the office said, “Older people around here say that Lincoln never would have been born down in Hodgenville in the wintertime, so they believe he was actually born up here in Springfield.”

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With my keen reporter's instincts, I asked him about the discrepancy. He shrugged his shoulders. “Nobody seemed to care where he was born until 1860 when he was elected president.” Makes sense. …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/31/1984-bike-tour-day-19-abe-born-here-honestly/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 18 – That fragrance of home cookin’ is all bourbon

HODGENVILLE, KY. — We thought nothing could smell sweeter than the good country air of the Kentucky bluegrass country, until we left Bardstown.

We had just finished an unsatisfying lunch at a shopping center deli in the hometown of  composer Stephen Foster (My Old Kentucky Home), when we caught the fragrance of good home cooking in the air. Bruce said, wherever it's coming from, “that's where we should have eaten.”

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We rode on for a half-mile and saw the entrance sign for the Heaven Hills Distillery, the source of that fragrance. If we could have “eaten” there, our trip would have ended, no doubt. What we smelled cooking must have been sour mash. We merely cycled past huge warehouses full of booze…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/30/1984-bike-tour-day-18-that-fragrance-of-home-cookin-is-all-bourbon/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 17 – Not everyone welcomes bicycle tourists

HARRODSBURG, KY. — What did I say about bicycle touring and the kindness of strangers? Forget it.

Tonight we're at the Parkview Guest House. When we walked in the front door of the two-story men's-only “guest house,” a guy told us to wait right there for the manager who would soon be home from work. We sat in a couple of chairs in the hallway. Soon the manager walks in:

“What the hell's going on here? And get that thing off the table.”

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Bruce removed his helmet from the lamp table. We asked for a room. The old guy said he had one but didn't know whether he'd let us have it. It only had a double bed. “You're not going to get drunk and puke in bed, are you?”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/29/1984-bike-tour-day-17-not-everyone-welcomes-bicycle-tourists/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 16 – A good welcome to Berea

BEREA, KY. — We didn't make as big a splash as some people upon entering Berea, but we felt heroic all the same and did receive a warm welcome and invitation.

We arrived in Berea about 10 minutes ahead of the Olympic torch. AT&T was sponsoring the torch run through all 50 states on its way to the Summer Games in Los Angeles. We just happened to ride into Berea at about the same time as the torch. A local woman had raised $3,000 to carry the torch for a mile and people lined the street waiting for her arrival.

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While we waited, a woman came up and started a conversation. We were the first bicycle tourists she'd seen this year. She and her husband bicycle. Their house is listed in a national organization's newsletter as an overnight spot for travelling bicyclists. Would we like to stay? Of course we would …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/28/1984-bike-tour-day-16-a-good-welcome-to-berea/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 15 — Hill hell

BOONEVILLE, KY. — We never stop climbing hills. The route heading west crosses one ridge after another. I can appreciate what Daniel Boone and the pioneers had to endure.

We did go through some wide open bottomland nestled between the hills today, though, generally after passing Buckhorn Lake. We saw some cows in pastures today, something we hadn't seen for many days. Before it's been pigs, hogs, and chickens. Those smaller farm animals must be better suited for small farms on hillsides.

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These hills are gut-wrenching for me. I start out in medium gears, but soon I'm in my lowest — the granny gear or stump-puller. I grind away, travelling 27 inches for every pedal stroke; don't try to think about how many pedal strokes in a 4.4-mile climb…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/27/1984-bike-tour-day-15-hill-hell/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 14 — A salute from King Coal

PIPPA PASSES, KY. — Last night's fear and loathing about spending the foreseeable future dodging coal trucks turned out to be a waste of time.

Coal is king in these parts, but even the king gives a holiday to his subjects over the Memorial Day weekend. No coal trucks confronted us today. We could see them parked in gravel parking lots behind chainlink fences, their trailer beds tilted up so they wouldn't collect rainwater. It was as if they were saluting our passage.

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Although the coal trucks were absent, the grinding terrain still had to be dealt with. As we broke camp in the morning, an old camper who knew the area said our route would be “rough as a cob.” We didn't know how rough a cob was, but we soon found out. …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/26/1984-bike-tour-day-14-a-salute-from-king-coal/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 13 – That’s the Breaks

BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK, Va. — There's nothing like a big ol' country-style breakfast to start the day — if you plan to go right back to bed.

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Bruce and I weren't napping, however. Rev. Chuck and his wife served us an extra helping of biscuits 'n' gravy, along with sausage, bacon and eggs this morning. He said we'd need that extra larder to get over “Big A” Mountain up the road. …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/25/1984-bike-tour-day-13-thats-the-breaks/