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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/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 12 – We meet the Rev at Elk Garden

ELK GARDEN, VA. — “Bikers. Take a Break. Good Cool Water. Welcome.”

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After climbing in and out Appalachian hollers all day and seeing a sign like that, we didn't need to be told twice to stop for a while. That's where we met the Rev, another unforgettable person on our TransAmerica Tour. …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/24/1984-bike-tour-day-12-we-meet-the-rev-at-elk-garden/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 11 – Fellow travelers, different paths

GRINDSTONE CAMPGROUND, VA. — We hit it all today — headwinds, rain, steep hills, illness and an opposite direction bicycle tourist (he had a nice tailwind) who told us how great things were. That last was the hardest to take.

We broke camp at the Elizabeth Brown Memorial Park, packed our damp gear, and headed to the laundromat in town. I tried to fix my front derailleur while my shoes dried, broke the nut, cursed and threw things, then walked around town until I found an auto parts store where a guy replaced it for free.

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Back on rolling Route 11 again, we came across a guy who was wrapping up his cross-country trip from San Francisco…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/23/1984-bike-tour-day-11-fellow-travelers-different-paths/

1984 Bike Tour: Day 10 – Dickie Boyles, where are you?

Today, our stupidity almost got the best of us.

After a late start, I had problems with my front derailleur and tried to fix it as a gas station. It was 10 a.m. before we got underway. We stopped for a bite at Newbern, where several log cabins appeared to be under restoration

We continued on along a road that had a beautiful sweeping vistas of wide green valleys backed by blue tinted mountain ridges (bottom photo).

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This led us to the Draper Country Store, “18 and 90” it said above the door. Inside, a guy cut some longhorn cheese from a huge block he kept under glass. The old store had a pool table, a cast iron stove, some well-worn chairs, and lots of unusual items for sale…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2018/05/22/1984-bike-tour-day-10-dickie-boyles-where-are-you/