Monday, May 28, 1984
Booneville to Berea, Ky.
I’m reprinting the day-by-day journal entries of a bike tour my friend Bruce and I took in 1984. More about the 1984 TransAmerica Bicycle Tour
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.
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 that year.] 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.
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 ride bikes. 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, we got directions to the house.
Soon, the Olympic torch passed by. The poor runner couldn’t run because the exhaust-spewing press truck ahead of her was moving too slowly.
Who else do we meet? One of the riders from Connecticut. They arrived a day and a half ago and were camped in a “puddle” of a campground while one of the riders was waiting for a new frame. He was a bit disillusioned about the tour and his riding companions, who couldn’t get going until late then hammered all day to get to their destination. His mood didn’t improve when we told him we were sleeping with a free roof over our heads tonight.
The ride to Berea from Booneville had been fairly pleasant. We climbed and coasted down several hills in the morning, then after Lookout Tower, we coasted down a hill and never climbed again. We had put the Appalachians to our backs.
We talked to some good old boys sitting out on the porch at a country store. One of them asked his friend if he’d like to come up to Ohio with him for a couple of days. “No, ’cause there’d be no one to sit here in the shade if the sun ever comes out.”
The mountains didn’t turn my stomach today, but the road kill almost did. In the warm, moist weather, you could smell the decaying possoms and skunks and other unidentifiable dead creatures before you could see them.
We explored the town of Berea, and got to Brenda and Wendell’s home about 6. I’m constantly amazed at how friendly and charitable people are toward bicyclists. We talked, showered, did our laundry, and got our separate bedrooms. Mine had bicycle posters on the walls.
One last thing. Berea marks a milestone for us. I always knew we would spend the night here. It’s the last town in the first guidebook for the TransAm route (we’re carrying 4 of the 5) and 748 miles into the trip. We can really do this thing.
Headline: May 28, 1984 —
Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Lakers
beat Larry Bird and the Celtics in opening game
of NBA championships….
Pulled into Berea about 2 p.m. and came right up on the torch run [the 84 Olympic torch run across the country]. What luck!
I had wondered if we would see any part of the run and guessed that we would not. But that was just the beginning of our luck in Berea. Within 30 minutes of our arrival, two people (cycling enthusiasts) came up and struck up a conversation and both invited us to spend the night.
We eventually stayed with Brenda and Wendell. He is the comptroller at the hospital and she’s an RN at the emergency room. They both cycle and were wonderful to us. We did our laundry there and they fed us a great pancake breakfast. They were going to go out with us in the morning, but it was too cold and rainy so they stayed behind.
What nice people. We felt very comfortable.
Berea is a nice little town of 8,000 with a four-year liberal arts college and lots of crafts and tourist attractions: dulcimer makers and other craftsmen. The Boone Tavern, southern and genteel, is staffed and run by the college students. It’s a clean, friendly town.
We crossed paths with the three bikers from Elk Garden. Keith, Tom and Doug. They were having more problems. It seems to be their legacy. Keith had a bent axle on his Trek and had to lay over until Tuesday to get to a bike shop in Lexington. Nothing was open today because of the holiday. Good luck to those fellows. They seem to need it.
Photos — Top, Olympic torch run arrives in Berea; middle, on the road to Berea; bottom, Brenda and Wiley in front of their home
Day 17 — Not everyone welcomes bicycle tourists