Tuesday, May 29, 1984
Berea to Harrodsburg, Ky.
I’m reprinting the day-by-day journal entries of a bike tour my friend and I took in 1984. If your cross-country tour was cancelled by coronavirus this year, you might enjoy following along. More about the 1984 TransAmerica Tour
What did I say about bicycle touring and the kindness of strangers? There are exceptions.
Tonight we’re at the Parkview Guest House in Harrodsburg. 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.”
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?”
It was one of those situations where you didn’t think the guy could be serious, but he was. I wanted to laugh, but knew better. He finally gave us the room for $12, then we got into an argument about where to stow the bikes. We wanted them in the room. He wanted them outside. Finally he suggested the basement. “Would that suit you?”
It had been a weird day. We woke up at 5:30 at Brenda and Wendell’s, and Brenda was already up and had prepared whole-grain muffins, pancakes, and eggs for us. They’re cyclists, and we availed ourselves of their tools to clean our bikes this morning. In the process, I somehow broke a spoke and punctured a tube. So much for my bike repair skills.
Wendell was going to ride out of town with us, but changed his mind with the spitting drizzle and 47-degree temperatures.
This region is known as “The Knobs” for the small hills, which slowed our speed. It occurred to us that we might not ever hit the flats. At a newstand where we ate lunch we saw the Garrad County Record, “Covering the news like a red fox covers the county with a Walker foxhound on his tail.” Could those be Walker hounds that had been barking, and at times chasing, us?
We crossed Herrington Lake, a dam on the Dix River. After crossing the bridge, we passed a resort with a swimming pool next to the road. The pool was open, Muzak was playing over the loudspeakers, but no one was at the pool. Just a lone beachball floating in the water. It was like one of those “Twilight Zone” episodes where a traveler comes upon a town without people, but the elevators still run and the traffic lights still blink.
The Parkview is next to the Harrodsburg fort. According to historical markers, this was the first “white” settlement west of the Appalachians, beating Boonesborough by one year. Harrod had led his group downriver from Pittsburgh.
Headline: May 29, 1984 — US sends 400 “Stinger” anti-aircraft missiles
to Saudi Arabia as Iraq-Iran war
intrudes on Persian Gulf….
We are sitting in the lobby, if you can call it that, of the Parkview Guest House in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Harrodsburg supposedly is the oldest settlement west of the Alleganies. The fort and cemetery and other tourist-type attractions are just two blocks away. The Parkview is a boarding house. It is stark, with white walls that need cleaned and the smell of an old person’s house who doesn’t use most of the rooms anymore.
One fellow says he pays $25 a week for his room. The bathrooms are at the end of the hall. There is a sign on the wall by the front door that says, “No drinking allowed. This means you!”
I doubt there would be much drinking because all these Kentucky counties we have passed through are dry. At any rate, we are in the lobby waiting for the manager to get home from his painting job. I’m told he drives a red El Camino.
We don’t particularly want to camp tonight because it is cold as hell. The weather we have had is extremely unusual. It was 47 degrees today at 1 p.m., according to the girl at the E-Z Mart. And the wind on us made our 50 miles very chilly. My nose ran the entire time.
Beyond that, it was a nice, quick ride–50 miles in six hours with one long stop for lunch. The terrain was still hilly, but rolling hills, not the knee-busters we have come through.
So we got to town and decided to look for a cheap room rather than spend an uncomfortable evening. The sleeping would be fine. But being outside in what is now probably 40 degrees is not appealing to either of us, especially after a hard day in the saddle.
I think both Bis and I are really getting adjusted, both mentally and physically to the tour. We seem much more at ease now about the cycling and the obstacles such as weather and bad terrain, etc. I think it’s because we have had some good luck with people like Brenda and Wendell and because we are in new territory. It’s fun to ride into these towns we have never seen or heard of before. It brings out the adventurous spirit. In Virginia, we had seen and even biked much of the route before, so that took away from the excitement I think [plus, we were just getting our sea legs, as it were, and the daily grind affected us much more].
Anyway, here comes the manager in white painter’s overalls and full of bile. Must not have been a good day for him. Maybe it was the weather . . .
The first thing the guy does is look at the helmets and Gortex on the front table and he asks, “What the hell is that stuff?” He later went on to say that he didn’t want us fooling with the room or messing anything up “or puking in the bed.” At first he wouldn’t put the bikes in the room or even the house. We compromised on the basement and $12 for the room.
The radio news here gives a lengthy racetrack results report and a commercial for an insurance company said: “For home, auto, business or horse mortality.”
We took a walk through downtown Harrodsburg. It’s old-time and great: two pool halls on either side of the street, fountain drug stores and old storefronts. It reminded me of Cumberland when I was a kid. This is a nice little town and people are extremely friendly [the Parkview manager not withstanding]. The woman at the first motel we stopped at called other places for us when we told her the room she had was more than we wanted to pay. That’s friendly!