What a great day – I’m feeling blessed to meet so many wonderful people along the way. First I get a great send off from Margaret and Ron who not only gave me a lift to the bike trail but fixed me a breakfast and lunch for the road. Then I meet John on the trail – who’s an interesting guy with a long history of racing and racing support. And who did he meet on this same trail last week? Ralph and Joanne who are letting me camp at their house tonight while they’re out pedaling across NY. Talk about your small, wonderful world.
I took an easy day today because it wasn’t that far from the Gaithers to Ralph and Joanne’s. So I meandered my way to Cincinnati along the bike trail. I’m going to miss Ohio’s bike trails. Cycling on the roads there wasn’t much fun but then I didn’t have to do it much. I don’t think Kentucky has so many bike paths but we’ll see.
It was really interesting talking to John today. He’s been seriously into racing since 13 and has seen it all from the inside out. He had some success and raced pro for a few years before transitioning to a mechanic for US, and later Tour teams (that tour). He was part of the 7-11, Motorola teams when the infamous Lance was on them (yes he’s just as big a jerk as you’ve heard). But what really impressed me was that John invited me over for a coffee which of course I couldn’t turn down. I got to meet his son (Jonah’s age) and wife and I was just impressed overall with what a balanced life they lead. I’m always taken when people have great, original art on the walls and have put some thought into their home environment beyond just picking up what’s easily available from Ikea or whatever your go-to shop is. It’s the little things that matter sometimes and I had an awesome macchiato, with fizzy water on the side and John sent me on the road with a new drink mix (infinite? Infinity?) that I will try in my bottles tomorrow (salted caramel! It was good).
Sometimes it seems like you just get on a bike and people treat you nice. It’s been great.
In downtown Cincinnati I went across the “purple bridge”, over the Ohio river, and into Kentucky. That’s state number 7 out of, I think 14. But they get bigger westward. Depending on my final route out of Ky and into Missouri, next up will be IN, KY (again), MO, KS, CO, UT, NV and CA.
There’s a very apparent cultural shift moving across the Ohio. Kentucky reminds me more of Missouri. Ohio is similar, but very neat. Kentucky is noticibly “grittier” I would say. And the accents are immediately a lot more apparent everywhere you go. I wouldn’t have expected that much difference just across the river, and I’m clearly making sweeping generalizations here so you folks that know the area correct me if I’m wrong.
So far the shoulders of the roads kind of suck here, but I’m off the Adventure Cycling route – I’ll get back on tomorrow and we’ll see. But in the meantime, most drivers have been very polite – giving me the whole lane and waiting to pass until it was safe. Cool! And one car (with windows open) had a guy in it that told his girlfriend “I just love a guy in tights.” So there’s that. See they like Lycra-clad cyclists here! I just hope they keep their dogs tied up.
One downside is that the farther south I go, the more confederate flags I see. I hesitate to bring it up because it’s just stupid. I refuse to take pictures of them – I just don’t want to give them any additional credence or power. And of course I’m not surprised there are more here. I was surprised to see them in NY and OH. KY not so much. I just want to understand what these folks are thinking. If the right opportunity comes up, I’d like to ask. I’m not on a mission to convert but if I was I would point out how completely un-Christian thing those flags are. Anyway, I’m really curious what the hell they’re thinking.
Tonight I’m camping out at Ralph and Joanne’s house basically off the grid. They have water and electricity available and two stories of porch are mine for the night. So I have everything I need. I stopped in Union and stocked up on food for dinner and breakfast, and they have a couch outside that may just be the bed tonight. If the bugs get too thick I can always put up the tent (OMG they have the tiniest little red chiggers here – yuck). Their porch has a lovely view of their valley, and across to the Ohio River (can’t see but I can tell where it is). They also said to go ahead and borrow their kayak and take it down the creek which sounds like a great dusk thing to do.
It was a great dusk thing to do. The creek is slow and still and murky but 2 chances to paddle in as many days is a luxury. And this spot was completely different – still waters all the way down to the Ohio River. And the Ohio’s not much to paddle against either. I saw a lot of fish jumping along the way, even though you’d have to measure the visibility of that branch in inches instead of feet. And after I paddled through a slow spot, two deer crossed there, splashing up to the tops of their legs to get across. Not particularly stealthy but maybe that’s not required of deer anymore. The first was a fawn that still had it’s spots so maybe after it plunged through, Mom had to follow. Once again, I have no photos to show for it.
It’s so still here this evening its really hard to tell how far away sounds are. I can easily hear people talking and laughing across the valley. Often I think someone’s coming up the driveway just to figure out that it’s a quarter of a mile away. There’s a conveyor belt running at a gravel mine that’s got to be 2 miles away and I can hear it chugging away. (I hope they don’t work 3 shifts.) Seems like I can hear red-wing blackbirds for miles. All the birds are singing as the sun drops down on the other side of the Ohio.