I Love Madison
It felt good to get an early start today. But I was sad to leave Madison IN. It’s such a cool little town – they seem to really value the traditional architecture of the area and they’ve built a thriving town out of it. Such a contrast to other places that I’ve seen where downtown is dead and empty and all the trade is at the Walmart on the edge of town. And the people there were super friendly to me. On my way out of town more than one person told me good morning and to have a great ride. Nice.
And I love the Riverboat Inn – if you’re ever in Madison, it’s your go-to spot. The owners have gone to trouble to give the place a homey, eclectic feel. The huge back area overlooks the Ohio river and you can sit out there and have a beer and listen to live music.
The only thing I didn’t like about Madison is the big power plant on the edge of town. I stopped to take pictures and noticed that a guy up on a catwalk was watching me closely. I waved to him and he half raised his hand in a wave, almost like it was automatic but then he realized maybe he shouldn’t. Then he got on his radio, while still looking a me so I started wondering if the security was going to show up. Oh well, I was done anyway but I would kind of liked to talk to them anyway. I couldn’t tell at a glance what the plant was burning but with a stack that clean it’s probably natural gas.
It was bound to happen but today I took a serious wrong turn and ended up with an extra 10 miles and 800 feet of climbing. I’ll be watching my map more closely next time. It really slows you down to have to stop and navigate a bunch of turns but if you try to remember too many steps you screw up. It’s especially easy because I can’t tell you how many River Streets I followed, how many times I’ve turned right on Main Street and then left on Elm. Was that Right, Left, Right or Left, Right, Left. Silver Street or Spring?
I had a bad feeling when I started down this big hill but didn’t thing much about it. Zoom! Freedom! Wheee! Until I got to Bethlehem. Oops, not supposed to go through a Bethlehem. Oh crap, up that big hill again. Actually I could have gone a shorter route but that would have taken me on a bunch of unbike-friendly roads and I didn’t want to risk it.
Then it seemed like I spent the next hour looking for water. I snagged a hose from a church in Bethlehem and didn’t think about the faucet until I left town. Hey, know what? Funny that they had two hoses – a red one and a blue one. And damn if that red faucet didn’t feel warm to the touch after I used it. I must have been checked out because I tasted that water and it tasted just like old church boiler. Yuck. So I stopped at another church and borrowed their hose (OK checking that there’s just one). That one poured out the dirtiest, rusty brown spew I’ve ever seen come from a tap. OK lesson learned – don’t steal water from churches. The next town I came to I saw a guy working in his yard and asked him if I could use his tap and he obliged. Now that was good water and I think he even has a water softener because it tasted almost sweet. Finally I got back on the right road and with plenty of water too.
Beware Flying Objects & Creepy People
I passed one gate today that just gave me the total creeps. I stopped to read the signs when I saw a gate on a rural road with two big flagpoles with the US Flag, the Confederate Flag, and a POW Flag. Then I started reading the signs posted at the gate; “PRIVATE PROPERTY – DO NOT ENTER”, and “Nothing In Here is Worth Dying For” and “Beware Flying Objects.” Eeew. I got the distinct impression that they couldn’t wait for someone to barge in so they could shoot them. I moved along but it gave me the heebie jeebies for miles.
The next yard down was flying a couple of flags that I had to look up. The Semper Fi I’ve seen before. But the “Thin Blue Line” flag I had to look up. I guess there’s a black, white and blue version of the Stars and Stripes now that they had too. I really think the left needs to do something about this co-oping of the flag. I want it back for all of us.
This is my latest training strategy. I didn’t have many of these until I got to Kentucky but I had two yesterday, and two today in IN. Actually Adam was unlucky enough to try one back in NY but now I’m on gaurd all the time.
It starts like this – you’re approaching some kind of run down house or trailer and when you’re about even with the house you start to hear this dog barking and getting closer and closer. Then I do a quick evaluation. Does he mean business? Is this a dog that is an actual threat? About a third are too fat to catch me, a third are too small to really be a threat, but that remaining third – they make you realize just how quick your adrenaline system can kick in.
Some people keep pepper spray at the ready for this (I saw Ralph had some right by his head tube) but I haven’t done that. My approach with those is two-fold; 1) sprint like hell and 2) get a water bottle ready. I’ve only had to use the bottle once and it did the trick. Have you ever seen a dog when you squirt a hose at them? Most of them have a practically involuntary reaction where they bite at the water. Same thing happens with the water bottle. I did that to a particularly threatening one yesterday and he bit at it and then just stopped – stunned. So far so good. I just hope I don’t run into one on some big climb.
Close Call for Someone
Today I had a close call of different kind. I passed an accident right after it had happened. This car had run into a telephone pole and the driver was out cold, and the horn was blaring (he was on it). Other folks were already there and calling 911. Apparently he had passed out at the wheel for some reason (Heart attack? Stroke? Diabetes? Drugs? Nobody knew).
I hesitate to even include this because it will just give Megan and Lynda more to freak out about. He was on my route and if I had been 2 minutes earlier it could have been me that he ran into instead of that pole. But I can’t just stay home because something bad might happen. I did increase my mirror vigilance and I check each car behind me to make sure that they’re getting over to give me room. Still it scared me too.
They did remove him from the car and I saw him stand and walk away with assistance (and a neck brace). So I think he will be OK. Thanking my lucky stars tonight.
The clouds had been threatening all day and finally they could hold the water no more. As I got across Clarksville it started to sprinkle and when I hit the edge of town it started to pour in earnest. Actually it was fun riding in the rain – it was cool, no breezes, a wide shoulder and I had a very pretty climb up through the woods. It seems like everywhere you scratch the ground around here you hit limestone, creeks, rivers, bluffs and this road snaked around all kinds of beautiful limestone outcroppings.
But you can only be soaked for so long. When my fingers started to wrinkle, I started looking for a hotel and I found a cheap option only a few miles away and that’s where I type this.
But that’s not quite the end of today’s story. For some reason this hotel allows dogs on the first floor and the clerk refused to give me a 2nd floor room (because I got a hotels.com cheap rate). And now it’s a complete bark fest every time somebody moves. Between that and the person pacing back and forth in the room above I tought I’d never get anything down. Ever see that scene in Barton Fink where he’s trying to write and the wallpaper keeps pealing and there’s some guy sobbing next door. Wish I was back at the Riverboat…