I think I fully became a touring cyclist today.
George was already gone when we woke at 6:30. He opted to stick to the Adventure Cycling route but Josh, Seth, and I took an alternate route that was shorter. We had breakfast at the hotel and hit the road. The highway was busy but there was a wide shoulder and it was easy riding.
We met a man out for a ride on his bike and he rode with us for a few miles. David said that he wanted to thru hike the Appalachian Trail and cycle cross country. In Josh's words, "He ran into the right people." :)
We had second breakfast at Taco Bell and continued on Route 3. It was another sunny, beautiful day, and only about 85 degrees. The road was flat and narrowed to a two-lane road once we got out of town. Our intended destination was Cave-In-Rock, a town right on the Ohio River. About 22 miles out, Seth heard a pop and stopped to find another broken spoke!...again in the rear on the cassette side. We rode to the nearest gas station and he did a fantastic job of trueing the wheel, making it rideable.
We looked at the map and had a big decision to make: 1) Seth could try to ride on the broken spoke for a few hundred miles until the TransAm passes through a town with a bike shop or 2) we could ride off route to the city of Owensboro to a bike shop about 80 miles away. We mapped our options and decided to ride 50 more miles to Sebree, Kentucky, which would set us up for about 30 miles to Owensboro tomorrow. The total for today would be 103 miles, by far our biggest day!
When I get an idea in my mind, I can't let it go until I've completed it. On the AT, I had a 30-mile day goal, and we did it. We had a discussion in Murphysboro yesterday about my desire to do a century ride on this trip. I didn't think we'd have the opportunity since the terrain is only going to get harder. Well, hello opportunity! I wished the circumstances were different, and I was sad to miss out on the Cave In Rock state park and the ferry crossing of the Ohio River (the alternate route simply had a bridge), but I was so excited about getting my hundred mile day!
Josh decided to continue on the original route to meet up with George, and Seth and I set out at 3 for another 50 miles. It was again fairly easy riding and we got to the Kentucky border and Ohio River in 10 miles. I grew up in a town very close to the Ohio River so it was amazing to think of where those waters had been! The bridge was harrowing as there was construction and one lane was closed. We had to stop in the closed unpaved lane twice to let cars pass.
Kentucky had a few rolling hills but they weren't difficult. We both felt strong and enjoyed the ride on the quiet road...until we heard another pop! Another spoke snapped. Surprisingly the wheel was only slightly wobbly so we continued on to the closest town and stopped at McDonald's for fuel. We called the bike shop and they have a rim that should work on Seth's bike, so they will hold it for us until tomorrow.
Twenty-five miles remained and we were starting to slow down. Since we are off of the TransAmerica, we had to use Google maps to navigate, and at one point it told us to turn down a gravel road! We stayed on the pavement until it found an alternate route, down a narrow unlined bumpy country road. We took it and were fortunate to have pavement for the 5 miles to the junction with the highway! We lost the sun 3 miles from town and rode in with our lights blinking, stopping at a convenience store for Gatorade. We had done my century!
We asked the lady behind the counter about a church hostel in town that we had heard about (Sebree is actually on the TransAm; essentially we took a short cut) and she gave us directions. A teenager who was helping to set up for a wedding at the church let us in and the hostel is amazing! A hot shower with real towels, couches, ping pong table, pool table, full kitchen, etc. I wish we had planned a zero here! :)
We are the only ones here tonight so it should be a good night's sleep. Tomorrow we will ride to Owensboro and then down to Utica to meet back up with George and Josh. Now time for sleep!