Kentucky is beautiful and today was no different. It was another hot and humid one, and we took our time waking up this morning. We planned 51 miles to Booneville so we didn't leave Berea until 10 a.m. We needed rest from getting in so late last night! We made a quick stop at Walmart on our way through town and then headed east.
Berea seemed to be the edge of the mountains, as we had a 2 mile climb shortly after town. We haven't done a sustained climb since Colorado and it was difficult to get back in the mindset for a steady climb. We had 2 others that were slightly shorter but mentally I struggled with the concept of moving so slowly! Over the rolling hills we moved at 12-15 mph, and today we barely averaged 8! My legs are also not used to the long climbs and they were tired today, and yes, still sore after 51 days on the road.
We were taking a side of the road break this afternoon and a westbound cyclist came down the hill toward us. He stopped to chat and we discovered he was an AT thru hiker, class of 2006! He is the 3rd one we've met so far, and it feels good to be among people who have shared similar experiences. That is one thing I love about these long distance trips: we all have the same goal, and it makes no difference where we are from or what type of work we do. We know each other only by the challenges we have faced and the triumph we have known, and in ways that knowledge is more real than many of the relationships we have in "real" life. When you share such a powerful experience with another person, it bonds you in an indescribable way.
We caught up to George after a construction zone stopped him for 30 minutes. Apparently we had timed it right because we were able to ride right through! The second half of the day was much easier than the first and we made better time. We found a river with a small waterfall right next to the road, so we stopped and George and Josh went for a swim.
We rode into Booneville at 4:30 and headed to the Presbyterian Church where they have a pavilion and shower for cyclists. The shower was cold but it was wonderful in the afternoon heat, and we set our tents up under the pavilion. It is crowded here with the four of us plus Doug from North Carolina, Andreas from Germany, and a young guy who came in just at dark. We are all heading east and have been exchanging stories of our journies so far. We had dinner at a local diner and it is of course another hot, sticky night. The humidity rises in the evening air and I am laying inside the tent, stuck to my air mattress and sweating profusely, with my hair spread in an arc around my head to keep it off of my neck. I hope I am able to sleep!