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Day 12 – Polar explorers

(19 miles)

I leapt out of bed at 6:30, and into my cycling gear. After a few minutes it dawned on me that my cycling companions weren’t exactly showing the same sprightly enthusiasm. In fact they hadn’t stirred. A glance out the window at the misty rain and brief discussion later and I was easily persuaded back into bed (so to speak) as we scrapped our 70 mile day for a more weather-appropriate 20 mile token effort to a town with a church in it that takes in cyclists.

I’d like to point out, in my loudest written voice, that it was 4 deg C at 11am when we set off. And raining. Of all the trials I was expecting along this trip, days of freezing cold rain was not one of them!

Three miles down the road, we crossed over into Kentucky. We’d been talking about this moment for days now, partly because we were looking forward to the sense of progress that one feels when ‘ticking off a state’ but also because of the prospect of wild dogs. Anyone who has cycled through Kentucky tells of countless stray/wild/unchained dogs who appear to have been indoctrinated since birth with a pathological hatred of cyclists. Or something like that. Anyway, having been bitten by dogs three times previously, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to these encounters. Our latest plan involved strapping two massive cardboard cut-outs of grizzly bears to the sides of our bikes and scaring the dogs off that way. Alas, I forgot to pack my ‘Fake Bear Kit’…

True to form, while we were taking photos of the ‘Welcome to Kentucky’ sign, a huge dog the size of a small horse came bounding down from a house on the Kentucky side, barking and snarling and forced us to walk our bikes away swiftly.

Now if that's not the face of enthusiasm, I don't know what is!

This sign made my day

To my great relief, the rain seems to keep the dogs away/inside and we haven’t had any scary moments yet. We did chat to one woman who was carrying pepper spray (as we are) but who told us she ‘didn’t want to use it unless I really have to’. Which is commendable – except she then mentioned she’d just been bitten! Good grief – at what point will she decide to use the pepper spray?! Two bites? Half a chewed leg…?

Speaking of dogs, we’ve befriended another cyclist, Dan, who is also cycling the TransAm with his dog Russel in his own little trailer.

Dan, with Russel in his trailer

Anyway, we rolled up to the church we were planning to stay at around lunch time, to discover there was a week-long kids club in full swing in the gym we’d planned to use. Despite this, they immediately ushered us in, dripping and cold, and insisted on sharing their lunch with us, even cooking a pile more hot-dogs for us!

Tucking into another free lunch, courtesy of Calvery Christian School

EARL GREY! In Kentucky! Praise the Lord!

It’s been quite surreal, sitting around watching the kids activities – a world away from cycle touring. Brought back many memories from working on American summer camps.

Watching a puppet show for the kids

Not content with just feeding us lunch, the lovely Olivia made sure there was plenty of dinner for us too as we shared the team’s food again.

Olivia: "My favourite thing in life is feeding people" - if only we could have taken her with us! (From left: Parry, Pat, Olivia, Matt, me)

Rather than setting up our tents in the rain, we were offered the space in the U-Haul truck parked outside. So, following an evening round of Trivial Pursuit in which Matt and Parry demolished Pat and myself, the six of us (including Dan and his dog Russel) spent the night tucked up in the back of a truck. I slept like a baby – best night’s sleep of the trip so far!

U-Haul: Better than a tent!

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2 Responses to “Day 12 – Polar explorers”

  1. Lyn Lloyd-Smith says:

    Hi Graham,
    we are so enjoying your fun account of the trip. Patrick’s Mum Silvia sent us the link.
    Many years ago when Malcolm was 15 he cycled from Stockholm to the Arctic Circle with a friend. We used to think that was adventurous!
    Good luck and keep safe, hoping for better weather for you as you proceed.
    Lyn and Malcolm Lloyd-Smith

  2. Jessie says:

    This is so great. If only it had brought you a few miles down the track.

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