Find Your Way
May 24, 2002
Bardstown to Hodgenville

Today's Miles = 43.8
Average Speed = 9.5 mph
Maximum Speed = 35.5 mph
Total Miles = 967.6

I made the most use I could of my motel time in Bardstown, spending the morning replying to email and updating my web pages. After I checked out I headed down to "Bikes and Bargains", which is the only bike shop I'll be near until I get to Carbondale. I was hoping to stock up on spare spokes because I'm starting to run low, but when I got to the shop I found that in honor of Memorial Day they were only open one day this week and today wasn't it.

Bardstown bills itself as the "Bourbon Capitol of the World", and as I started to ride out of town a mild headwind brought the pleasant grainy aroma from a distillery just outside of town my way. After riding past the distilleries I bid Bardstown farewell and was on my way.

I was feeling a little experimental today and decided to try going off my mapped route for a change. I picked out some back roads that looked like they would shave a few miles off my day, headed off in my own direction, and almost immediately started climbing hills that made me feel like I was back in western Virginia. I think that while I might have saved a couple of miles on my odometer, I certainly burned more calories dragging myself over those extra hills.

My shortcut had been intended as a back way to the Trappist Abbey at Our Lady of Gethesemani and I spent some time at the Abbey reading about the monks and looking at some of the artwork there. The monks support themselves by selling fruitcake and cheeses and spend their lives balancing their time between prayer, work, and reading.

When I left the Abbey it was close to 3:00 and I realized I would have to ride fast in order to get to the post office in Buffalo before 5:00. I'd arranged to have two packages waiting for me there and was hoping to pick them up and then ride further down the road. I spent the next two hours pushing myself to ride as hard as I could, stopping briefly only once to have a chocolate shake to fuel my progress. But when I got to the post office I found that they had closed at 4:00 and not 5:00 as I had assumed. This meant that I would have to stay nearby so I could get my mail in the morning.

I rode a few miles further down the road to the town of Hodgenville, where cyclists are welcome to camp in the county park. When I got there the park was fairly crowded with junior softball games being played on two of the diamonds. I was feeling a little discouraged as the last time I had camped in a city park it had been quite noisy, and it really isn't all that fun pitching a tent when there are crowds of people all around. I asked a worker at the park gate if there was any particular place I should set up camp and he directed me down to a pavilion behind the swimming pool.

To my delight, as I approached the pavilion I caught sight of other tents and bicycles. I was greeted by two Dutch cyclists, Larissa and Bert˙n, who are also spending the summer crossing the United States. They were happy to finally meet up with the famous "Nick" whose name they had been seeing in the cycling logs as they pedaled west. Shortly we were joined by Steve and Linda, a couple from Wisconsin, who are riding a tandem cycle. These were the first cyclists I had met with since separating from Ed Gibbs and it was good to have some company for the night.

The four of them had arrived earlier in the day than I, so they had most of their chores already done and turned in earlier than me. When I was ready to call it an evening I wandered down and watched the tail end of the softball game. I realized that a small town game was something quintessentially American, but also something I had never experienced before. I had as much fun watching the parents cheer and little children run around as I did watching the game itself. Relaxed for the evening, I turned in about an hour behind everyone else.

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