This week, I decided to take a cycling trip from Augusta,KY to Madison,IN. After having breakfast, I left Augusta very nervous. I had never cycled such a distance, and I had never camped alone in the woods. After traveling about 10 miles, I realized that I had forgotten my bicycle lock. Rather than spend unnecessary money further down the road, I turned around and passed the nasty barking houndog, climbed the giant 1 1/2 mile hill, and retrieved the bicycle lock. I reassured myself that the goal of the trip was to learn about bicycle touring…not to cover a set distance in a set time.
About an hour after leaving Augusta for the second time, I was passed by a group of serious bikers. There were probably close to twenty in the group. All dressed in bright colored biker attire. They passed me with such a momentum, I felt like a child on a tricycle. The group was drafting off each other, and the only extra weight they carried was their water bottle, however, they triggered my competitive streak, and I began pushing myself harder…Hoping to keep up with their pace. After about 30 minutes hard cycling, I was relieved to see the last biker in the group take a different course.
I stopped at a recreation park outside mentor, KY. it had a series of bike trails that circled a cluster of baseball/soccer/football fields. I refilled my water bottles, and called my parents to let them know how the trip was going so far. I learned from my father, an experienced biker, that trying to pace with the group was a bad idea or a touring biker. He explained that I would be peddling all day (for days) and it is more important to maintain a comfortable pace than try to achieve any speed goals.
I began to enter Cincinnati metro area. Being Sunday, the traffic was not heavy. While approaching the cluster of bridges that connect Kentucky with Cincinnati, I was surprised at how quickly I covered such a distance. I now know that I can ride my bike into Cincinnati in about 3 hours. I kept my equipment very light with the mindset that most of what I need will be available while traveling. I made my first food stop at a Taco Bell, where I refueled with burritos and quesidillas. I followed the river along rt 8 out of the city until I reached the Anderson ferry. The ferry made me reminisce about our ferry in Augusta that crosses the Ohio…It seemed like a world away, even though I had only been on the road for a few hours.
On the Ohio side, I traveled along hwy 50. It was not as bicycle friendly as Kentucky’s route 8. Although 50 was a four lane, it was much busier than kentucky’s river road. It also lacked the “share the road” signs that provided a sense of safety. I peddled west, passing a series of factories, until I reached a grocery store, where I bought 3 bananas and 3 cups of yogurt.
Later that day, I crossed the state line, entering Indiana. At that point, I decided that I wanted to stop a few miles before Rising Sun, IN. I followed the signs for the Ohio River’s scenic trail. It took me through old Lawenceburg, a town with some charming architecture, but dwarfed by a sprawling casino boat and factory industry. You would think that a city with so many revenue generating businesses would be able to afford to maintain their roads. Lawreneburg had the worst conditions for a bicycle…lots bumps, glass and potholes.
After traveling through Aurora, IN, I began to look for places to sleep for the night. I had my eyes peeled for something wooded, away from from a private residence, and without a No Tresspassing post. After finding the spot, I carried my bike down a small hill and set up my Hennessey Hammock, a combination tent/hammock. It was hard to make myself comfortable, because it was a hot day, and a humid night. I fell asleep listening to one of my favorite podcasts, woken by the snort of a deer. The woods were pitch black, speckled with firefly lights. A dog barked at me, as i drifted in and out of sleep.
To Be Continued