Days 23, 24, 25: Rosedale to Lookout, KY, then to Hindman
(Elk Garden United Methodist Church near Rosedale)
I left ahead of Tom and Dineke at 8:45 AM. I had to ride on the highway a few miles before turning on a local road.
After riding for about 35 miles, I arrived in Haysi. I was in all terrain vehicles (ATV) land. As soon as I sat down to eat an all-you-can-eat salad, pizza, and dessert buffet in the Pizza Plus restaurant, a group of ATV riders came inside. We chatted a bit and I recommended my Nemo sleeping bag to one of the guys. I was about half way done with my meal when Tom and Dineke showed up. They will eat here also and use the WiFi. I planned on riding to Lookout, Kentucky, whereas Tom and Dineke will ride to Breaks, staying in Virginia.
I continued my ride, hoping to get to Lookout before the rain in the afternoon. I saw a coal truck passing by me with thick black smoke coming out. I thought to myself, “that’s definitely not good for the environment.”
(Black smoke from a passing truck)
Further down the road, I climbed more hills. They are not bad as Hayters Gap, which has the steepest incline on the TransAmerica Trail, worse than the Blue Ridge. As I was walking my bike up one of the last hills in Virginia, a blue pickup trucked stopped ahead. An old man stepped out and asked if I needed a ride. I was trying to come up with an excuse to continue walking my bike, but the man had already opened the back of his truck. I didn’t want to reject his kindness, so together we put my bike in the bed of the pickup. The old man’s name is Jerry and he told me he’s a local here and knows all the roads here. Jerry drove about a mile from where he picked me up, going over the top of the hill and down a little bit. He then dropped me off at an intersection. I thanked him and realized that if a person wanted to help me I should never decline, unlike I did with the lady who tried to help me on Hayters Gap.
(Elkhorn City elk statue)
Not far down the road I crossed to Kentucky. After passing by Elkhorn City, I stopped by a roadside restaurant and bought a caramel milkshake. I didn’t get dinner there because it was only 4:15. After this quick stop, I came on a single lane country road and was chased by a dog. This time I was prepared with the pepper spray in my pocket. I took it out and turned around to spray the dog. I think I missed but the dog took my warning and stopped chasing me. A little shaken, but I was safe.
As I rode along I heard people yelling from two passing cars. It was the first time I encountered these types of people. Not sure what they yelled. I guess it’s better that way.
The rain started as I was about 5 miles from Lookout. A car coming from the opposite direction stopped beside me. The driver was a male teenager. He asked me how far I came, where I came from, etc. I tried to be polite but his friend in the backseat was telling me that I’m pretty. Clearly, he was on some kind of drugs. Feeling uncomfortable, I rode away.
I did a little over 60 miles by the time I arrived at Freeda Harris Baptist Center just outside of Lookout. I called the number on the door, and soon enough a man name Don came in a Honda Civic. I introduced myself and she showed me the gym where I was going to stay. There’s a kitchen, bathrooms, and a food storage room that had all kinds of canned and dried foods. Best of all, there’s a bedroom upstairs! Worst part is no WiFi and I don’t have a strong cell phone signal.
(The gym at the Freeda Harris Baptist Center)
When Don left, I took a shower and cleaned my clothes the old fashioned way, with soap and water. When I was cooking some spaghetti and ravioli Dan texted me. He is coming to the church also. By the time I finished dinner Dan arrived. He told me he rode 100 miles that day. I couldn’t believe it! How did he go from Damascus, up Hayters Gap, then come to Lookout, in one day? I was simply amazed.
After Dan settled down and ate his dinner, I went to bed a little after 10 PM. It was the first time in a while since I slept on a mattress bed. And it felt good!
The next morning, my clothes were still a little wet. I decided on staying at this church another night since it’ll rain the whole day. I took my time to clean my break pads, rims, and the chain on the bike. Dan and I chilled in the gym the whole morning. I messaged Dineke so she and Tom can stop by later in the day.
(Dan making his meal)
For brunch, I ate ramen and canned corn. At 1 PM, just after I started to watch a movie, I heard knocking on the door. It was Tom and Dineke! I was so glad they made it. For the rest of the day, we relaxed, listened to music, talked about life and our bike setup. I learned the Ortlieb panniers that are so popular can also fit on my rack. Tom also invited me to stay with him and Dineke in the Netherlands. I’ll have to plan a bicycle trip in Europe.
(Hanging out with Tom and Dineke)
For dinner, I made some pasta and sausages while Dineke made the pasta sauce. We had a wonderful dinner together.
I had 9 hours of sleep last night. This morning, we all got up around 6:15. We each made our own breakfast. I had a cup ramen and some coffee that Tom had made. Dan headed out first after breakfast. He will ride over 70 miles to Hazard. I left shortly after, around 7:45, heading to Hindman, which is only about 50 miles.
It rained the whole morning. Sometimes light, sometimes heavy. I was drenched. My bike computer was so wet that it stopped registering the speed. It didn’t work for 10 miles until I cleaned off the water on the metal contacts. I had the worst meal of my trip so far, two small lousy burgers at a gas station convenient store. At least the rain had stopped by then.
I rode along, almost ran over an orange gecko and a large turtle. I ate another lunch at Dairy Queen, not far from Hindman city limits. This time, the meal is much better with a real chicken burger, fries, and a sundae.
When I arrived at Hindman, I called the Knott Historical Society, a place that also hosts cyclists. No one picked up the phone. That’s weird. I wonder where else I can stay around town. Then I received text messages from a guy named David, who said the place is temporarily closed and I should go to the Hindman Student Ministries down the street. Seth, a leader of the ministry, showed me in and it looks like I’ll be sleeping on the couch tonight.
Just when I was starting to write this post, another cyclist showed up with the pastor. I met Crispin, who is cycling out to Iowa and back to North Carolina, making a loop. He has a cycling blog at crazyguyonabike.com/energizedcris. And I also met the pastor, whose name is Stephen.
(Crispin, another fellow cyclist)
I realized my upper back is heavily sunburned when I was riding to Damascus the other day. I can feel my skin as if they are bubbles. No wonder I couldn’t sleep on my back.
Dineke and Tom just came in. Their electronic bikes got damaged due to the rain this morning. Something wrong with the electronics.
Tonight, the four of us will stay in this youth center. I will grab dinner shortly.