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Days 27 & 28: From Holiday to Hilton

No matter what day of the week it is, a rest day is like a Sunday. It's slow and luxurious at the beginning, and by the end you start to feel a little antsy — you know what's coming the next morning. But, despite the requisite pre-return-to-the-road restlessness, we spent a good Day 27 unwinding and catching up with things (postcards, calls to loved ones, this here blog) in Owensboro.

Owensboro's got a lot of pigs. Pig statues, that is. Kentucky cities seem to have this thing where they've decided on some distinctive sculpture and then reproduced it all around town with decorations by different artists. In Elk City it's... elks (surprise); in Berea it's giant hands; in Owensboro it's pigs.

The riverfront downtown in Owensboro is a little abandoned feeling — not decrepit at all, just semi-spookily free of people/life. Don't know if this is COVID-related or not. It kind of reminded me of a much smaller downtown Cleveland — lots of big buildings, which all seem to be banks. Probably a lot of people plugging away inside them, but not a lot of vitality out on the sidewalks. We managed to find the one coffee shop, a funky little place that would have fit in in Brooklyn (wacky mismatched furniture, tattoos, homemade signage, tchotchkes), except for the Christian rock playlist blasting on repeat. ("Coffee & Jesus" read one cursive, Etsy-ish wooden sign.)

Mostly, we were hanging around till the next day, when Beau's derailleur hanger was due to arrive at one of the local bike shops. In the mean time, we drank more beer, debated trying to cross the bridge to Indiana (eventually decided against it — skinny, not bike- or pedestrian-friendly bridge, lots of traffic), and were saved by Mellow Mushroom when all of the other restaurants closed surprisingly early. (Again, downtown = for bankers only.)

On Day 28, we woke up ready to be back on the road. The super friendly folks at the Holiday Inn where we'd been crashing let us leave all our bags with them while we walked our bikes a couple of miles to the bike shop. We hung up Beau's chain and dangling derailleur with zip ties to get them out of the way. This is... not how a bike is supposed to look:

Roll? Sure. Pedal? Nope.

The dudes at Legends were great. While they worked on Beau's bike, we went to eat some BBQ. (The less said here, the better — poor Beau. Owensboro's attempts at BBQ did not measure up to his Memphis-and-Texas-bred tastes. It made him sad for these people, that they think that this is what barbecue is…) But when we got back, we were rolling again! New derailleur hanger, cleaned chain, new back tire, tightened up headset, hooray! We scurried back to the hotel to grab our bags and, in the high heat of the afternoon, hit the road.

Back in the saddle — again!

We had only planned for a short-ish ride, from Owensboro to Sebree — 36 miles or so. Sebree, KY is known (at least, among folks who write and follow biking blogs) for an excellent cyclist hostel run by the First Baptist Church there. We thought we'd see what it was all about.

On the way, we did some really pleasant riding — mostly flat, wide, and scenic. Pastures and streams, amber waves of grain and so on. We're discovering that Komoot, my navigation app, apparently has a gravel fetish, and loves to send us down gravel "short-cuts" when it gets the chance. And yeah, yeah, gravel biking is SO HOT RIGHT NOW, but... I would prefer not to.

Thanks, but I prefer asphalt.

In Virginia, the ancient barns are just standing there, being ruin porn-y and collecting dust. In Kentucky, they're just as ancient, but all still in use. Here's some tobacco hanging in one:

We scared a bunch of cows out of a different barn. Sorry, cows!

We made it to Sebree in the late afternoon and were welcomed to the cycling hostel by Bob, a member of the First Baptist congregation. The bloggers did NOT overstate it. This guy called Sebree "the Hilton of Church Cycling Hostels" and he's not wrong. Huge comfy couches, shower, laundry, kitchen, plus pool and foosball and air hockey and video games and even a four square area taped out on the floor. (Like Hindman, the hostel is also the church's youth center — apparently Baptist teenagers and cyclists have all the same needs.) There were also extra lovely touches — like a room devoted to the bikers that have passed through, with a guestbook, maps on the wall with pins for where folks are from, a list of places to eat in town, a shelf full of adoptable cycling gear, bike pumps, and two different curated lists of things to see and towns to hit next, depending on which direction you're going. Big thanks to Bob and to all the folks at Sebree — it's an amazing place to shelter for the night.

Every time we have a kitchen, we really want to use it. Plus, there was a can of tomato sauce lying around. So we procured some noodles at the dollar store (sigh, the lack of actual groceries in these places is a sad thing) and made massive amounts spaghetti. Consuming it while watching What We Do In the Shadows used up just about all the energy we had. Also, Bob had put the idea in our heads that we might be able to pull off a century tomorrow: there's a 100-ish mile "short-cut" from Sebree to Carbondale, IL that cuts right across southern Illinois and takes about 35-40 miles and several climbs off the trail. We passed out dreaming of a flat 100 miles. Will we pull it off?! Tune in next time to find out...

Day 27: Rest day in Owensboro

Day 28: Owensboro to Sebree, 37.5 miles, 1150 feet of climbing, more nice Baptists.

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