Day 8: Louisville, KY to Ammons, KY

We got an early start and made our way through the eastern suburbs of Louisville and into downtown using the route that Jason helped us scout out the night before. As we crossed the bridge over into Indiana, we could see the swimmers in the river for the first leg of the Ironman Triathlon.

We looked for a place to get breakfast in Jeffersonville, IN. There was a vendor selling newspapers on a corner, and he recommended a place called Jerry’s up the street. As we tried to find it, we took a wrong turn and ended up almost getting on the Interstate, but luckily there was an exit ramp that put us back down on the street, and finally we found Jerry’s. The place was a good family-style restaurant. Afterwards, we noticed a Sherwin-Williams store in the shopping plaza right across the street. It was closed, but we posed for a picture in front of it anyway.

The route through Indiana involved many steep, winding roads. We took a break to fill our water bottles in a fountain in the public square in the town of Corydon. More steep hills ensued as we made our way back to the Ohio River and the Kentucky border. Yes, when you’re talking about riding around a river valley, even Indiana is not as flat as you would imagine.

When you look ahead on a map and see a town where you can look forward to taking a break, you get this picture in your head of what it will be like. But it turns out these towns are not always the inviting oasis that you imagine. The appeared to show the bridge across the river going right into downtown Brandenburg, KY. So, we imagined an easy coast out of the Indiana hills to the river, where we’d cruise across the bridge to find a cozy cafe to enjoy a nice lunch. It was not so pleasant, though.

The Ohio River is VERY wide, and the bridge at this particular crossing was all UPHILL in the direction we were going. Once we got to the Kentucky side, it was a mile or two MORE uphill before we actually got to Brandenburg. And the road was just a currently under-construction bypass that was not very near to the downtown area at all, and most of the only places available for lunch were fast-food chains. We stopped at a grocery store to stock up for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. We checked out a couple of local places for lunch, but both were closed, until we finally found a Mr. Gatti’s pizza buffet that fit the bill well enough.

The rest of the day involved more steep hills in the August heat and humidity, until we finally reached the Yellowbank Wildlife Management Area campground. This is a primitive campground, with no running water or other services. We had planned to stock up on water about 10 miles earlier at a gas station that was shown on the Adventure Cycling Association map, but this gas station was nowhere to be found.

There were a couple of groups of hunters camped at the area, so we wandered over and made friends with one group, who were from the Louisville area and were there for a dove hunt that was organized for the next day. When we mentioned that we were short on water, they were nice enough to lend us one of their jugs of water. We used enough to make our dinner and fill our water bottles enough to get us started on the ride the next morning.

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Day 7: Dry Ridge, KY to Louisville, KY

We grabbed another Waffle House breakfast before leaving Dry Ridge. Today, we decided to detour off of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, and take a more direct route into Louisville, following State Route 22 the whole way. This turned out to be a good decision, as the road was just gently rolling most of the way, with not too much traffic.

We came across our first bike lanes in the town of Owenton; the bike lanes seemed to be designed to connect the downtown area with the schools located a couple miles on the edge of town. Promoting biking to school? Good job, Owenton!

We stopped for lunch in Pleasureville at the Pleasureville Depot Inn, and old converted railroad station. A couple miles up the road, I realized that I had left the Kentucky/Tennessee road map that we had purchased last night sitting on the restaurant table. D’oh! Fortuitously, about 15 miles later, Ray happened to notice a complete US road atlas laying on the side of the road! So, we tore out the pages we would need for the remain US states that we’d be passing through. The road taketh away, and the road giveth back.

When we arrived in the eastern suburbs of Louisville, we were met by Ray’s brother-in-law Jason, who treated us to a room at the Hilton Garden Inn, and also to dinner at Olive Garden with him and his wife Esther and their kids Samantha and Caleb. The desk staff at the Inn, Connie and Sarah, were quite helpful and also interested to hear about our trip, and were also gracious to pose for a photo with us.

We also made a stop at the nearest Sherwin-Williams store, located on Westport Road, and said hi to Assistant Manager Dan Klingenfus.

After dinner, Jason helped us scout our route through downtown Louisville for tomorrow morning; it took a little extra planning to get around street closings for an Ironman Triathlon taking place tomorrow. He also pointed out some local sights and landmarks, including the world’s largest baseball bat at the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum.

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Day 6: Maysville, KY to Dry Ridge, KY

We got on the road after enjoying the breakfast buffet at The French Quarter Inn. The first part of the ride took us up a very steep, winding road out of the river valley. The climb is made up of Sutton Street, North 4th Street, and Lexington Pike, but is more commonly known as the Buffalo Trace. It reminded me of Sycamore Street back in Pittsburgh, only longer.

Not far from the top of the hill was the Sherwin-Williams store, where we again met Tom Hendrickson, along with his wife Jeannie. They gave us a first aid kit, which we hope not to use, but will come in handy if needed.

More steep hills and many dogs giving chase marked today’s ride. I found that the best defense against a barking dog is to bark right back. At one point, we started looking at our nearly-empty water bottles, and looking at the map with a list of towns saying “No Services.” However, in the village of Bladeston, we came across an auto service shop, and they graciously let us fill our bottle in their fountain.

Just down the road from Bladeston, we had our first minor mechanical issue of the trip. I noticed that the rack holding my left front pannier seemed a little wobbly. I stopped and removed the pannier, and tried to tighten the bolt holding the rack in place. As I turned the wrench, the bolt popped loose; I’m not sure if the threads on the bolt stripped or the boss on the fork leg stripped. Ray and I got it fixed by using a longer bolt with a nut on the inside to hold it all together.

We stopped for more liquid refills and a snack at the market in Lenoxburg. The owner happened to notice us looking over the UGRR map, and asked us to sign his log sheet of UGRR bicyclists. We noticed that during this year, other people had signed in from places as far away as Austrailia.

We stopped for lunch as the Assemly Cafe in Falmouth. Even with more hills and more sun and heat in the afternoon, we planned to go as far as Sparta to spend the night in the campground there, but a looming thunderstorm on the horizon made us decide to cut it 20 miles shorter and grab a cheap motel room in the city of Dry Ridge. Dinner was at The Country Grill.

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Day 5: Xenia, OH to Maysville, KY

In return for their hospitality, we treated Anne and Chuck to breakfast at Waffle House before getting a lift to return to our route in Xenia. We stopped by the Sherwin-Williams store again for an interview with WDTN-TV. Chuck planned to join us on the bike trail for a few miles, but Chuck had a flat tire, and so he bowed out in order not to delay us, so Ray, Anne, and I headed out. We said our good-byes to Anne as she turned around in Spring Valley.

Further along the bike trail, Ray indulged in his pastime of looking for local wildlife, especially salamanders. He found one right away, and also pointed out a fossil that looked like some kind of scallop-shelled creature, and a pig-snout nut.

The trail ended 50 miles later in Milford, which also corresponded to the end of Section 2 of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route maps. We stopped by Bishop’s Bicycles in town, where we were referred to the Bridge Cafe for a delicious lunch. Then it was back on the road.

The route was very hilly for the rest of the day, and we started to realize we got more than we bargained for in the day’s plan when we stopped for a break around 5:00pm and realized we still had over 40 miles to cover to reach Maysville. We pressed on, and were relieved when the final descent from the hills took us to the Ohio River valley in the town of Ripley. But that wasn’t the end yet; there were still 7 miles of road downstream to Aberdeen, then finally across the river (and our first stateline crossing) into Kentucky and the town of Maysville. The final mileage for the day ended up at 116.5.

A special thanks the Sherwin-Williams District Manager Marco Cline, who arranged a room for us at the French Quarter Inn in the downtown historic district. The Inn provided the room at half cost, so a thank-you to them for their support, as well.

We called Tom Hendrickson, Manager of the local Sherwin-Williams store. He picked us up at the hotel and treated us to dinner at Mi Camino Real Mexican Restaurant. After he dropped us off, on his recommendation we stopped over at O’Rourke’s Pub for a quick beverage.

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Thanks to Main Street Cupcakes

Thank you to Main Street Cupcakes of Hudson, Ohio for mentioning us on their blog!

Where Are We Now? service provided by Spot Satellite Personal Tracker

Today we received the Spot Satellite Personal Tracker device donated by Spot, Inc. It’s all set up and ready to go, so that you can track our progress exactly on the map.

You can go to http://tinyurl.com/miles4melanoma to see where we are (service no longer active).

Go to www.findmespot.com for more information about the Spot Satellite Personal Tracker service.

Thank you to Spot Inc!

Day 4: Powell, OH to Xenia, OH

We headed out around 8:30am and made our way out of Powell, through Dublin, and to the village of Jerome, which put us back on the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. There was a light sprinkle of rain all morning, but not enough to soak us, so it was a pleasant break from the sun and heat of the previous two days.

We stopped for lunch at The Country Table in West Jefferson. Not far out of town, the route turned onto the Ohio to Erie Trail bike path. This made for a pleasant ride through London a few other small towns. In South Charleston, we were amused by the “store hours” sign of the Surf ‘n’ Cycle shop (by appointment only). The bike trail took us all the way to Xenia.

We had made arrangements with our friend Anne to pick us up at the Xenia Station bike hub. Anne’s friend Chuck from Columbus was already there; Anne showed up just a few minutes after we did. She came in her big green “child molester” van (her description), which provided plenty of room for us and our bikes. And, she also brought a cooler of beverages and snacks, so we enjoyed a refreshing picnic right there at Xenia Station before heading over to the local Sherwin-Williams store.

At the store, the Jared and Denise presented us with gifts boxes containing Sherwin-Willimas t-shirts and other items, such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper, water, candy, and energy bars–all very useful and very much appreciated!

Before heading to Anne’s house, we made a detour to the town of Yellow Springs. We stopped into Ye Olde Trail Tavern for a beverage and a helping of their specialty, deep fried green beans. Back in the comfort of Anne’s home, we were treated to a lasagna dinner, and then had time to catch up on e-mail, do some laundry, and catch up on other chores.

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