September 20, Day 80 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
We know we are getting closer to the east coast when we had Dunkin Donuts offered at our hotel this morning. That started our day on the right foot. I wanted another donut before we left, but thankfully the clerk mentioned that it
would just make me tired. She offered me a banana for the road instead. Smart woman!
Before we left our motel room, we studied our map for the day and noticed that we would have a hard time getting to Brandenburg, Kentucky—almost 100 miles away. So I made a call to a church in Cloverport, Kentucky, because there were no hotels in the area. Since it was Saturday, I was shocked when the pastor’s wife answered. I asked if we could stay at the church tonight. Churches are frequent stops for bicyclists on the Transamerica route, but not in these parts. Thankfully, they welcomed us to stay at their facility. We looked forward to a 60-mile day, rather than riding in the dark to Brandenburg.
Owensboro is a bicycle-friendly town with a great bike shop. The shop happens to be located right next to Gene’s Health Food store. The sign reads, Your Health is Your Wealth. That is a great motto! While Tim was still inside the bike shop, I was drawn to the health food store with its familiar and much missed scent of lavender, patchouli, and other essential oils. As I wandered around, I met Gene, the originator of the store, an 85-year-old man who, just last year, let his grandchildren take over the business.
We had just a five-minute conversation, but I left there moved by his kindness and sincerity. He spoke about the marathons he used to run, and he asked all about our bicycle trip. I offered him an Open Road Press card so he could follow along, but he said he can’t read or use the computer anymore due to his failing eyesight. He mentioned several physical activities he cannot participate in anymore due to his nerve tremors, but he said something so beautiful. Despite his limitations now due to his age, he said, “I still love being me.” Then he said, “And I love you being you.” It was such a sweet exchange between two complete strangers, and it left an indelible impression on my heart. I rode happily along the rest of the day thinking of our conversation.
It wasn’t long after leaving the bike shop and health food store that we stopped a runner on the bike path we were following (or trying to follow) out of town. Kay was training for the same Ironman competition in Chattanooga that the man we met a couple days ago is competing in. She was also extremely kind and helpful in setting us straight on our journey out of town. After that, we met a couple walking their dogs. They asked if we needed anything to eat or drink, as their house was right up the street.
Kentucky kindness surrounded us all day. It is everywhere that we’ve been in this state. People here say “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.” My new pet peeve is when someone says, “no problem” when you thank them for giving you a glass of water or something that is clearly NOT a problem in the first place! In Kentucky, most service providers say, “you’re welcome,” or “my pleasure.” Common courtesy and good manners not only make for a civilized society, they are comforting when you are a stranger in these parts.
By the time we cleared the city limits of Owensboro, we had already clocked 19 miles. The next 40 miles to Cloverport were filled with beautiful fields of (more) soybeans and corn, some rolling hills, but mostly flat terrain that we thoroughly enjoyed after four days of fairly hilly roads. We also had the privilege of riding near the Ohio River. I love coming around a corner on my bike and being surprised by a body of water. There is something very soothing about riding along a river.
We arrived in Cloverport just in time to meet the pastor of the church we were staying in. Pastor Tim greeted us with a handshake and an aero bed, pillow, and towels. Tonight, we are going to be in our sleeping bags, on top of an aero bed…no Big Agnes for us tonight. Looking forward to church in the morning, we will sleep well tonight.