Due to our late night last night we don't even start getting out of bed until like 9 a.m., which is fine by me. I replace the dressings on my hips with 3 band-aids each and decide to leave my knee open to scab up. Breakfast is boiled eggs only so I also have a can of sardines in tomato sauce and a real-sugar coke which I had bought at the dollar store before the tractor pull. The small amount of caffeine helps me get ready but I'm still really slow. The gentleman who had driven us to the tractor pull shows up to bid us farewell at some point and we thank him again for the indoor stay. Rolling start is after 10 sometime.
The first couple miles of the day is uphill and I'm really tired and fading so I fall behind immediately. There are times even that I have to walk my bike up steep bits, which I never did yesterday. Also, it's raining on us--nothing fierce, just a steady and relentless condensation--and that makes my pedals slippery, especially when I'm changing gears. So I have to stop and take a while to finally adjust the cleats in my shoes so that I can clip into my pedals and keep traction. When I finally reach Breaks Interstate Park the others are waiting for me, talking to some other touring cyclists who just finished a tour thru the Ozarks to here. They take a group picture of us at an overlook of the park, which has a fabulous view. A semi-circle of green mountains, suspended in mist and cloud, surrounds us, cut thru by a rambling river. We take our fill of pictures and then press on to the Kentucky state border, which is only a few miles down the road from here. We stop at the sign and take more pictures, saying goodbye to Virginia (whom we will dearly miss!) and hello to a brand new state.
When we reach Elkhorn City, KY, we stop at a little place called the Rusty Fork Café to celebrate. When I sit down and take off my cycling gloves I realize that my left forearm and hand are really swollen... I go into the bathroom to take off the bandage and give my wound time to rest. The others check out the menu and while I do order and drink a sprite I can't bear to hear them order or watch them eat delicious poisonous food in my exhausted and hungry state so I go outside to eat some potato chips and beef jerky under the awning of a bank across the street. Tho' it's still raining, it's actually warmer outside than inside with the air conditioning so I just stay out here until the others are done and I pay them in cash for my soda later.
(I finally figure out that the cause of my severe nausea for the past few days was probably all the ibuprofen I've been taking for muscle aches, so I go buy some generic tylenol to try instead. As long as I take less than the daily max amount and don't take it every day my liver should be fine and it's a lot better than throwing up all the time.)
Travis helps me re-dress my arm wound right before we get moving and the rain lets up for a little while. We have two climbs on very small local roads where dogs are generally left unchained and unfenced and they come and chase us way too often. Travis is in the lead and gets asked some creepy, suspicious questions by some hillbillies with thick accents so he turns around to meet the rest of us again and not travel by himself in the front anymore. The downhill is nice and then there's another spike of winding uphill, this time with a sheer drop cliff to the right for a lot of it. At some point I move too slowly to go up a steep bit of hill and I can't unclip fast enough to save myself so I fall over in slow motion onto the knee I already banged up yesterday. My knee hasn't scabbed yet due to the rain so it's oozing yellow and falling on it opens up another bleeding wound beneath the first. I walk BK up the rest of the hill because I don't want to fall on my knee again or off the cliff. I'm fading really fast and feel awful and grumbly and then it starts raining really hard and as we descend on a narrow bendy road the sky lets loose and drenches us and actually I start laughing at this point because it's just funny I guess and we all howl and shout with absurd glee until we reach the bottom of the hill.
At the bottom is an ice cream stand and the others are like, it's raining buckets on us, why not get ice cream? So they get various flavors of soft serve and milkshakes and I eat dark chocolate peanut butter and marshmallow fluff by the spoonful out of my handlebar bag. We don't even know what town we're in and we've only gone 35 miles but because of the weather and late start we're kinda ready to stop for the day. We do some iPhone and google searches for nearby things but a gentleman whom I'll call J.G. comes to get some cheeseburgers and fries at the stand and we ask him if he's local and he is and does he know of a place anywhere nearby that we could camp for the night? He says there's a community park about 2 miles up the road but why doesn't he go drive up there and make sure it's okay for us to camp there before sending us down on our bikes in the rain, and while they cook his cheeseburgers that's what he does. When he comes back he says we have permission from the guy who lives on and takes care of the park so we thank J.G. profusely and cycle uphill for another couple miles (which is really hard since we're so close but I'm moving so slow) and then we're there.
It's small, two pavilions and a playground and a bathroom and a community center. We put all our bikes under the roof of the bigger pavilion and during a break in the rain we put up our tents in the horseshoe pitch behind it. It's nice to have our bikes under shelter overnight and we lay some things out to dry on the picnic tables too (even tho' we know in this humidity they'll still be wet in the morning anyway). The boys use a firestarter our dad gave us to make a fire with damp wood on the barbeque grill and it works splendidly and they use it to cook sausages while we use Travis's camp stove for the rice, beans, and greens. Immediately after dinner I retire into my tent to sleep, because my everything hurts and since today was a short day tomorrow is going to be extra long to make up for it.
At least there'll be proper toilets in the morning.
distance: 35 miles
riding time: 4 hrs 17 min
avg speed (for me only, of course): 8.1 mph
max speed: 36.3 mph
odo: 775.7 mi
[pictured below is Ben, barefoot and still in his cycling clothes, retrieving a piece of firewood longer than he is tall]