Monday, April 8, 2013

A Short Preview

A few weekends ago, Erica and I decided to take a little road trip down to Kentucky to check out part of the TransAmerica trail that we will be riding on this summer. Even though our adventure is only a mere 8 weeks away, I think we both needed to see something tangible about the road we will be on. Perhaps it was nothing more than a slight introduction for us…to go out onto the actual roads we will be riding on, as a way of saying “Hello” to the path, which will be our constant companion for the days and months ahead.

If you’ve ever played a sport, given a speech, played a concert, then you can probably relate to some of the feelings we had about this short trip. In basketball, you can practice a million times on a court…but something about that court feels different on game day. With speaking, you can prepare your words over and over in the space you are speaking at, but it all feels changed in a room full of people. I’m sure musicians feel this shift at venues between sound checks and rehearsals to when they hit the stage…the energy is altered when it is showtime. For us, we’ve imagined, dreamed, anticipated, and prepared for this trip in so many ways and for such a long time, but actually getting to be on the road will be something entirely different.

In all of our preparedness for the trip, we have read many books from folks who have also journeyed across the country by bike and they all say the same thing: “Never ask motorists about the roads.” Why? Because driving up and down hills is entirely different than maneuvering a bicycle up and down those same hills. A couple of years ago, I made note of this after Erica and I went on a quick ride to downtown Indianapolis from our home. Downtown Indy is only about 8 miles from where we live. We made the trip into the city pretty quickly, but when we started to head back, I noticed that the ride back felt like a constant uphill climb…turns out it was exactly that. I had never realized this before in my vehicle.

I’m telling you this short anecdote because as we were driving in Kentucky along our route, I started making mental notes about the hills we were going to be climbing in our loaded down bikes. I started counting miles between the big hills and the nearest gas station/convenience store. I’m starting to practice our ride in my head, trying everything I can to mentally prepare myself, though I know the experience will be quite different as we will be weeks into our trip by the time we reach those dreadfully hilly, yet beautiful Kentucky roads. We will have already scaled our way through the Appalachians, and I’m hoping that the roads we will meet again in Kentucky will merely feel like speed bumps by the time we get there. Here are some photos that might help you all visualize the area:

There is also something else we enjoyed on this short trip, perhaps a bit by accident…the path we will be on this summer goes right through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a section of Kentucky where several bourbon and whiskey distilleries are located. We decided to take the short tour of the Heaven Hill Distillery, where we learned a little about the heritage of an industry that remains so important to the economy of the state of Kentucky. We also knocked back a couple of small glasses of Heaven Hill’s finest products, which were quite enjoyable. Also, we managed to fit in a quick stop at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, a National Historic Park located in Hodgenville. We love getting to do this kind of stuff,especially if it involves the National Park system…we are a bit geeky in that way!

If there’s one thing I’m especially excited about while we will be on our trip, it will be the opportunity to see those little historical and local treasures that are a part of the various towns and cities along the way. There’s truly nothing like seeing America by bicycle, and at 8 weeks out, I know I can prepare all I want for this adventure, but when it’s showtime I know the journey will provide a new energy, full of surprises. I can’t wait!

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