72 miles (116 km) – Total so far: 857 miles (1,379 km)
My stretch goal for the day was to put together back to back 70+ mile days to make it to Mammoth Cave and do a tour in the afternoon. This is because their first tour of tomorrow morning wasn’t till 9:00 AM. Now that I’m in the central time zone (a fact I discovered many miles after it had made the transition), there are a good two hours of light before the morning commutes and school busses start. Two hours without traffic is a precious thing to give up, and I know I’d be tempted to just skip it rather than waste a relaxing and cool morning where I could be cycling.

I cranked out a good 20 miles before I was tempted off my bike. A store named Best Donuts beckoned to me. Simple message, effective, right to the point. I mistakenly ordered a “chocolate glazed” donut rather than the “chocolate cake” donut that I wanted. After making my intent known through remedial charades, I was harangued and abused for my poor understanding of donut nomenclature. This experience was similar enough to the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld that my expectations for donutty goodness increased. I was not disappointed. They were, in fact, very good. Best in Kentucky, as far as I know, which admittedly is not very far.

Best Donuts? Persephone liked them. Columbia,KY.

Best Donuts? Persephone liked them. Columbia,KY.

Presumably the donuts are the best.

Presumably the donuts are the best.

Sadly, donuts may not be the optimal riding fuel. Not 30 minutes later, my energy was flagging. To be fair to the donut, this might have to do with the fact that I’ve cranked 315 miles and 17,000 ft of vertical in the last five days and I stayed up late last night to watch Godzilla at the local theatre. I slowed it down some and increased my food and water intake. A further 20 miles of grueling winds 2 points off my port bow continued to make pedaling a chore. One bright note however: the farmers in this part of Kentucky are responsible for growing all of the yellow used by the world economy. I stopped at a church parking lot and took a shot of Persephone among the fields of gold.

You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky. As we cycled in fields of gold.

You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky. As we cycled in fields of gold.

What finally got me out of my funk was a motivating factor so foul that my more squeamish readers should abandon hope for the rest of this post and see me on the other side of Mammoth Cave. I’ll wait…

Still here? OK, you asked for it. Apparently, farming yellow takes a lot of fertilizer. The method for applying this is to take some manure…. liquify it… then pump it up into the air about 5 feet into a spinning fan contraption so that it flings twenty to thirty feet in every direction. Now, if it happens to be a day with 30 MPH winds, and there happens to be a cyclist directly down wind of your field…. well, that might just motivate such a cyclist to pedal like he’s trying to get out from under a shit shower.

…. Fortunately, I didn’t get hit. But for the love of all that is holy it STANK. Finally back in my groove, miles 40-60 flew by and I found myself in the town of Cave City. A cute little cafe served up the tastiest ice water with a BLT sandwich on the side. As an added treat I met Mark. Mark is an avid cyclist and has done some touring. It was a pleasure to have a conversation with someone so interested in what I’m doing.

Mark, from Kentucky

Mark, from Kentucky

The final ten miles went by in a haze as I entered Mammoth Cave National Park. After securing a camp site I scrambled to get to the start of the final tour of the day. The tour was about two hours and focused on the history of the cave. It turns out that I gawked at the same caverns that tourists have been gawking at for almost 150 years. There was tons of graffiti on the walls dated from the mid 1800s and even earlier. I felt a strong connection with the people of that time period who had the same stupid impulses that we all share today.

National Parks are always a pleasure to end the day of riding.

National Parks are always a pleasure to end the day of riding.

One of the entrances to the Mammoth Cave tunnels.

One of the entrances to the Mammoth Cave tunnels.

A cvaern in Mammoth Cave.

A cavern in Mammoth Cave.

A cavern in Mammoth Cave. It was incredibly dark in this cavern. This is shot at wide open aperture, 4000 ISO, 15 seconds of exposure.

A cavern in Mammoth Cave. It was incredibly dark in this cavern. This is shot at wide open aperture, 4000 ISO, 15 seconds of exposure.