Seventeen: Cloudbound (Falls of Rough to Sebree)

by davidharries

Miles: 76

Your first clue that Bob Hardison’s a stand-up dude is in his driveway. He drives a late ’90s Toyota Avalon. My man. But we’ll get back to Bob in a few grafs.

I was up and on the road by 6:15 a.m. (In Central Time for the foreseeable future). I said goodbye to BJ — Louis and Matt were sawing logs. They’re headed to Owensboro tonight — off the reservation, but it’s a big city where they can get plenty of World-Cup action. Right now, they’re riding bikes between matches. Pretty cool.

Falls of Rough was foggy this morning. An ephemeral blanket cloaking everything in damp and low visibility. Traffic was light, luckily. Out of town I caught the tail end of a chase. A pair of hounds went round and round with a rabbit until they went round and round no more. The rabbit lost this one.

The fog burned off by Fordsville, where a driver shouted, “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to have a quart of motor oil, would you?” I replied nope … At which point I realized he was talking to a fellow across the street. We (I) laughed harder than we (I) should have.

I took a break for lunch in Utica, at a Marathon gas station. The ACA maps use a liberal definition when it comes to identifying grocery stores and restaurants. I continue to miss produce in small towns. Many homes have gardens, but if you’re not farming, you’re either living out of the freezer section or driving quite a few miles for vegetables.

In Beech Grove I came across a historical marker for James Gresham, born in town and the first American killed in WWI on November 3, 1917. A dubious distinction.

Home tonight is First Baptist in Sebree, a town of about 1,500. I rode up and met Bob Hardison, who turned out to be the pastor. He and his wife, Violet, have been at the church and hosting cyclists since 1979. The church put me up in its youth center, complete with a hot shower, mattress, A/C, wifi, washer/dryer and a full kitchen, which I didn’t have the opportunity to use as Bob and Violet invited me to dinner in their home, next door. Violet likes to feed “her cyclists” when she can, and cooked for 26 Ride the US for MS cyclists a few days ago (!). She fixed chicken, stir-fried vegetables with noodles, corn and finished it off with a big dish of ice cream topped with strawberries.

Right about 8 p.m., as we were cleaning up, Trevor rolled in. Violet fired the kitchen back up, I chopped squash and broccoli (yeah, veggies!) and we had dinner again. Trevor’s riding from Baltimore to Moab, Utah, where he’ll learn to build energy-efficient homes from the ground up. He’s loaded bike packing style, and covering serious ground (106 miles today). Violet is one of 15 children born into cotton-sharecropper family with an alcoholic and abusive father. Both she and Bob (married 45 years) are dedicated to family (two sons, six grandchildren), ministry and each other. Hearing stories of their lives and those of cyclists passing though was both entertaining and moving.

She baked cookies, too. She says that’s how you know she really likes you.