Day 8: Southern Parkway Riding: Cave in Rock State Park to Dover, TN. 103 miles, 718 total

We left illinois this morning to spend a few hours riding through hilly western Kentucky and on into Tennessee.

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We arose feeling a bit weary
and knowing that short steep hills and headwinds would greet the day. But first we checked out the Cave at Cave in Rock. Fun fact – marauders hid out in the cave in the late 1700s preying on passing boaters. I put on my best marauder face.

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We enjoyed the scenery a bit before heading to the ferry across the Ohio River into Kentucky.

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Once into Kentucky we were greeted by amazingly courteous drivers who slowed dramatically when they got close to us and often yielded the entire lane to us. We found a lovely porch outside a closed community center in Carrsville where chandra enjoyed a little time I a rocking chair.

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A welcome change from southern Illinois was the lack of dogs chasing us. We probably did 10 or more full out sprints to outrun dogs chasing us from farms. We have Halt pepper spray but really don’t want to use it. There’s nothing like a stoker feeling the threat of an approaching dog homing in on her fast moving legs to “pile on the coal” and increase the speed. It’s exhausting!

But not today in Kentucky. We saw more horses than dogs and enjoyed fall colors lining the path as we climbed over the bluffs of the Ohio River. About halfway through the day, we reached land between the lakes which is a national recreation area designated by JFK. It’s closed to commercial traffic with a low speed limit, perfect macadam, and hunting hiking etc. land on both sides of the road extending the the dammed Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. This is a southern parkway much like the Natchez Trace where we start riding in a couple days. It’s a glorious way to travel! Not only are cars courteous, but bikes are expected to be here so there’s no arguing our placement – not quite so where coal trucks rule the road. I should say yesterday the coal trucks were ubiquitous but also more courteous than many cars. In fact yesterday the coal trucks were stressful and I feel like we stressed them out too. They came by every couple minutes often with little or no shoulder for us to get out of their way. One of them slowed to our pace (and was probably surprised to be following us at 37mph down a hill) for a while so I pulled off into the gravel to let him pass once we slowed as the road headed uphill. He clearly thought we ran off the road unintentionally and stopped to see if we were ok. I bring up this aside to note both that many people express concerns about big rigs and bikers but big rigs have always been professional in our experience. I fear a weekend warrior not knowing how to drive a huge RV much more. But also I want to note that some days we ride through areas where bikers are anomalous or even a danger but today on this southern Parkway we got to shed all such stress and enjoy the ride.

The hills impacted our pace as did the morning headwind, so the last 8 miles or so were in the dark. We have good taillights though and Talula has loads of reflective tape so an little time in the dark is no big deal. We Aren’t at the campsite we hoped to reach today, but it will do and some minor route adjustment has us tapering distance from about 93 tomorrow to 80 to 70 into our rest day in Tupelo.

Today we really also felt like we are entering the south. Accents are different, fall colors are not as far along, the landscape is changing and it’s warmer every evening. So at this campground next to a loud road I bid you adieu until tomorrow when we reach the Natchez Trace.

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