Day 16: Rest day (0 miles)
Day 17: McKee to Berea, maybe 25 miles. I rode without my panniers (Jim took them in the minivan) and I met the family in Berea. We stopped at the bike stop nearby and my family drove me to stay with Maya, my amazing host & friend from Berea. I can't say enough about how wonderful she was and how she lifted my spirits, especially after saying goodbye to my family. I also successfully changed my first flat tire on my ride.
Day 18: Cycled about 45 miles to Harrodsburg to stay at a YMCA facility; I had wifi, showers, and indoor space to sleep, which I appreciated as the sirens went off twice because of thunderstorms.
Day 19: Cycled about 45 miles to Bardstown, the bourbon capital of the world! Ate well, slept well.
Day 20: Spent day cycling about 52 miles to Sonora, KY to stay at a guest house; it was so wonderful to be cared for by my hosts, Charlie and Rose. They fed me, shared some brews, and I slept so well.
Day 21: Went forward to Fordsville, about 60 miles for the day. The rain fell fast and hard, luckily catching me close to an elementary school the second time. I stayed dry that time, ate my dinner and cycled on a couple miles to my campsite at a county park.
Day 22: Spent the night in Sebree at a church, about 55 miles cycling in Kentucky. The facilities were amazing, and I greatly appreciated the kindness the church showed to cyclists.
Day 23: Cycled about 55 miles to Cave-in-Rock, Illinois!! Crossing over the border felt so victorious!! I met my parents, visiting from northern Illinois, and settled in to a relaxing stay at the state park.
Day 24: Rest day (0 miles)
Day 25: Cycled about 60 miles to Goreville, IL to stay at Fern Clyffe State Park. When I was circling the sites, a gentleman called over "TRAIL MAGIC!", so I rode over and was delighted to find he and his wife welcoming me to their site. They allowed me to camp on their site (so to avoid the $20 fee), fed me a great dinner and cooked me up breakfast the next morning.
Day 26: I woke up, feeling that today was the day I was finished. I can't explain it any better than I woke up peacefully feeling that my adventure was done. I had traveled 1,100 miles on my bicycle, and I felt accomplished and ready to be home. I called my husband, and he was supportive either way. It came down to the feeling that I just didn't want to keep cycling. I had days coming up that were going to be much hotter, Missouri and Kansas intimidated me, from a cyclist's persepective, and I just didn't want to continue. It wasn't that I thought I couldn't; if I was told, "AMY, YOU NEED TO CONTINUE!!", I think I could wrap my head around it and go on. But I just don't feel internally motivated to keep on; I am ready to be home with my children and husband, and I feel really good about what I've done in my cycling adventure. Maybe someday I'll do more, but for now, I am excited to settle into the lifestyle that I left behind, but perhaps with a bit more casual and longer-distance cycling mixed in.
Thank you so much for your love and support! I don't have any regrets and I'm pretty psyched by what I've done. My last day riding (Wednesday) was pretty amazing, maybe my favorite day! The weather was unseasonably cool, the hills were manageable, and I just enjoyed my time. I am grateful I didn't have to end my ride under duress, but instead after a great day.
What next? I'm not sure. I don't have any big adventures planned, other than slipping into what I was previously doing and spending time with my family and friends. Right now, the big adventure is just whatever life hands me. And I can't wait to see what that is.