Pearl Jam practice run, day 2: Corinth, KY to Lexington, KY

Miles ridden: ~45

Hours between point A and point B: 4.5 (Really! Including rest stops I’m at 10mph. Not terrible)

“Thumbs up” from cute drivers next to me at stoplights: 1

Shitty, quasi-Appalachian hills conquered on a 75 pound bike: countless

Well-wishers encountered at pit-stops: 2

Trail Angels encountered: 1 (stay tuned for the story. It warms my heart’s cockles.)

Music: Pearl Jam mix; Primal Scream, “XTRMNTR”

***

Today was such a better day on the bike than yesterday. I knew what to expect from the load, I felt no time crunch since I started early, and I had less miles to cover. Whatever apprehension I felt yesterday about my plans for the next hundred days or so was stifled.

I woke up early at the campground, wanting to get a fresh early start to avoid heat and maximize my time resting before Pearl Jam takes the stage tonight. The office at Three Springs opened at 9, and as the owners live on the property, I didn’t want to wake them. So I waited for an hour and read up on think(ish) pieces Facebook tells me to read, as I am wont to do when there’s time that needs killing.

I was on the road by 9:15, and immediately started feeling the hills. I felt surprisingly fresh given how exhausted I was yesterday, but I cruised down some Kentucky hills that are going to kick my ass tomorrow when I head back to Cincinnati on this same road (US-25). I decided to stop thinking about it so much and just dig the ride. I was mostly successful, but still…

I made my way out of Corinth into Georgetown, and the riding was mostly uneventful. Not a lot of drivers to worry about and the ones that did pass me did so safely for the most part. The wind was coming out of the south, which means it was beating me up. I tried not to worry about it though. 

Traffic and development picked up as I got closer into Georgetown. Several suburban drivers did double-takes when they passed me, and I have to admit, I kind of love when this happens. It makes me feel like I’m doing something extraordinary. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. But we all want to feel special, right? I guess lucky for me a bulging bike greases those wheels.

Mercifully, there was a bike lane running through Georgetown which ceased to be right when the road gave me the precious gift of a huge shoulder, my first of the tour so far. They’re better for me, and definitely better for drivers. I may be a rabid bike rights guy but The truth is, behind the stiff middle finger to those that pass me too close, I don’t want to inconvenience any drivers on the road. I just want a safe patch so I can move along in my completely legal (yet perhaps unconventional) way. On my way out of Georgetown at a stoplight I noticed a tatted up woman with huge sunglasses and a beaming smile in the car next to my right checking out the bike. We made eye contact, I smiled, and she gave me the thumbs up. I want more of this…

I started to feel the ride in my legs as I made it past the Kentucky Horse Park, but as soon as I passed it, I joined the awesome Legacy Trail that took me right to the hotel. I love, love, love hike/bike trails, and this one was gorgeous. Pretty sure it’s new. 

In short order I made it to the hotel, where I preceded to get undressed and into the shower to scrub off 100 miles of sweat and road grime. It was an incredible shower. I couldn’t help thinking that in the tour ahead of me, going a mere two days without a shower is going to be a luxury. I guess I’m going to have to learn to love being dirty.

I unloaded the bike in the room and started to pedal down the road a couple miles to Rupp Arena to get ready for showtime and to check out the scene, and more importantly, find a safe place for my bike in a sea of 20,000 Pearl Jam fans. The crowds were out early and already pumped. I rode around Rupp Arena looking for the tour busses. I’ve ridden to shows before and I figure the safest place to lock the bike is next to them. This being a PJ show, there were five busses (presumably one for each band member… I feel bad for Boom Gaspar. I guess he bus hops to each show?) and countless semis for all the tour gear. I see security, and I turn on the charm, basically explaining that I’m desperately worried about bike theft. And I pulled a one liner out of my ass that I’m sure I’ll use again to generate sympathy in such situations, although it’s completely true: “some people have kids. I have my bike.” They were eating it up, but they were powerless. They sent me to the security office at Rupp. No dice.

I proceed to lock up in what I guess will be the safest place but I’m dubious. I start thinking. Just so happens there’s a swanky Hyatt attached to Rupp Arena. I decide to go talk to the manager. I explain the situation, say I rode from Cincinnati, and am happy to pay for them to stash my bike during the show for piece of mind. It totally worked, and didn’t cost me a dime! Whitney, the front desk manager, put my bike in her office. I told her “I’d give you a hug but I’m bathed in sweat, plus it’s inappropriate.” I told her she’s a trail angel and that I’m genuinely grateful, which I am. Whitney ensured that the rest of the night would be filled with good music and not concern.

I sat around till show time, grabbing more than a couple bites to eat (I’m allowed on tour!) Before queuing up at security for the doors to open. Traditionally I’ve done this to get gig posters, which I have a thing for, but seeing as how I’m not going to have any walls here pretty soon I didn’t see the point. But I do love the ritual of a gig and seeing a venue fill up. Plus, Pearl Jam makes unique stickers for each show they do, and my bike needs one. I got that done then sat around people watching (a favorite pastime) till Seattle’s finest proceeded to blow us all away.

Pearl Jam generates mixed reactions from people. I’ve been mocked more than a few times for liking them as much as I do. But love them or hate them, they’re the only band that can make an arena gig intimate. 20,000 people singing Alive or Better Man in unison while the band gives it their absolute all, every night, for three hours… 


I love Pearl Jam shows. Tonight was my fourth, and it didn’t disappoint. So many of my favorites were played, and the big surprise was in the second set when they played Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. Blew me away. I feel cleansed – partially because the ride back to the hotel was in the rain. And that rain will continue over the next two days back to Cincinnati. Yay.

Well, this was an overly long post. But it was a great day on the road and at the show. Tomorrow it’s back to Corinth and the cabin for the night.
-J

One thought on “Pearl Jam practice run, day 2: Corinth, KY to Lexington, KY

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