I hear the sharp pop of metal moving. An orange flash falls into the maple tree, getting caught on the handlebar like a makeshift kickstand. The bike has fallen against the tree, settling into it's final resting place. This is a fairly good outcome, as the tree safely separates the crashing bike and the tumbling rider, like a referee breaking up a hockey fight. This is the rider's second attempt charging up a steep hill through the woods; she has bypassed the trail, which is in worse shape than the wild forest floor. We are in a deep gulf somewhere near Slade, KY, with no cell service. The only way out is up.
The old logging road—it’s gracious to call it that—is so washed out that the “easier” option is to attempt to cut around the problem via better traction in the thick leaves and forest floor, skipping the slick, polished rocks and wet clay swept clean by one of the wettest springs we have had in recent memory. The rider is Marisa McInturff (aka “she_braaps” of Instagram fame). Her husband and head mechanic on our trip, Caleb, scurries up the hill to assess the bike as Marisa has already shown us the “I’m fine, but frustrated” body cues. Setting my camera down, I join to help pick up the bike. The GPS mount is broken, and the unit is hanging from its charging cable.
The handlebar has slipped forward from the impact of the tree, but it is loose, and the stem bolts are stripped. Luckily, Marisa’s last-ditch push launched the bike near the top of the hill, and the three of us are able to success-fully push it the rest of the way back onto the trail, completing the bypass. We now have to get Caleb’s bike up the hill past the problematic area. Between the three of us, we are able to ride/push it up to the top. It is now time to discuss a plan and drink some much-needed water.
The Kentucky Adventure Tour
This has been one hell of a trip! We are all pretty beat at this point, waking up at Paul’s Motel in Jackson, KY, on the sixth day of our journey on the Kentucky Adventure Tour, or KAT for short. The trail follows a naming and branding scheme of the more well-known Trans American Trail. The goal of the KAT, similar to that of the TAT, is to tie the most extreme off-road trails with the least amount of pavement using small country roads as connectors. In theory, that sounds perfect, but in reality, it may not be, depending on your tolerance for adventure. The off-road sections can be difficult, as Marisa’s crash proved. Ninety percent of the ride is in Kentucky, but the KAT is loosely framed in by West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee, so you technically will be riding in four states on this ride.