"The van-supported tour is a week behind us! I can imagine a short trip being van supported, but three months! No way! Lightweight road bikes? Racing ahead?" Bianca shook her head in disdain, pivoting away from the exhilarating view of the Break Park mountains from our lodge balcony, seeking the warm shelter of the room.
The night before, my co-cyclists were sleeping outside in a city park in 30-degree temperatures with a continuous rain making it cold and clammy. That same night I was overheating in my king-sized lodge bed, waking up with a heat-infused headache, after arriving the evening before with my malfunctioning bike. The chain and spokes were jammed into the bike's cassette and weren't able to be turned.
Sitting outside, soaking in the misty view over the mountains, where the night rain changed to a mist and random downpours, I watched Bianca and thought quietly that a van-supported ride sounded amazing. Nothing to carry while just flying down the roads? I wondered how much more the van-supported tour would cost.
Bianca turned around and sat down next to me on a chair while I was squatting on the floor.
"So, what's the plan?"
"I found a car in Pikeville with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Still sorting out how to get there. I think my options are to hitch hike or try to fix my bike and make it a fixie. Also, it's embarrassing to have a fixie. I would be a hipster."
"Would it be a fixie or would you have a single speed?"
"I don't know. I will have one gear." I shrugged my shoulders. The correct term seemed benign. "As long as I can cycle the 20-30 miles with my bike to get a car."
"Won't they pick you up?"
"Nope. I called them, begged them, explained the situation. The answer was 'they will check.' "
She looked at me. Her deep blue eyes searching for more details.
I shrugged my shoulders.
" I did not hear back from the thousands of calls I made! The front desk woman told me that the park rangers might be able to drive me. But she never got back to me."
I spent most of my day on the tablet and phone trying to find a way to get from Breaks to Pikeville, Kentucky to pick up the rental. I talked to the representatives at the Pikeville Enterprise, who sent me to Norton because that office is closer than Pikeville.
The Norton representative was like one of those Jawbreaker candies: the outside is real sweet, but it breaks your jaws. He would pick me up from anywhere even with his own car, but Pikeville was closer. I asked him if he would be so kind as to call the Pikeville representatives to explain that to them. After 5 minutes he called me back and was very apologetic. He said Norton was about a 1.5-hour drive away and as much as he would love to pick me up he really couldn't. Pikeville never called. In the end, the 1-800 USA Enterprise made the reservation in Pikeville.
I asked the front desk clerk at the Break Interstate Park Cabins if she knew of any way I could make it to Pikeville or Justiceville, where Enterprise was willing to pick me up from.
"Oh that is just terrible! Did you ask the car rental place to pick you up?" the elderly front desk woman said with a saddened and concerned expression.
"Yeah, no, they are not willing to go that far."
"Well, dont you worry about the other rooms. You can stay where you are and I will call you when the rooms for your group are ready. I can also ask the park rangers if any of them go in that direction. You know, at times they need to get out there to pick up stuff."
"That would be great if you could ask. I would appreciate it. Could you let me know either way?"
"Can I give you my cell number?"
Six hours later I still had not heard from her.
At 3 p.m., I stopped by the front desk where another younger receptionist welcomed me.
"Would you know the status regarding the park rangers?"
She looked at me with a smile but seemed slightly confused.
"I talked to the previous receptionist about my situation...."
Her smile seemed to be glued to her face as well as her confused expression. I retold her my story and situation. That's when her smile turned into a concerned expression.
"She told me a lot, and I wished she would have told me about that! Let me text her and ask her! She might be driving and it will be a while before she will get back to me."
I stopped by at 4 p.m. only to learn that no, none of the park rangers could drive me. And yes, the rooms were ready a few hours ago.
"So far the plan is to bike with my fixie to Justiceville, which is about 20 miles away. The route seems pretty flat with an elevation gain of just 1,200 feet. I'll get them to pick me up from there, come back here, pick up the rest of my stuff and then head to Lexington," I explained to Bianca after a while.
"Isn't Paul coming with you to Lexington? Couldn't he pick up the car? His bike is functional!"
"I have not asked him yet. He has different options to get there. I wanted to discuss it with him after dinner."
Paul heard his name while he was cooking our group dinner over the small camp stoves on one of our balconies.
"Yes, I am going with you to Lexington. I can pick up the car."