Day 13: The Best Place on the Entire Trail - Sebree to Utica

An east bounder rider named Alan tells T and I that the Sebree First Baptist Church is not to be missed. I had planned to only take a break to see this sight when pure love and comfort caused me to stay overnight.

The community at Sebree First Baptist Church welcomes me for a lunch feast

The community at Sebree First Baptist Church welcomes me for a lunch feast

The Daily Summary

On Day 13, June 6th, a 25-mile ride begins at Utica Fire Department and ends on the boarder of Illinois in Sebree, Kentucky.

A pain in a tendon behind my left knee caused me to be the last in the Utica Fire Department the night before. A rest day and shorter distances are prescribed to prevent an injury, while T plans two eighty mile days to reach Carbondale early.

Dark Roast and I pass the historic Sebree bank that has been restored by the current CEO, we poke into the pharmacy that sells milkshakes before 4:30 pm, and then pass several Spanish churches to reach the First Baptist Church.

Brother Tony, his daughter, and Violet outside of the church

Brother Tony, his daughter, and Violet outside of the church

Arriving to the Sebree First Baptist Church

Violet welcomes this curious cyclist with a warm hug, “Why hello! Are you staying the night?”

In an earnest way I respond, “Have thirty more miles until reaching Clay. I have heard from several people this is one of the best places on the entire TransAm trail.”

She then tells me to take Dark Roast around the parking lot to the teen center entrance. Violet opens the doors to a room filled with couches, a pool table, foosball table, air hockey table, Ping-Pong table, and a kitchen table lined with eight bar stools.

Welcome to paradise.

Eating lunch with the community

Our tour continues up to the kitchen where several other women are warming up homemade dishes. Coffee is soon placed in one hand while my cheeks are kissed by the many grandmothers.

I hear about grandkids, see family photos, and soon get plopped down at one of the round tables in the dining area.

Dilbert is a gentleman that has grown up in town who has the farmers look of tanned skin, a round belly, and matching trucker hat. You can tell the women take care of him expecting only his presence and humor in return.

The feast for lunch

The feast for lunch

I run over to open the door as another woman brings in too many trays to carry. The kitchen and dining room are filing up as more coffee and sweet tea are poured into Styrofoam cups.

Brother Tony walks in before his family arrives and introduces himself. He is the new pastor beginning the next generation of preaching and care here at the church:

“What is Robert’s last name?”

I told him how one of the military members, Robert, had been hit by a truck the day before. Without hesitation, Brother Tony is planning to leave and visit Robert at Owensburg hospital a few towns over. His greatest concern and source of empathy is imaging being someone that is sick and injured in an unfamiliar place with no family around.

A prayer circle is formed to bless the meal, the community that has come together, a safe voyage for myself, and for Robert and his family as he recovers.

Too Much Love to Leave

The meal with the church’s elders wraps up and guess who ends up with all the food? Five to-go containers are filled to the brim with macaroni salad, pulled pork, lima beans, cakes, brownies, string beans, biscuits, and my mouth is watering finishing this list.

Too much food is left behind for one cyclist. Luckily, Doug and Donna are staying the night here.

A Shortcut Presents Itself

In the cyclist’s map room are printed instructions of a shortcut. Staying on the TransAm is 135 miles to Carbondale. Leaving and following Route 56, which changes to Route 13, is only 100 miles. This would allow me to stay here for the night and get to Carbondale at the same time as Annalisa who has already gone ahead.

It seems like it was destiny to come and stay here. So, I oblige and set up camp

A Little Reunion

Doug and Donna come through the door with Brother Tony and chuckle at my sight. All of them thought I would be further along the trail.

They get the grand tour of this cyclist’s paradise and I tell them they better be hungry.

A panorama of the youth lounge that doubles as cyclist's paradise

A panorama of the youth lounge that doubles as cyclist's paradise

The Scenery

The morning began with rolling hills and more farmland. Never a complaint.

The Sebree Bank has survived multiple depressions

The Sebree Bank has survived multiple depressions

Sebree’s main road is lined with historic buildings that have been preserved by the locals. Any historians will enjoy the brief tour of the bank that is adjacent to the pharmacy.

The employees take pride being located in a building that has been restored by the current CEO. The flooring in the main lobby is original and is over 100 years old.

A tidbit I learned is that banks used to have a “women’s” section separate from the main teller. This is because women could not own land or property and therefore could not have accounts. Women would go to the side where a semi-circle cutout is used to give them change or anything their husband’s sent them to pick up.

The People

Robert and his friends are regulars at the gas station across the Utica Fire Station. They joked that all the nice people are in the next town over. You can probably catch them here every day enjoying the delicious biscuit sandwiches served at this gas station.

Although I did not catch her name, this bank teller gave me the tour of the location. She proudly stated that most banks would have ripped out the historic interior and given the location a modern feeling. However, the CEO restored the original iron working you see at the “cashier” and “teller” stations along with work to the flooring and much more. This bank also survived the major depressions in America (apparently there was one in the late 19th century.)

Oh Violet. You deserve a short movie.

Violet and Pastor Bob, her husband, are known around the world in the cyclist community. She promises to feed every cyclist that passes through Sebree and upholds this word.

I have heard stories of her inviting one cyclist into her home for a dinner, then another, and another, until over ten cyclists are sitting on every piece of furniture eating her home cooking.

She is a woman that has stacks of postcards from places like Poland, Thailand, Japan, Australia, and every state in the U.S.

Violet greeted me at the church and her kindness convinced me to stay overnight. There is not one person she and Bob would turn away from their doorsteps. Their devotion to the community and to cyclists is an example we can all follow.

The Blood Sugar

Can you figure out what time the lunch started?

Giant meals are still the most difficult challenge of this trip. You are a cyclist burning roughly 4,000 calories and want to replace this energy to keep going.

However, the more carbohydrates you eat in a short period of time results in a spike that the currently available insulin cannot prevent.

I tried to focus on eating the lima beans and other high protein, high fiber foods first. The plate kept growing and I kept eating.

The way I approach the evening is to take insulin, wait about 30 minutes, and then eat the appropriate amount of carbohydrates. Eating many small meals over a long period, sometimes called grazing, is one strategy to keep blood sugars more stable.

In the night I go low and end up over eating sending me high during the night (off the current chart.) 

Communities continue to feed us and this is a blessing. The routine diet of many cyclists is eat everything in sight and that is the pain point for us diabetic athletes. How do we balance nutritional intake with blood sugar stability? 

I keep practicing small strategies like spreading meals over a long period to help improve the results for this journey. Every day is a challenge and throws a different curve ball. For today, happy to take it easy on the body and eat as much food as possible.