The high level of humidity and the comfortably low temperatures this night resulted in complete soaking of the rain fly. There were some really questionable people camping near my tent so I felt the need to keep the bike close and locked to the tent, but fortunately there was no problem.
Just as I set off from the campground at 8:30, I ran into two young eastbound cyclists. We biked through Berea and into the countryside together. Ben was a mechanical engineer and Phil was still working on his degree in the same field with one semester left. They had met through bicycle racing and were very strong riders with this being their 32nd day from San Francisco and apparently I was the first cyclist they had met on this trip that was able to keep up with them for more than few kilometers. I had struggled a bit with motivation the last few days since I was well ahead of schedule but meeting up with these guys and riding at their pace was perhaps just the nudge I needed. After getting chased by a pack of 5 dogs that were so fierce they nudged Phil's bike, we stopped after 80 km in the town of Booneville, where people were a bit questionable. The accents in this whole area had been so thick that I really struggled to understand what people tried to communicate, but I took comfort in the fact that even Americans had trouble understanding it.
The rest of the ride we encountered some very steep and long hills. I stopped to try to capture the steepness of these hills while the guys pushed on so I got to work really hard to catch up with them, but surprisingly I managed to catch them further up the climb. These roads were very steep, narrow and windy, going up as well as down with no shoulder or fence but all that made for some really enjoyable descents.
We had also passed through some really depressed areas today that I had heard tales of from westbound cyclists. This part was known for some poor coal mining towns that hadn't done very well, rabid dogs and steep hills.
Apart from being chased a couple of more times, the rest of the ride to Combs went by with no incident. We had decided to split a motel room so when we got there, I hooked up to the wi-fi, googled up a pizza hut 2 km down the road and brought back a large one to the room. We spent the night eating and watching TV and Ben and Phil offered me a taste of a dessert they had been making throughout the trip consisting of root beer and ice cream.