I recently spent a week at Nags Head, NC on the Outer Banks with my family for our summer vacation. When I was in high school, my parents moved us to Plymouth, NC a small town in the eastern part of the state (on Hwy 64 about an hour from OBX). While living there for nearly 9 months, we visited the Outer Banks and many of the beautiful islands and lighthouses along the eastern Carolina seashore. This was the first time I had returned since our brief residence 25 years ago.
The area is more developed (as expected) now and it is definitely a popular vacation spot. Unlike vacationing in Florida, we didn’t see any other Kentucky license plates, except for a group of friends from our church that were staying up the road from us in Duck, NC. Of course, when I visited the area in high school, it was never during the summer vacation timeframe. My activities included walking the beach, swimming in the ocean, fishing on the beach and offshore, and bicycling!
As far as the cycling friendliness of the area, I would give it a B grade. As is the case with most east coast areas, it’s flat and the wind is always blowing in one direction or another. We stayed in a cottage directly on the beach, so my typical route was to ride north and south (out and back) along the roadway. There is a nice paved, wide walking path in the place of a side walk and there were many folks of all ages using it for walking, jogging, or bicycle cruising. The actual road was pretty wide and had a decent shoulder area that many road cyclists used daily, like myself. There were some spots where the pavement could use some work, but all in all, it was not too bad.
Along the beach access roads, the drivers were very bicycle friendly. I’m sure it helps that it’s not a road too busy with businesses (there’s another 5 lane highway parallel with all of the commercial traffic users). On my last ride, I did venture off the beaten path a little by traveling west across the sound bridge into Manteo and then rode out near Wanchese, a small east coast port town. Obviously, I encountered much more traffic on this journey, but I had no close calls. I used the wide shoulder crossing the bridge but used the road en route to Wanchese and back, and nearly all vehicles passed very safely.
I would like to return again someday and venture out a little further, maybe all the way down the Outer Banks and board the ferry over to Ocracoke Island (probably wanna catch a car ride back home). The scenery, though mostly flat, is very beautiful. The native landscape includes many sand dunes, lots of local vegetation, lots of cypress and pine trees, water views of the ocean, sound, canals and swamps, and a good mix of modern and ancient architecture. Also good confirmation that OBX NC is a decent place to visit (or live) with a bicycle, is the many strava segments that showed up on my rides. I was very pleasantly surprised to place a top 10 overall on one of the bridge segments (considering I’m not in great shape right now).
In closing, I would also recommend planning an offshore trip if you enjoy fishing. The Outer Banks area is full of a wide variety of fish to catch both in the surf and offshore, and plenty of different species are always migrating through at various times throughout the season.
Why Yours Shoud Too …..
Yes, Central Kentucky has lost another life that was struck and killed while riding his bicycle. On the road. Where bikes belong. Where we definitely belong. The Kentucky state legislature just had another opportunity to pass into effect a law that would help make our roadways safer for all to use, however the Senate Bill 80 that passed easily in the Senate, died in transportation committee in the House, probably because of a legislator with some power that didn’t want it passed. Shame on KY lawmakers, however, there is no cycling blood on their hands …
Every time a human is hit and/or ran over while riding a bicycle on the road, it is an accident that is typically caused by someone making a mistake, either the driver or the cyclist. We shouldn’t need laws to tell us to share the road and pass another person safely. We already have laws that tell us not to exceed a given speed and not to engage in cell phone media (or any other activity that distracts driving attention), and not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol … all while driving. And we all know how well these laws are obeyed. What I hope to convey to people is to please quit making this an issue of cars versus bikes; and who belongs on the road and who doesn’t. Let’s please begin to get to the root of the real problem. It’s not about a car killing a cyclist, it’s specifically about a human getting killed while they happen to be on a bicycle. And until we change the mindset of non-bicycle riders that we are actual human lives on the bike, “they” will continue to see us as crazy cyclists. That part could have been helped by our legislators, in my opinion.
Our most recent nearby cycling fatalities just happen to involve very common community citizens. As cyclists, we see ourselves as fully allowed to ride in the roads no matter what the non-cyclist general public think about us (and we are correct). The non-cyclist general public sees us cyclists as crazy, tree-hugging, hippies that ride on the roads wherever we want and are putting ourselves at risk of death every time we ride (and part of that is correct too). This stereotype was actually one that I envisioned of cyclists before I became one myself 10 years ago this summer. While it’s very unfortunate to lose any cyclist life on the roads, two of our most recent fatalities have involved citizens that totally rebuke that stereotypical way of thinking. On our roadways, in less than a year, we’ve managed to kill a lawyer and a doctor within about a 20 mile radius and both just north of Lexington … and they weren’t doing anything wrong (or illegal). They were simply riding their bicycles.
Ironically, both Mark Hinkel and Dr. David Cassidy were members of a local cycling group that call themselves the “Zombie Zone Cycling Club.” I’m not very familiar with their club, however from what I’ve read about them over the past year, they sound exactly like the kind of folks I cycle with most. I enjoy riding in a public group with the Bluegrass Cycling Club on occasion, but I’m more fond of cycling in a smaller group of closer friends more often, and probably half or more of my rides are solo style … just the bicycle, my thoughts, beautiful scenery, and me! The news of Hinkel’s death last year on the Horsey Hundred (an annual charity ride hosted by the Bluegrass Cycling Club in Georgetown) sent me into a dark place, second-guessing my decision to be a road cyclist, and I found myself considering stopping. The location of his death was right out my front door, and it came shortly after I had witnessed a mangled bicycle in a roadway near the beach in Jacksonville, FL while I was on vacation (I don’t know how that one turned out but the scene didn’t look good).
On the same beautiful, peaceful Sunday that Dr. Cassidy was killed riding his bicycle, I later heard the news that one of my best friends’ wife had also been hit while riding her bicycle in Columbia, KY and she and a friend had both been flown to U of L hospital in Louisville for treatment. After communicating with my close friend Schmidty, I have learned the details of their accident and fortunately both girls will live, though not without some suffering. His wife Becca and her cycling friend were struck by a driver who turned out to be under the influence of drugs and probably speeding. Sounds kinda familiar, huh? They are both lucky to be alive! I hope you can enjoy the awesome sport of cycling again someday Becca.
The primary message I hope to get across to all cyclists, wether you ride for exercise, recreation, or transportation is to Keep On Rolling!! A hard learned lesson I learned last year in dealing with my fear of riding, brought me back to the promise that we are NOT in control. We think we are, and yes we can make calculated decisions that seem to us that we are minimizing our risks by not riding at certain times or not riding on certain roads, or whatever … and yes, statistically speaking some risks are more prevalent at certain times, and on certain roads. But we will never be in total control, no matter when or where we ride, and no matter what we do. You can stop and think about all the times in a day that you are at risk of some form of accident and the fact is, there’s some risk of some type of accident that could injure or even kill us 24/7/365! But we never truly know what, when, and where it could or will happen. I made a strong decision last year that if it was my time to go, I’d rather it happen while I was doing something I love, rather than dying while avoiding an activity I love due to fear of risk.
That decision still holds strong today, and I’d be willing to bet I have some cyclist friends struggling right now with the very same fears I fought last year. As unfortunate as it is to lose any life, it’s a risk we take every time we saddle up and go riding. And as unfortunate as it is to lose well known citizens like Mark and David, the community is starting to see us as humans, instead of just bikes. Yes losing people like lawyers and doctors tends to make a little more noise in the public than losing someone like a plumber, or the stereotypical hippie cyclist, but the message must resonate loudly: WE CAN DO BETTER!! I ask and urge our state lawmakers to make decisions that result in better roadways that are safer for ALL to use, I ask and urge our non-cycling citizens to see us as a human life aboard the bicycle you are about to pass (who knows, maybe we happen to be YOUR lawyer, Doctor, or even your spouse or child), and I ask and urge all cyclists (no matter when, why, and where you ride) to keep the wheels of your bicycle rolling!
One final message or request that I have, is for our lawmakers, law enforcement, and persons in our justice system as a whole, to PLEASE start holding the person responsible for killing others accountable for their actions, even when it involves a person riding a bicycle on the road!
Enjoy the ride … @KPtheMasher
I often catch myself in the middle of a ride where I get lost in the moment and think out loud that “this is one of my favorite roads.” Truth of the matter is, those moments can happen on any ride. After deep reflection on this matter, it seems as though I experience two types of fog zones when cycling. I define a fog zone as the moments when I get so lost in thought or releasing thoughts, that I can nearly forget where I am or not realize how I got there. Surely we all experience this from time to time … driving to work or any familiar location and when you arrive at the destination and think to yourself, I don’t really remember driving here?!
Well, when that type of mind boggling moment occurs but you’re not really lost in thought, there’s a good chance that you are traveling along one of your true favorite roads and just happen to be lost in the moment. I’ve realized this more than once. When it’s easy to just look around and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings, or it dawns on you that the scenery reminds you of a time from your past, you’re definitely on one of your favorite roads. Whether you enjoy flats with a challenging headwind or fast tailwind, the pain of categorized climbing (like me), or bombing down wicked technical descents … if you find yourself on this type of road that appeals to you and enables you to utilize multiple senses at the same time, you have identified another one of your favorite roads.
I have quite a few of my own favorite roads, most of them falling in the area I rode most, closest to home. However, there are a few that are driving distance away too. I consider myself a climber. When I think about what route I’m going to ride, I always identify my ride by which hills I can find and climb. I know many others that plan their rides to avoid these very same hills. I’m admittedly not the strongest climber, although when I am in great masher shape, I can hold my own with anyone I ride with. It’s really tough to claim my favorite climb, but I’d say my top 5 are (in no specific order): Clingman’s Dome from Gatlinburg, TN; Mt. Mitchell from Marion, NC; Black Mountain from Cumberland; Little Shepherd Trail Rd. near Harlan, KY; Leaving Burkesville, KY towards Dale Hollow State Park; and Duncan Rd. near Frankfort, KY.
This is certainly subject to change on any given day, but I’d probably name Camp Pleasant Rd. leaving Peaks Mill headed north as my most favorite road. There’s something about that road that gets me lost in the aura of riding my bicycle. It leaves the Elkhorn Creek canoeing hub town of Peaks Mill towards historic Stamping Ground in Scott County. For about three and a half miles it slowly climbs at around 1-2% grade, winding back and forth along a smaller creek bed through the carved out cliffs. It passes a road side church, several other rural roads, and numerous abandoned homes, sheds, vehicles, and other lawn furniture pieces. There’s a falling apart swinging bridge here and there, and other driveways that cross the creek either in the creek bed, or on an ancient makeshift bridge. The grade is easy, you can really push the pace if you want, but just remember it’s several miles long and the final quarter mile turns just steep enough to use up most or all of your gears but only for a brief moment. Then as quickly as you crest the hill, you’re flying down the other side. That three mile stretch to the top is probably my favorite road.
Having said Camp Pleasant from Peaks Mill to Union Ridge Rd. is probably my favorite, it’s not my only one. I would certainly include Lloyd Rd, Gaines Rd, and White Oak in Scott Co. as a few of my favorite roads along with Clifton Rd, Pisgah Pike, and Delaney Ferry, and McCracken in Woodford Co. Glen’s Creek Rd, Duncan Rd, Devils Hollow, Shadrick Ferry, and of course, Camp Pleasant Rd are all of my favorites in Franklin Co. Just a few of my other favorites are Pottershop Rd near Bardstown, Scott’s Ridge in Marion Co, the stretch of the Redbud Ride along the Rockcastle River, the stretch along the creek from Columbia to Burkesville, new favorite is the climb up through Nada Tunnel and Red River Gorge near Slade. Oh and how could I forget a few of my favorites in Bourbon Co? Definitely have to include the Colville Covered Bridge loop and Peacock Rd as my favorites (on some days, those two may be my most favorite). Obviously, the roads that lead up my top 5 favorite climbs listed above, are also some of my favorites too!
Where and what is your favorite road?! Let me know … @KPtheMasher
My friend Rusty Andes has been very supportive throughout the rehab phase of my recovery and I want to publicly say thanks! He was the first person that called and ask me to go for a ride after reading my blog. He joined me on that first slow moving test and several other rides since, including my first Bluegrass Cycling Club ride of the 2016 season. I accepted his invitation to ride a 30 mile loop near Natural Bridge State Park and rescheduled my physical therapy appointment so I could go.
I didn’t give it much thought before hand, I was just happy to be going for another bicycle ride. However, I did remember visiting the area of Natural Bridge and doing some hiking with my family as a kid. The beauty that I witnessed on this ride was not something I remembered though. It’s safe to say I’m already making plans to go back, and as usual, take others with me. It’s too pretty of a cycling route not to show off to friends!
The route we took started from a chair lift parking lot near the Natural Bridge lodge in the town of Slade, KY. We rolled along the highway beside a small creek into town and a few miles later turned onto the Nada Tunnel road which began with a gentle 2 mile climb into the Red River Gorge. Rusty and I separated from the other guys in the group at this point as we were a little faster, but we maintained a casual conversation pace and stopped for a nice photo op before entering the one lane tunnel through the mountain.
Mark (from Winchester), the BCC ride leader that organized the ride, stated he did this route twenty times last year and plans to do it every Wednesday at 10am this year also (weather permitting). Check the BCC website rides page to verify, but it’s only about an hour and fifteen minutes drive from Georgetown to the start point and well worth the trip if you can make it. Paul (from Midway) and Tim (from Lexington) were the other cyclists on this ride, and they were all very nice and pleasant to ride with.
After we slowly rode through the Nada Tunnel, the next phase of the ride was simply breathtaking! We continued our easy pace with conversation and stopped a few times to take pictures as we rolled along the Red River for about 10 or 12 miles. With many of the trees still bare, we were able to witness many spectacular rock formations of all various shapes, sizes, and colors. Briefly before reaching the base of our next climb, we noticed the natural rock arch Sky Bridge, then we crossed the river and began the ascent up to it. It’s a nasty little climb that averages 12% grade for about three-fourths of a mile with a few of the switchbacks that get up around 20%. This was obviously a tough test on my knee, but I managed to get up it without stopping. We rode up to the Sky Bridge overlook area and saw several other breathtaking overlooks, including Devils Canyon.
The next phase of the ride rolls for about 10 or so miles along a beautiful ridge road in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The road is mostly rolling flat as it winds back and forth through the forest. We took a wrong turn leaving the awesome scenery behind, but we realized our mistake about 3 miles later and turned around. This loop nears the end with a very steep downhill segment for about a half mile or so that spits you out right back onto the main highway leading us back to Natural Bridge. A couple more scenic miles on the highway weaving through more forest and mountains bring this ride to an end back at the parking lot. Officially, the BCC loop is 30 miles, we finished with 39 thanks to our trip to the Sky Bridge overlook and our brief wrong turn.
This was possibly the prettiest thirty mile loop I’ve ever ridden in Kentucky. Mark commented that the scenery on this ride is ever changing due to the changes the landscape takes as the seasons change with trees blooming, filling out, leaves changing colors, then falling off and back to bare. His Wednesday ride is strategically set to avoid the busiest times with sightseers and hikers. At the finish, he had a cooler with ice cold bottled water and Ale-8, and snacks including cookies … the perfect ending!
As for me, I’m headed back to full time work soon, and though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my recent recovery time and cycling with Rusty and others, it’s about time I get back to work. There’s a few other friends I’ve wanted to ride with but haven’t got around to it yet, but the 2016 cycling season is just beginning, so we’ll hook up soon enough. As for cycling in the Red River Gorge, I can’t wait to get back and I highly recommend visiting Mark’s BCC ride any chance you get.
I (Kevin, aka the masher) gave up a generous amount of the junk food I like to endulge in for Lent (the 40 day season before Easter), along with Twitter, the other social media network I participate in besides Strava. My reasoning was that I need to get back into my competitive fitness physique and I’m plenty past due for cutting junk out of my diet. Since I’ve been off work recovering from knee surgery, I’ve had extra time to stay caught up on my Twitter feed, and I decided by giving it up, I would use that lost time for exercising. Truthfully, I haven’t really missed it much. I do enjoy the cool pics my friends share on it and the motivational messages posted but sometimes you have to sift through so much negativity, drama, or politcal crap it’s not really worth it. I do look forward to having some pizza and ice cream on Easter Sunday, but plan to stick to my healthy diet moving forward. Thus far, I’ve lost 10 pounds but unfortunately I had gained about 15 after surgery, so I’ve got a ways to go but at least I’m headed there now!
Today I rode one of my favorite routes, a sixty mile loop to Colville covered bridge somewhere between Paris and Cynthiana. I think today was the first time I ever rode it in clockwise direction and it’s amazing the new sights you see just by changing directions on a familiar route. Halfway through the ride, it dawned on me that I see everything on the left of me, but hardly anything on the right. Kinda weird, I’m not sure why I primarily look ahead and to the left but even after noticing and trying to make myself look right, I don’t recall seeing much over there. The things I like most about this route are the very little traffic, the beatiful rolling terrain featuring ridges, creeks and some challenging climbing near the covered bridge, and about 90% of the time the wind pushes you out only to beat you up all the way home. Today was no exception. Almost every ride has its share of tailwinds, crosswinds, and headwinds, but the rides that find mostly headwinds on the latter part of an endurance distance definitely build character and strength. I like it!
Hard to believe I’ve only been riding for almost 3 weeks now and I already have logged 400 miles on eleven rides. Shaping up to be my kind of season! So far, no knee pain, and I feel like I’ve not shied away from hills too much (no surprise to me). I have done the smart thing and not pushed myself too hard, though sometimes I want to. I know the best thing for me to do for now is rebuild my strength and endurance slowly while shedding the excess weight, and the speed will take care of itself in time.
I finally got to ride with some of my high school friends for the first time ever! Well actually, Nathan Rome and I rode together a little bit on the 2013 GABRAKY. But this was our first ride since then and we were graced with the presence of Lucas Barkley, whom I haven’t seen since the early nineties back at Frankfort High. Nathan joked that he was hoping to catch me in my recovery period before I get back to full on beast mode and I ensured him (as I have in the past) I’m never too good to ride with any of my friends. It was a joy cycling around Midway and Millville with them. Lucas is pretty darn strong and I can see some competitive county line races in our future. If only we could get Houston Barber going on two wheels …?! Look forward to our next ride together guys.
I’m going to officially bail out on my quest to complete my third attempt of Assault on Mt. Mitchell this year. I’m fully confident I could be ready to go complete it, though not within my original goal time of below seven hours, but that’s not why I’m bypassing. I honestly thought I’d be further along in my rehab assignment at this point. My original thinking had me riding for about 7 weeks by now, not 3. So I’m simply not going to risk any re-injury due to not being strong enough to complete an endurance climb of this magnitude this early in my recovery. This also means I’m very doubtful to ride in the Cherohala Challenge this year since it’s less than a month after AOMM and also boasts endurance climbing of over 10,000 feet in 120 miles. For now, I’m just going to ride as much as possible to regain all of my strength and endurance early in the season and get ready for some mountain climbing later in the year. I’ll definitely be ready for Madara’s Mountians of Pain birthday ride in August and Gatlinburg is only 3 hours away, so I’m sure I’ll get a group together to go visit Clingmans Dome via bicycle some random weekend.
I do plan to go ride in the Redbud century in London, KY in April now that I’m not ready for the big climbs. I encourage all my friends to join me if possible at this event. You can always guarantee yourself a pleasant route and very friendly rest stops at this venue. What you can’t guarantee is beautiful spring weather, considering we’ve seen plenty of wind, rain, and near freezing temps in the past, but we don’t have any control over that. I’m confident this year will be warm, dry, and sunny and the Redbuds will be in full bloom. Go see if I’m correct!
Five days ago I headed out to ride and snow and sleet were starting to fall. There was no accumulation predicted but I decided to take my bike to the local Legacy Trail and play it safe since the roadway was becoming wet and I didn’t want to take a chance with traffic. All of the bridges were frozen and I cautiously completed the loop to Lexington and back while the snow and ice continued to fall and covered the ground and built up pretty good on my bike. We got 2-3 inches before it stopped. Today temps were in the mid-70s and I rode in shorts and short sleeves. And obtained my first tan lines. Yeah, that’s how our climate rolls around here. It’s Kentucky … If you don’t like the weather, just stick around. It’ll change soon.
We welcome daylight savings time with open arms this weekend. Everyone I know is happy to give up one measly hour of sleep in exchange for longer days, warmer weather, and extra cycling time! So let’s get rolling … Redbud will be here before you know it. Then comes Horsey Hundred, and keep a lookout for the return of our RAM Rides this year. I’m already in the planning stages for Masher’s Hilly Hundred, 4th With Friends (4th of July) and several others! Don’t forget to “spring forward” your clocks on Saturday night.