It was a crisp cool morning as six cyclists gathered at the parking lot behind City Hall in Georgetown, KY at the spot where Bluegrass Cycling Club departs for its normal club rides. The group consisted of Tim, Linn, Gene, Curt, and myself who are all five training to ride in an epic challenge at Assault On Mt. Mitchell on May 19, plus one additional rider, a self proclaimed party crasher, Chuck. The ride and route was my idea. I thought an extra century ride would be great for our AOMM training especially since I was able to incorporate a few tough hills into the route. There was some discussion about what to wear as the ride started out in temps in the low 50s and would rise to the upper 70s.
We clipped in around 8am, and headed south toward Keeneland horse racing track. It was slightly breezy, not a strong wind, and the skies were mostly clear, it turned out to be a near perfect day as far as the weather was concerned. Near Keeneland, we turned southwest and rolled past some beautiful horse farms into Versailles for a brief store stop. The next section was our first climbs of the day where we dropped into the Kentucky River valley along Clifton and found the pack split up as we began the climb back out. The Clifton Rd. climb is about 3/4 of a mile over an average grade near 8%, and is mostly straight up with one right angle turn to the right near the top, where the grade is the steepest. Next, we rode several miles, back down to a lower spot in Millville, and regrouped just before our second climb. Turning right onto Duncan Rd., we again clicked down into lower gears with less resistance and pedaled up another mile or so at a lighter grade this time, probably averaging near 5%. At the top of Duncan, we found ourselves on the east edge of Frankfort, the capital city of Kentucky. Another store stop seemed a little quick at this point but it would be a while to the next, and it was beginning to warm, as everyone had now reduced they’re layers to only shorts and short sleeves.
Now rolling back towards the east for a section along the outskirts of Midway, we rolled along some more horse farms, beautiful scenic hand stacked rock walls, and rolling fields of farmland. The terrain was not difficult on this portion as we rolled past the historic Switzer covered bridge and then made an unscheduled stop at a rural Baptist church to repair a flat tire. This was just about the halfway point for the century ride and I loved the message that was spelled out on the welcome sign at church: “When You Feel Like Giving Up, Give It Up To GOD!” After the brief mechanical stop, the group enjoyed a long slightly downhill run into Peaks Mill on a winding road lined with cliffs and trees and the colors of the various flowers in bloom were stunning. This run could have been really fast, but now headed back due west, we found the full on head wind that was fairly stiff. We actually enjoyed the push in our face for about 15 or so miles until we bombed down Hwy 127 hill back into Frankfort for the next store stop. This is where we lost Curt, who had been battling an upset stomach on the entire ride, and he chose to call his wife for a pick up.
Departing the capital city, we rode along the Kentucky River behind Buffalo Trace distillery for several miles before finding probably the steepest climb of the day, another 3/4 mile stairway climb near 10%. This climb placed us high atop the river, where we enjoyed some awesome views of the river valley riding along a beautiful ridge briefly, then once again enjoying a very fun descent as the group was able to play some cat and mouse, taking advantage of drafting each other. But as is usually the case, what goes down, must go back up. “No free ice cream,” is commonly heard in reference to the riding terrain in the bluegrass state. The Shadrick Ferry Rd. climb was, in my opinion the toughest of the day. It’s grade is very similar to Clifton, but it is a winding road so you can’t see the top until you’re there and it stretches a little further, reaching just past a mile. Once again, headed back east toward our starting point, we now found that wind to be at our backs as we rolled along the Elkhorn Creek out the other side of Peaks Mill and began our last extended climb of the day, about a 2.5 mile gradual ascent at an average grade around 3%, with a short steep section near the top. Enjoying the tail wind over this section, we rode pretty fast into Stamping Ground where we made our final store stop. The final 15 miles back into Georgetown was agonizing over some tough rollers with very broken pavement. Our bodies were tiring, it was very warm, and this pavement caused my butt to hurt for the first time all day. Nevertheless, we broke up a little as we pushed strong past Scott Co. high school and back into town at the start/finish line. All riders were complete within minutes of each other, near 4:30pm, and we enjoyed some conversation with other friends who were also finishing their BCC Saturday group rides.
The final stats showed 105 miles ridden over some hilly terrain with nearly 8000 feet of climbing, average air temp near 70, and average pace nearly 17 mph. The most important stat was that we gained more stamina and endurance, and this group has the confidence that we will ride strong in the Blue Ridge mountains when we Assault On Mt. Mitchell in a couple weeks. Yes, we will have to endure nearly another 3000-4000 feet of elevation over the same distance at AOMM, and yes we will all climb at our own pace on the 25 mile climb to the top of eastern US, but we will regroup at the finish and have created plenty of great cycling memories that will last forever. See you at the top guys, when I get there! *masher