Mar 2016 16



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.

@KPtheMasher @RAMCycling