Louisville Bicycle Club

Louisville Bicycle Club Newsletter — July-August 1997

A Ride Across Kentucky

by Jim Moyers

Note: From May 24 through May 28, 1997, seven cyclists did a ride across Kentucky from the farthest western county, Fulton City in Fulton County, to the farthest eastern one, Elkhorn City in Pike County. Total mileage was approximately 520 miles. The riders were John Bertrand (Bluegrass Bicycle Club), Dick Keith (SIW/LBC), Bill Kenealy (SIW), Pete Schuler (SIW), Ted Wathen (LBC), Dave Runge (LBC) and Jim Moyer, former LBC officer.

For years, I had been intrigued by RAGBRAI, but never got it together to go to Iowa. I also kept thinking that it would be at least as much fun to see a broad range of Kentucky. The other thing which put me off about RAGBRAI was that it was too crowded, and the daily mileage might be shorter that I would prefer. So, last winter, a time when many plots are hatched, Lexington cyclist Wayne Collier and I started talking about riding across the state. Wayne mentioned this to Johnny Bertrand, a very experienced rider and tourist who has ridden every county in the state. Before we knew it, we had a route and the plot was thickening.

Kentucky, fortunately perhaps, is too varied in its terrain for a mast west to east ride. The Cumberland Plateau is very challenging, and the eastern mountains are, well, mountains. Riders who do the Transamerica route typically curse Kentucky for its steep terrain and coal trucks. As we discovered, there are ways across the coal mountains, which are beautiful, and avoid the heavy coal traffic, but there’s no denying that the riding involves some steep climbing.

The combination of a far southern route, with a van to haul luggage, worked well. One day was too daunting-if we had ridden all the way from Glascow to Williamsburg, it would have been close to 150 miles with very difficult hills for perhaps 100 miles. Any repeat trips would break this segment up, except for the Paris-Brest-Paris types.

Spring allowed cooler weather, although tender hindquarters were tested (hence, Team Bag Balm).

Finally, a word on rural Kentucky. I may just be a provincial nut, but I think we have an exceptionally beautiful state with exceptionally fine cycling roads. You just have to be willing to get in the undeveloped counties and read the county maps, and there is almost endless high-quality cycling. I do see the very rural areas receding economically, as there are fewer small farms and stores. Wendell Berry may be right about the future of the family farm, and that will be a shame.

Special thanks to Johnny Bertrand, for his invaluable route design and general wise leadership. Team Bag Balm has declared victory and retired for the rest of the season!

Daily reports from the field

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last updated: 27 June 1997
by Duc M. Do