Louisville Bicycle Club

Louisville Bicycle Club Newsletter — November-December 1997

An “Amish” WACKY — Part 2

by Michael Lowe

Editor: This article was originally posted to the KyCycList mailing list on Monday, June 30, 1997. When we last left Michael in Part 1, he had gotten kicked by a horse, but managed to stay on his bike!

In Munfordville I called home to leave a message that I was at the half way mark and all was fine. I deferred telling Kay about the horse until I was safely across the Tennessee border.

Don filled my water bottles, I ate another Cliff Bar and an energy pack, then headed south on 31W to Rowletts, then off onto 335, still heading south. KY 335 is a beautiful route that swings a little west toward I-65 and passes through Kentucky Down Under with its kangaroos and buffalo and then passes Mammoth Onyx Cave. At 218 WACKY goes east on 218, then again heads south on 335 at Horse Cave. It passes the perfect bit of 50’s automotive Americana — Wigwam Village — and intersects 31W at a Dairy Queen.

There I stopped for a cheeseburger and a huge glass of ice water. Sitting outside the Dairy Queen I met a couple in their 80’s who saw my bicycle and came up to chat. Back some time ago the man had taken a troop of Boy Scouts on a bicycle ride from Louisville to Nashville, three days with overnight camping. They wished me luck and I headed off.

Just past Cave City the sun disappeared behind a huge thunderhead, which was enjoyable, but I began to watch the sky for signs of a rain storm. Then at the 103 mile mark I had the first sign of a cramp in my hamstrings. I think sitting Indian style at the Dairy Queen contributed to the problem. For five minutes I stretched on the side of the road, then continued on, still watching the weather, toning down my pace to a steady 16 and easy climbs on hills.

At Park City 255 took me south towards Bon Ayr. There I stopped at the Suzie Q dairy bar and had a great big cold glass of milk (my least favorite drink — but Kay says it stops cramps and it certainly did seem to work the next 50 miles). The proprietors asked about my ride and were kind enough to give me a supply of saran wrap to seal up my cell phone. By this time it was decidedly gray and there was a cool feeling of rain in the air.

At 255 and 1297 the rain started and I pulled over to rest under a thick tree. It never rained hard, just a nice gentle shower. I ate some more of my packed food and waved at Duc as he passed me, grinning, and shouting “Come on, let’s go!” He must not realize I melt in the rain.

After about 20 minutes the rain dropped way off and I set off, but then it started with bigger drops. I stopped again, just onto 1297 and Mary Margaret came along in the SAG van, having swapped positions with Don. We chatted for a while and then she drove on. The rain quit shortly thereafter and I followed.

I passed Duc at the Railton store. He was sprawled on a bench on the front porch having a snack. While he invited me to “sit for a spell,” I needed to keep going. I never guessed that I would not see anyone again until the end of the ride — 53.8 miles ahead.

The rain was evaporating off the road in a thick steam, raising the humidity momentarily. But the end of the storm also brought wind for the first time. A fresh breeze from the south at maybe 5 to 10 mph. It helped to cool me off, but it also made the open stretches a little bit harder.

Just west of 101 the route turned south on Iron Bridge Road. This was a pleasant, shady county road that took me across the Barren River. I started to notice that the hills were becoming more of a challenge, my legs growing tired. For a few anxious miles I thought I had dropped off the WACKY route when I realized I was on Hayes Road, not Iron Bridge, and the turn was 961, not the cue sheet’s 861. But a young farm couple sitting on their front porch in the cool shade (sanity on display) said I was indeed headed into Boyce, Kentucky, so on I pressed.

The corn stands high outside Boyce and the winter grain is already ripening. I felt like singing “America the Beautiful” but decided it was too hokey, and besides, I needed to save the energy. With my water running low, I stopped at a church to cool off in the shade where the breeze could still catch me. By this point in the ride, somewhere around 130 miles I had finished off two 70 oz camel baks and at least three more full waterbottles. The camelbak running dry did surprise me, though. Fortunately, I rolled into a store at Rte. 231 with a little left. I filled up just as Mary Margaret pulled in with the van. I accepted her offer of a banana and we laughed and joked about the horse. I told her I was surprised the others had not caught me. She said they were only eight or so miles back, having split into three groups. I asked her about the upcoming stretch and she correctly described it as the worst of the rollers. I bid adieu and headed off to face the final challenge.

Fairview Road, Massey Hill KY, south on 622, into Simpson County and on to Gold City. It was a good road and pretty countryside, but on this stretch I had my head down and my rhythm working. At Gold City I took a brief break to stretch and then it was on west along 585 toward the I-65 overpass. East of Franklin, just short of the intersection with 100 I laid out in the front yard of another little county church for a few minutes, letting the breeze blow over me and watching a woman mowing the grass in the adjacent cemetery. When I began to think about just staying there for a while, I got up and rode on.

As I headed south on 73 I began to notice that the shadows now definitely ran from west to east and the air was cooling, especially in the shade. At the bottom of Kenny Perry Road I stopped just after the “BIG BUMP ON DOWNHILL SLOW!!!” marked on the cue sheet. The relatively steep black top downhill comes to an abrupt end with a two- to six-inch drop off as it crosses a concrete ford over Drakes Dry. I watched the water flow under the ford and ate my last energy pack.

Mary Margaret had correctly said that after this point it would get flatter. I pushed against the wind (was it fresher, or was I more tired?), past a pretty golf course, looking over at the weigh station on I-65 at the four-mile mark. The golf course had all these beautiful fountains, ponds, sprayers, etc. But I kept to the road.

I must confess that as I crossed I-65 again and fought the wind along Tyree Chapel Road that I started looking over my shoulder. I wanted that Tennessee line without being passed. I dropped down on the handlebars and pushed my speed to 18 or 19. There was no green sign, but somewhere I crossed into Sumner County Tennessee and the cars sprouted Tennessee tags.

It felt great.

I met another cyclist (sans helmet - tch tch) along TN 258, who confirmed my location (the cue sheet said 255). At the TN/KY border on 31W I thought about waiting for the others to catch up. But I was pumped, and the wind was finally at my back, so I rode on - turning on Little Springs Road at the fireworks store. The change in the pavement told me I was back in Kentucky (our blacktop is better). Shortly thereafter, beside a pay fish lake, Don and Mary Margaret passed me in the van. “Only a little ways. Almost there!” she shouted from the van window.

At Butts Road I turned briefly again into the wind. Yuck. But I could see the McDonald’s interstate sign and the adrenaline took care of the breeze. At 6:40 pm I slid into the McDonalds, doing one victory lap of the parking lot.

A very enjoyable challenge. Rides like WACKY are one of the reasons why I joined the Club. A physical challenge, a beautiful ride through the rolling terrain of Kentucky, camaraderie with fellow bikers — even hokey episodes where I want to break into song. I could have done without the horse incident, but the Lord looked after me one more time and now both I and the young Amish family will have a good story to tell. Jim McDonald, another new Club friend, and I have something in common — completing our first WACKY. And I had the opportunity to spend another day in my life with good people, and fellow WACKY’s Paul Battle, Duc Do, Mary Margaret Williams, Jay Palmer, Don Williams, Adrian Freund, Eddie Doerr, Rory Whitaker, Jim McDonald and Debbie Browning.

So that’s my story... and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: There is one other person who participated in this year’s WACKY, and that’s David Ryan. David finished the southern and normal portion of the WACKY at about 5 pm. He then turned around and headed back toward Louisville. If all went as planned he should have finished Sunday morning around 3 am. 340 miles, less than 24 hours. Now there’s another story....

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last updated: 6 November 1997
by Duc M. Do