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Misc. Weekly Ride Reports..

Last Day Ride in March 3/31/15

Written by Jon Wineland

Byron Nagel and Jon Wineland met at the riverfront a bit after 10.  It was in the 50°s and a stiff west wind was blowing.  There was a barge down by the power plant, and  a thick diesel exhaust was in the air.  But, things were looking up since we were going downwind first. 


The municipal restrooms at Vaughn and West haven't opened for the season yet, so we stopped at the campground just east of the bridge.  As we departed, there were three guys sitting at a campsite gossiping, talking about deer hunting, wishing us a good ride, and saying they knew this guy who had ridden 125,000 miles.  Yup, we know him, too. Don Wells is becoming famous!


Highway 56 out of town caught full force of the wind and we traversed the mile to Eagle Hollow in no time, conscious that we would pay for this later.  The wind is fickle in the ravines and we even had a few blasts on the climb up.  Eagle Hollow paving is not as nice as it once was...fair caution advised for those descending.  We headed to Ryker's Ridge through more of the wind and down Wolf Run, which is really nice with the new paving.  At the old Manville store, there was a road crew staging to do who-knows-what to a county road somewhere, but they had several dump trucks, a road grader and a front end loader to do it with.


On China-Manville Road, the headwind was letting us know that any Western territory sacrificed was going to cost us to regain. We climbed up Bacon Ridge and the bottom and various areas on the ascent were still thick with cinders, dark evidence of our late winter snowfall.  Once we got to Highway 62, we were in great shape again, with the wind at our backs and singing along at 25mph.  At least Byron was.  I can't sing.  Byron had heard that Highway 62 will be closed for a time to replace a bridge--at the bottom of the Canaan hill, he thought.  That doesn't (necessarily) mean that bikes wouldn't be able to transit the construction site, but may influence our route choices this summer.  Likely such a project would take several months, perhaps 3-4.  (This was our experience on Highway 36 to Carrollton, over in Kentucky.)


Sadly, the Highway 250 hill to Pleasant has been chip-sealed, and although the road surface isn't terrible, it's actually much better where the chip-seal has worn off, or where the chip-sealers missed a gap at the road edge in a few places.  Near the top of the climb, there's a last 50 yards or so that's especially steep, and this is where we re-emerged from relative calm back to the tailwind.  It was making haunting noises in the telephone wires and on a support cable for a utility pole.  But, so what, we had a tailwind.


We went to the Old School Café, a mile North of Pleasant on Highway 129. We learned that they are now open 7am-2pm daily except Mondays.  They also do special dinners on Friday and Saturday nights.  The previous ownership did fold, and then a new set of people came in, but they lasted only a couple of months.  Then "Harley," who used to wait tables at the original Café, and her husband bought the establishment.  I think the building space is leased.  The Café is struggling financially...they lost money last summer, and are now just breaking even or making a bit, but sinking a lot of their time into it for low return and wondering how they will move forward. So if any of you entrepreneurial types want to make a pro bono project of advising a struggling country restaurant, here's your opportunity!


While we had lunch, Byron got a text from Stacy Crawley.  She had been in the pool, not for training, but for physical therapy.  Just glad to be back in the water!  Titanium, first isolated by Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1825, density 4.5X that of water.  It floats, who knew?  At least when Stacy is kicking it, and you know she IS.  Gently.  At first.


The Smith Ridge climb was brutal, into the wind.  At the top, in a fenced in wooded area, I saw something that's clearly been there a while, but I never noticed before.  There's barb wire fencing, 3 or 4 strands like would be used for livestock and some 30 feet off the road edge, behind the fence, was an outhouse.  And not an old one, this was built with plywood.  There's no apparent house anywhere nearby, just the outhouse in the woods.  Built by bears?  Go figure.


We got to the Moorefield Store with ice cream on our minds and Marla, the proprietress, obliged us directly.  She and two local guys were out drinking beer and smoking cigarettes on their back deck in the sunshine and--importantly--in the lee of the building.  Byron asked if they had seen any cyclists this year, but none since Byron and Paul Lapham visited.  This reminded Marla that she was surprised not to have seen Paul because she owes him $30.  She reflected on the contrast between the cyclists and the smokin' drinkin' crowd and recalled that 25 years ago, she used to run 5 miles per day, but now it's difficult to bend over and tie her shoes.  We asked why she stopped.  Stuff happens, things change, but she acknowledged there's no one to blame but yourself.  She first called us health nuts, but I pointed out that ice cream wasn't exactly health food.  I had one ice cream & Byron had...well, never mind, because he bought mine! Or I think he did--he may have charged it against Lapham's credit. Thanks Byron!  The Moorefield Store has a "Bikers Welcome" banner and Marla agreed to snap our picture.  The two local guys suggested we could hoist a 1/2 gallon jug of 'shine for the picture, and one offered to go home and get us some. 


We escaped Moorefield with a few pictures, but no moonshine.  However, we were barely out of town when a guy coming the other way in a van slowed down and called out, "Hey!  Do you know Rich Ries?"  He turned out to be Steve Rens (sp?) from Harrison, OH.  He's retired and has a piece of property on Greenbrier which he is hoping to retire to, when he can convince his wife. And get running water.  He knows Rich from Versailles State Park mountain bike trail building days and is often exploring our area for road and MTB rides. We gave him some MABC contact information and may hear from him again !


At Macedonia Church, there's a commanding view of the west (you can even see the top of the Clifty Power Plant stacks from here).  Accordingly there was also the commanding force of the Northwesterly wind, unrelenting and unmitigated by anything.  So we were quite happy to descend back into the valley to Little Brushy Fork and then Brushy Fork to take a little break at Manville.  There was no sign of the road crew and all their equipment.


Manville Hill is a little more holes than road these days, and Byron and I remarked that we could never recall a time when it had been repaved, so that might be some 30+ years of history.  Not recommended for descending, at least on a road bike; it would not be pleasant.  Still, it is a scenic climb, and we can dream of the day when it hits priority for paving !  We climbed up to Pleasant Ridge and returned to Ryker's Ridge.  (Guess what?  More wind!)  The fire department had a call as we were going by, somewhere out on Cross Road or Old 62, judging from the sirens.


We turned South to Telegraph Hill--Byron wanted to end on a tailwind note! 


We finished up on Vaughn Drive with 56.8 miles and a 20mph average...that's the wind speed, not our speed. 

It was a great day out with five big climbs & a definite advertisement for early retirement or skipping work. 

It's supposed to be 70°F Wednesday!



Kentucky Pentathlon Ride to Smithfield & "Our Best" ...the report

by: Jon Wineland 4-18-15

Event #1, the Drive
Tom Pritchard and Marty Leiske joined me around 10am for this ride.  Marty had asked me ahead of time for our GPS coordinates, which was a good thing, because his device didn't recognize R.D. Kendall Road.  We get that a lot.  Marty let us know that he would ride only to lunch as he and Denise had an arrangement for afternoon work in Madison for an evening event.  Tom let us know that he'd only ridden about 100 miles so far this year.  Today was to change all that. 

Event #2: Ride
The morning was still a bit chilly when we set out, but this did not last long. Highway 421 to Bedford was pretty busy with traffic.  Thunder Over Louisville was today.  It's Spring.   People are busy, dogs are frisky again.  Get used to it.  Beyond Bedford, we turned off on Bedford-Sulphur Pike, where you can draw in a deep breath of quiet, scenery and low traffic count.  Off to our left, I saw a statue at the far edge of a field, along the tree line.  It was sort of an odd place to put the Virgin Mary, and then I noticed she was wearing cammo and carrying a shotgun.  When I waved, she waved back.  Turkey season started in Kentucky last weekend, but it did not look like this hunter had been successful--yet.  Turkeys are very wiley, probably why Ben Franklin proposed them as the national bird.

We made a stop at the Little Kentucky River where Tom's picture was taken. Bedford-Sulphur Pike used to cross this waterway on an iron bridge with a wooden road deck which has been replaced by a more modern concrete span, continually repainted by the efforts of local graffiti artists (multiple colors) and the KY DOT (concrete grey).  The old bridge is still there, but many of the deck timbers are missing.  There's a weir in the river here, and often there are turtles basking on it in the sunshine, but not today, since the water flow was too vigorous.  However, there was a pair of Canada geese poking around on the weir wall, in spite of the water.  This is also a popular fishing spot for people.  Marty has been doing some training for kayaking and was eyeing up the river's potential.  In spite of Tom's enthusiasm for the venture, Marty did not think that a kayak trip over the weir wall (a drop of some four feet) would be a good experience.

A few miles beyond along this road, there's a farm which in the past has yielded all manner of chaser-dogs over several canine generations; the patriarchy and matriarchy have provided vigorous pursuit of your author and others in previous rides.  Today was no exception, and five of them (by Marty's count, who was behind me and saw this all happen) came boiling out of the yard and driveway, like a swarm of angry yellow-jackets.  Since I was in the lead, I accelerated away with the dogs, but also noticed a woman leading a horse away from us on the other side of the road, so she wasn't seeing what was going on (and neither was the horse).  I slowed a bit, having known of cyclists getting kicked by spooked horses.  Two of the dogs were now running right up with me, so I unclipped and kicked the one at my feet.  This proved a good deterrent, but not to his companion.  We were now closing in on the horse and the woman, still unaware, and I called out that we were coming up from behind.  The woman cinched up the lead, but the horse was a little spooked and turned sideways in the road, facing away from me, but more importantly, those back feet were lined up for action.  Marty wasn't too sure that I wouldn't get the same treatment from the horse that I had just given the dog.  I shot the gauntlet between the horse on my left, and the remaining dog posse on my right and was able to sprint away from there. 

The wildflowers are just getting started, and some wild phlox were making an appearance.  And, of course, the redbud is absolutely brilliant right now; there's a lot of it along the river.  In unintended tribute to Kurt Kahl, Marty said, "It doesn't get any better than this."  Yes it does, wait'll next week!  There's a bit of a climb out of the river valley after Sulphur, and we had another dog encounter there with a couple of German Shepherds.  There was a tattooed guy on a motorcycle in the driveway, who confirmed what the dogs' behavior already suggested, that they had smart collars and an underground fence.  They did not give chase and we would not have been able to outrun them uphill.  Atop this climb, in fine counterpoint to the dogs, I noticed a front porch over-run with seven cats.  They did not give chase, as cats cannot usually be bothered.  (Although we once had a cat, known to chase off dogs and to face down deer...but that's another story.)

Event #3: Lunch!
When we got to "Our Best" in Smithfield, Denise Leiske was waiting for us, as arranged, to retrieve Marty.  We all went in to lunch and the restaurant was nearly empty.  We ordered, and I made a quick visit to the restroom.  When I returned, the restaurant was packed, with motorcycle riders from the "Man-O-War" club in Lexington.  Denise had the inside scoop...there were 45 of them and they were expected.  And our lunch order was in front of theirs !  "Our Best"'s quality was very good today in my estimation, improved from the past.  Two of us had the lunch special (blackened chicken) and two ordered off the menu.  We were too full to consider dessert.

After lunch, Marty and Denise were off to Madison, while Tom and I dawdled on the porch.  They have some re-purposed church pews for waiting patrons and Tom had recently finished a woodworking job, shortening church pews for someone.  We spent part of the afternoon chatting about lumber, sawmills, chainsaws and surface planers, but eventually, we did some riding too.

#4 More Riding
At Mt. Olive, I was shocked to see the only (apparent) business--an auto repair shop--burned to the ground, with several vehicles, charred and now rusting in place on the lifts.  Tom, ever the observant firefighter, calmly remarked, "The hot spot must have been over there.  It might have started in the grease pit."  Let's hope their grease pit and everything else was insured.

After a busy and trafficked trip on KY153 from Pendleton to Sligo, we made a stop at "Country Collectables," sitting and watching the world go by while slugging down Gatorade.  The smoker was idly shimmering heat out the stack, probably between batches of their excellent barbecue.  From here, our route was a bit busy on US42 and 421, but not without amusement. 

Bray's farmstand shop had a door open, and since they serve ice cream, we stopped.  However, they were only selling jellies and jam and do not officially open until 1 May, so we did not linger.   Just down the road was a small billboard describing some free community education opportunities, but someone had attached a smaller sign to sell something else (unclear what), resulting in free education billed as costing $40. Still, a $40 free education is a far better deal than ignorance.

US42 and 421 are rumble-stripped, as they are in Indiana, and the rumble-stripper contractors in Kentucky are not terribly consistent about staying at the road edge, so the gap between the rumbles and the asphalt edge ranges widely from a nice bike lane to unrideable.  So the last foot of the road edge is basically unusable.  The traffic was a bit busy and not always as courteous as we might hope.  Tom had a few auto encounters a bit more intimate than he would have liked, but as we came in to Bedford, the traffic got real polite after we noticed the KY State Trooper sitting at idle by the roadside.  J

Having failed at Brays, we stopped for ice cream in Bedford (Tom's treat--thank you Tom !) and consumed it on benches by the courthouse.  Ice cream is Jim Schell's secret weapon for finishing the RAIN Ride across Indiana, but we had only 10 miles to go. 

We finished  with 59 miles, about 4X Tom's longest ride so far this year. 
Marty had about 31 miles (and 1381 feet of climbing, also a record for him in 2015, so far) at lunch.

What a great day! 
I'm glad Tom and Marty were there--it was the first time either had done this ride--and sorry the rest of you weren't!


PS:  A Pentathlon, with only four events?  Event #5 was the drive home. 
I was already home, so I mowed the grass instead.


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