Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sunday, We Raced The Train

A handful of riders were polled.  What makes a good group road ride?  They answered: a steady pace, the “best” riders in town, a challenging route.  Obviously those 5 riders skewed the results by having Bath Salts in their water bottles.  I’d answer with road rarity, pleasant conversation, good friends, animal sightings, blue skies, temperature in the mid 70’s, low humidity, great views, and a small general store.  If you said average speed, few stops or anything having to do with physically riding the bike, you need to stop treating your bathroom as a pantry. 

Rolling To Visalia on Decoursey Pike in Kenton Co. KY
Looks like I missed a good one yesterday,” Mitch, the owner of BioWheels bike shop, said to me Monday night.  “Yeah.  Great route.  Nice pace.” I tossed back too quickly.  Before my Bath Salt brain could dig for specifics, the phone rang.  Mitch answered.  I finished the conversation in my head as I concentrated on wrapping my wife’s handlebars with new tape and getting the spacing just right, no visible logos.  I’m thinking maybe it was the chat at the Visalia convenience store’s picnic table that made the ride so special.  I’m not sure what it was about, but it was light hearted, definitely not politics or even a hint of negativity.  Then I remembered the turn off the beaten path up a road called Moffett in rural Kenton County Kentucky.  To date, there are only 4 people on the Moffett Strava Segment KOM list, all of them on Sunday’s ride.  The climb crested at a farm with two horses at the fence, one umbrella tree an infinite amount of green rolling hills.

In Cincinnati, people rave about the Hyde Park Kroger grocery store with an in-house Starbucks, Sushi chef and wine tasting bar.  While the price tag of the designer jeans and shades of Eastside shoppers may rival the carbon fashion show I see on the Wednesday night ride, the best cycling food stops have no aisles.  There’s nothing better than leaning your bike under a hand painted sign that reads “General Store” and hearing your cleats clop across boot-worn splintering hardwood floors.  You better bring cash.  They make change from a lock box.  If they do take credit cards, the scanner is the analog beep-booop-beee type.  Better yet, they don’t sell gas.  In our area I’m partial to the Claysville and Rabbit Hash General Stores.  It’s a well earned 2 hour ride to either.  Third on my list is the store we stopped at Sunday in Visalia where 536 crosses the Licking River.  While it’s not as historic, far away or nostalgic, it has a picnic table out front.  If you approach from the South, it comes as a nice highlight at the end of a two mile one lane road that parallels the railroad tracks called “Vises Trail.”  Sunday, we took the turn off under the bridge and raced the train as its whistle screamed loud enough to raise goose bumps on my legs.

Technically, it is a barn.
Even after living here for 12 years, a former cheesehead, Kentucky horse farms still hold a mystique for me.  The horse farm on Sunday’s ride was small compared to those outside of Lexington.  There you’ll see horses along the white roadside fence with gorgeous shiny brass bridals, some even with their name on them.  In the distance, the freshly painted wooden fencing leads to an exquisite barn that makes your suburban home look like a refrigerator box under an overpass.  Periodically, you’ll see horses with hoods over their heads, ghost horses.  At first glance it seems a little cruel their eyes are covered up.  Yesterday the horses didn’t have hoods and their whole heads were swarming with flies.  I learn something every time.  The two, one brown one black, were grazing under a tree near the top of the Moffett Road climb.  It was the only patch of shade in their corral.  I felt bad our presence made them shy away and saunter into the sun.  Still it was gorgeous.  We were on top of a ridgeline, horses in the foreground and a sea of soft green hills and valleys in every direction.

What were we talking about again?

1 comment:

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