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Bike Riding on the Bourbon Trail

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We completed the 2022 the Bourbon Burn bicycle ride this fall. It was a long time in coming as a couple of my friends and I signed up for the ride in January 2020.

We initially had the idea to find a 2020 ride for the three of us at the end of the 2019 outdoor biking season (around late October here in Kentucky).  We were looking for a ride that three of us could go on and have fun riding bikes, without any “race” pressure or fund-raising responsibility. We found the Bourbon Burn met the criteria with the added bonus of being about an hour away from where we lived.

Spots for the ride are limited, so for the Fall of 2020 ride we needed to sign up for the ride in early January 2020. Little did we know that we would not ride the event until 2022!

No event was held in 2020; we were allowed to defer until 2021. The event organizers did open back up for a limited ride in 2021, but we deferred again until this year, thanks to the generosity of the organizers.

The ride is a four-day event. One of my friends reserved a campsite at Kentucky Horse Park. We enjoyed the camping experience, even with two of us staying in a hotel. The base camp and camping area of the horse park allowed the other two of us to sample the camp experience.

We all drove down together on Thursday to register, set up the camp and get the lay of the land. The organizers had bourbon tasting on site. There was an optional short ride to both a distillery and a brewery that we did not ride. I think we only have so many days of riding in us as a group.

For the Friday ride we took the medium 45-mile route to Paris, Kentucky, with a visit to the Hartfield & Co. Distillery. It was cold (well under 50) at the start of Friday’s ride, and well under my preference for not riding below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The day did warm up to over 65 at the end of the ride. We all dressed appropriately and were comfortable after we got going. The route was very nice, the people we met along the way were friendly and the traffic on the road was light. Several people looked like they purchased bottles of the Hartfield products, so it was a good stop for everyone. Samples were available for us as well as the typical bike ride snacks and refreshments.

The base camp experience after the ride included tasting several bourbon samples and enjoying the meal on the grounds. A long day and one well worth coming down for the ride and spending the night in a hotel.

The second day of riding had us going to Bourbon 30, a distillery in Georgetown, Kentucky. We took the short route of 26 miles so we could enjoy the beautiful day. It was cold again at the start, just about 50 when we began, and it again warmed up nicely during the ride.

Saturday evening featured live music and distilleries sharing their product as well as the camp dinner. This is a great ride. If you enjoy bourbon and bike riding, like we do, it is a special treat.

The final day of riding placed us on the medium route of 37 miles in beautiful horse (and bourbon) country. We stopped at the site of the Bluegrass Distillery’s coming soon location at Elkwood Farm in Midway, which is currently under construction and opening in 2023. It was again cool to start the ride, but the warmest of the three mornings as we began the ride. The countryside was very pretty and the roads were a joy to cycle on.

After the ride we spent some time at the basecamp, ate some lunch and closed up and had our celebration of completing the three days of riding (108 total biking miles).

Other fun:

Ride preparations were a challenge for us retired guys. In 2019 we were training, i.e., bike riding 2-3 times a week and I was teaching Spinning® at a local gym. In 2022, we were all pulled in different directions, I was no longer teaching and we got together once or twice a week, often just once a week.

Most of our rides in Northern Kentucky go through the “town” of Rabbit Hash. This is a low point along the Ohio River and always a good place to stop and view the scenery. Being at a low point means you have to climb hills to leave the area.

We laughed about training. How do you train for the Bourbon Burn bike ride? Do we bring a bottle of bourbon for the ride and have a few samples and peddle back to the start? A fun joke and we never did do that. We trained by riding bikes.

Our one advantages on this ride is that we live in Kentucky and have to ride hills on all of our routes. One of our favorites, if you can call hill climbing a favorite, is Waterloo Hill. Back in 2021 I was the local legend on that route. No longer. I am not sure I went up 5 times this summer. Still, we did go up that hill and others along the training routes. The hill climbing practice was good as all the routes on the Bourbon Burn had rolling hills as a primary feature of the countryside; we were well prepared to take them on.

Many of our training rides take us from Big Bone Lick State Park and down 338 toward East Bend Road, with a good hill to climb or come back down. We often pass an old steam shovel and other historical markers as well as a ferry from Kentucky to Indiana. I did not make all of our “training rides” and neither did both of my friends. We did more training rides together in 2020 and 2021 than we did in 2022. These pictures from 2022 are places where we either stopped on the route or ended and turned back to the beginning of our ride.

We even managed as a group to see the newest Top Gun movie and gain some inspiration from an impossible mission.

The Saturday afternoon of the Bourbon Burn we were able to go into Lexington and play a round of disc golf, prior to going back at basecamp for the dinner and evening festivities.

See you on the road for our next adventure.


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