Apparently there is a yearly ride in March made by some of the Indiana and Kentucky ADV riders to, well, break the ice and give the new season an official start. This past weekend was that ride. There are a couple groups that ride in from different areas and finally meet up in Cave City. This year, there were 4 who came in from Indiana, and 7 of us from Kentucky. The final destination was a small, but nice, campground which had a few cabins on it located just outside Mammoth Cave. It was Rock Cabin Camping.
Those of us riding from Louisville all met up at a gas station just off I-265 on Taylorsville road. There were 6 of us riding out in 24 degree temps at 10:00 am. The route took us through all kinds of different roads that meandered all over the state. The total route was just shy of 200 miles, but it took us 6 hours with one stop for some great BBQ. We went from 2 lane, well-traveled roads to single lane and some gravel. The roads were nice, and akin to last weekend’s ride, we all of a sudden found ourselves where we wanted to be, even after being nearly lost.
After a quick bite of food, we headed out and were able to check out “Kentucky’s Stonehenge” that looked like it was put up by someone who had too much time, too much money and very little else to do. It was neat, and it was a great day to make these kinds of stops. It was in the middle of Mumfordsville (I think that was the town’s name). We all got stopped there, and were getting off the bikes when all of a sudden, there is a bike on the ground. Luckily it was not mine (would have been expected considering I was the newest rider). A quick straining of cold muscles got the bike upright and we got to look at some of the stones around the area.
From here, we had a nice ride through some more tiny roads and ended up having a very nice tour through Mammoth Cave park as we headed towards the campground. It was getting somewhat late in the day (around 5 or so) so we called it when we got there. During the whole day, it only ever got to 41 degrees. As we all gathered around the fire to settle in for the night, the crew came in from Indiana and a couple more from KY. We ended up with 8 people around the campfire with most of the Indiana crew staying down the road a bit in a motel. We had the typical “guys sitting around the campfire telling stories” evening, and as one of them said “every time we get together I go home with my face tired from smiling and stomach hurting from laughing” and that is just how it was that night. After many beers, bourbon, snacks, pipe bowls (tobacco, people…) we all hit the sack about 10:00 to 11:00 pm.
When we woke up, it was about 30 degrees. The plan was to head out around 7:30 to 8:30 am and grab breakfast in town and then meander our way back into Louisville. Well, it was a little bit of a slow start, but that was not terrible. Gave the temps time to come up a bit and when we rolled out, it was nearly 35 degrees. However, before we could roll out, we had to get a couple bikes up and running. One had a battery that went dead overnight and had to get a jump start, the other had a flat tire. Took about 30 minutes, but we finally got juice in the battery and air in the tire and were on the road. Back through Mammoth Cave park and on to the small country restaurant for breakfast we went.
When we got done eating and got back outside, we found the temps up over 40 degrees already and it was barely 11 am. We got on the bikes and kinda headed north and east, in a very round about way. We meandered along the smallest roads that would keep us going in the general direction of home. There were a couple places where I had a few pucker moments with regards to leftover gravel and sand in some of the turns that made the front wheel get a little squirrely. It was handled with reduced speed and letting the bike right itself (it drives better than I can).
We stopped at Lincoln’s birthplace in Hodgenville for a quick break and to check out the cabin. At this point, I ended up switching gloves and losing the balaclava as the temps were continuing to climb. As we left, and headed home, I was personally relishing the fact I could fully move my head now without the balaclava and my hands could actually feel the handlebars and the controls of the bike. I made a decision to work on getting some heated gear (gloves most important) for next year when the cold comes back full force. With the higher temperatures, we kick back off towards home again. We took every single back road we could find.
Finally, we come around the bend and I find we are right off I-65 where you get off to hit Jim Beam and Bardstown. We gas up and head on what turns out to be one of my favorite parts of the trip. As we ride past Beam, we turn off the road and again get on a single lane road that takes us north and east through some nice landscapes and farms. Waves from the random people in cars and walking were nice – traffic was generally very good both days. We end up taking one side road that winds at the bottom of a hill for a few miles, past what looks like a freaking castle and has all kinds of “no trespassing” signs everywhere. As we get to the end of the road (for us) there was a relatively small water crossing. The water was not deep, only about 20 feet wide. The problem was there were 2 of us with street tires on. While I probably could have made it with some help, one of the other guys on a cruiser (Honda Shadow) would have had a lot of issues. The problem was on the other side, the steep and muddy bank had an incline that would have caused problems. And it was very wet, all the way up. If we had been coming from the other direction, it would have been fine.
After turning around and heading out, we got back on some roads heading north again. The scenery was changing as we went. Less were the small homes and farms, to neighborhoods and small commercial areas. We were in Jefferson County finally, and it was just after 4:00 PM. The temperature had gotten all the way up to 58 at one point, doubling our starting temperature. I ended up getting home by 4:30 PM and getting the bike unpacked and the gear stowed shortly after. Once home and settled, I just relaxed, realizing how hard I worked to ride on the small roads with guys who have been doing it for 30+ years. While there were times I slowed them down (gravel…) they never complained or asked I drop out. All a bunch of good guys. As we said our good-byes, we promised to ride again soon, even if it was just a day trip.