A cold and rainy spring in Wisconsin meant some of the madison sunday cyclists’ were anxious to ride and decided to head south to Kentucky for the ‘Horsey 100’ weekend ride. Weather while we were there was sunny and in the 90’s!!!!
The BluegGrass Cycling Club out of Lexington, KY sponsors this ride and it was very well managed. Four loops offered each day ranged from 25 -100 miles, GREAT rest stops, well provisioned with all kinds of goodies, lunch in the afternoon and wonderful helpful staff. They have been sponsoring the ride for over 40 years!!! Above are the route options from Saturday, all lopping from the Georgetown College Campus.
But first we had to get down to the ride. Becky, Charlie Terry and Pam all went down the Wednesday before the Saturday start and were able to ride the optional 22 mile loop on Friday. emJay had a meeting until Thursday afternoon and we didn’t get on the road until Thursday at 4:00pm. We overnighted in Campaign, IL. Easy Interstate Highway the whole way there. Oh . . . and those southerners like to take their casks of hootch wherever they go!!!
The event is held at the Georgetown College Campus with dorms and camping available as well as cafeteria food , a vendor show, food trucks and music!! Whatever loop you decided to ride had an ‘official start time’ used to space the 2,500 riders out on the road but everyone seemed to start around 8:00am. Since the 25, 50, 75 and 100 mile loops all use the same first 20 miles, the roads were CROWDED!!!
emJay, Pam, Charlie and Terry heading down the main drag out of town . . .
. . . past lots of cutesy shops!
But once we were out in the country is was easy riding . . . the road surfaces were all paved with narry a crack to be found . . . a far cry from what we have in Wisconsin!!
Great scenery along the way . . . .
. . . and everyone was very accommodating. Only had one car driver ‘act obnoxious’ the whole weekend!!!
The rest stops were well set up and located about 25 miles apart. LOTS of Gatorade. In fact the woman with the green top standing on the wagon was mixing the power into the water with a canoe paddle!!!
. . . and lots of choices for chowing down . . .
. . . which also had an accompanying guide regarding caloric intake. What planning!!!!
Pickle juice is supposed to help relieve leg cramping. These cups had pickle juice with a pickle spear to munch on to control the cramps.
. . . soon four of us were full and ready to ‘ride it off’ during the 25 miles to the next rest stop!!
. . . happy rider . . .
. . . happy horses!!!
Oh there is quite a Certified Farm Market system in Kentucky, too.
Scenic farms and homes along the way . . .
Houston . . . do we have a problem??? Not today . . . no wind, nice temps, no skeeters and no cars!!!!
. . . and LOTS of great riding and scenery.
Soon we we were at the Finish Line where someone tried to join our photo at the finish. a madisonsundaycyclist wanna be???
Pam and Terry were camping and the BaVo’s and WoHu’s were hoteling it at the Country Inn and Suites . . . where we squired a nice supply of after ride goodies to get some salt back into the old system!!!
That night we all went out to the Broussard’s Delta Kitchen which had only been open for a couple of weeks, Great art, great food and . . .
. . . well earned desserts. emJay and I split one!!
No problem sleeping tonight and soon it was time for breakfast and back on the road for our Sunday loop.
. . . more great scenery . . .
. . . and rest stops, including this one where one of the volunteers, Kelly Jo, was serving up ice. We had met the the day before in a store and learned she was from Wisconsin Rapids but had lived in Kentucky for 20 years because her husband didn’t like the cold!!!
. . . back out on the road the numbers were a lot fewer today . . .
. . . on Saturday there had been 2,500 riders spread across the four loops and today there were only 1.500!!!
. . . I was surprised this was the only roadside memorial I saw in all of Kentucky. Way below the ‘national average’ I have seen on other bike trips. That’s a good thing!!!
. . .on we pedaled down country lanes until we arrive in Paris, KY, our next rest stop . . .
. . . where photos ops were available . . .
. . . with a French flair!!!
. . . more great settings along the way . . .
. . . we even passed over the interstate highway three or four times. Here emJay points to the sign indicating the town she worked in 34 years ago as a new Nature Conservancy employee.
One last rest stop at a local winery . . .
. . . the last stop of the day being know as the ‘Zombie Zone’!!
Fifteen more miles down the road . . .
. . . with several more large horse operations along the way, we arrived back at Georgetown College . . .
. . . for a little late lunch in the cafeteria. Happy pigs . . .
. . . but we opted for salads.
. . . Terry had a little BBQ pork . . .
. . . and we had a nice time sitting outdoors at the ‘Sláinte Public House’ tavern.
No trouble sleeping Sunday night. It was a great two days of riding, we covered over 100 miles and we had all decided to stay over in Georgetown on Memorial Monday to avoid traffic returning home for the holiday. We had two tours set up. One of Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery and one of the Old Friends Stable for retired race horses.
Along with lunch and a stop in Frankfurt it was going to be another full day!!!!
Our first stop, Buffalo Trace gets it’s name from the bison. . .
. . . that many years ago, on their annual migration, would cross the Kentucky River at the site of the current distillery. Thus the name.
Oh and they make some terrific products. So much so that in the gift shop they were completely out of the three brands shown above and only had Bourbon Creme, similar to Baileys Irish Cream left for sale. YUMMIER!!!!
The buildings date back to the mid 1800’s
Hard to believe a distillery could run out of liquor for sale but they had over 5,000 visitors come through in the three days prior to our arrival and they bought it all!!!!
The four story warehouses have bars on the lower windows . . .
. . . originally used to keep the company from sneaking out barrels of bourbon in the middle of the night before taxes had been paid to the revenuers !!!
The nature airflow through the warehouse full of 500 pound full barrels continues for 9 to 25 years, depending on the navigate you buy. The below ground level is the coolest and ferments the best bourbon. The barrels on the top floor produce a more’ modestly price’ version!!! During the fermentation period a barrel can loose up to 47% of the liquid due to evaporation though the wood.
Freddie, our terrific guide, led us on our tour into the basement . . . and explained the whole process, quite nicely.
Their is a ‘railroad’ between buildings to move the barrels of bourbon that includes a train track signal!!! The arrows show the special mechanism that rights the barrel into the correct position so, as it travels down the little hill will, not fall off the trolley!!!
In the special bottling room, for the highest quality vintage, a machine is used to create a wax seal . . .
. . . around the decorative cork top. No production today because of Memorial Day.
After the tour it was time for the tasting . . . where we started with the raw product . . .
Pam gives her approval of the more refined and aged version . . .
. . . after four samples it was time for the Bourbon Cream. YUM!!!
They even had home made root beer for the little ones and non drinkers!!!!
emJay and Freddie had become fast friends. Cary and Scott had been down in Kentucky for the Derby, toured Buffalo Trace and recommended Freddie to us. He was a great guide and nice guy.
After the tour we walked around the vast grounds for a while. Here was a Trompe l’oeil style painting that fooled the human eye as you walked in front of it. The floor lines ran always ran towards you regardless of your position in front of the painting . . . or maybe we had too much BT tasting!!!
Near the river was the ‘special vault’, a building that only held one cask of bourbon, every millionth barrel that is.
This was the 10 millionth barrel produced at BT and it was signed by all the staff that were working the day it rolled off the line. FUN!!!!
Oh . . . and they ship the Buffalo Trace bourbon in generic, non descript trailers . . . maybe to prevent hijackings????!!!!
Pam and Terry bought some of Freddie’s Special Root which we would enjoy with some Bourbon Cream, think alcoholic root beer floats, later in the evening!!
We had notice these large, long, buildings along the highway as we had arrived and wondered what they were . . . ends up they are more bourbon aging warehouses, circa 2010!!!
Buffalo Trace is banking on the bourbon craze not ending any time soon . . . in fact the bourbon boom we often hear about just got a bit louder as has they recently announced their first large scale structural expansion since the 1950s. The expansion is part of the $1.2 billion (yes, that’s ‘B’ for Billion) dollars improvement and expansion plans to spend in the next ten years to accommodate not only more visitors, but more bourbon barrels and more bottling lines.
In to Frankfurt we went to tour ’emJay’s old haunts’. She had not been back to Frankfurt for 30 years and things had changed . . . but Ruth Ann’s Famous Bourbon Balls (think chocolate truffles with a kick) were still in production. Of course we had to buy a box, but no tour today because production was shut down due to the holiday.
. . . in fact it looked like they had raised the tour price from $2 to $5 for the holiday weekend. The ‘temporary’ sticker was peeling off and I could’t help but look behind it!!
The pedestrian mall emJay remember now allowed cars to park on it. . . she was aghast . . . .
. . . but her old apartment still looked well maintained, at least the outside of it!!
A few miles down the road we came to ‘Old Friends’, the retirement farm for past racehorses. Click photo to find out more . . .
It was a beautiful afternoon . . .
. . .as Tom, our volunteer tour guide, gave us a fantastic tour . . . who knew horses could be so interesting. emJay did. As our resident former horse owner, and a prior Kentuckian (we still annually watch the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, etc, etc. ) she was in 7th heaven!!!
Charlie was the first to step up and feed Sun King a few carrots. . .
. . .as emJay fed Eye of the Tiger.
They even have a horse cemetery for the over 200 horse they have on site. Some prior owners have moved their prized horses remains to the cemetery here on site . . .
. . . of course the two Polska of the group were especially attracted to Polish Navy. He was a strong contender for three year old champions, among one of the best crops in recent history. He won 7 of 12 starts, earning $1,118,076.
Pam says Hi to this handsome team . . .
. . . even horses can eat too much resulting in weight issues and hoof problems . . . the solution? put one of these muzzles over their mouth which allow them to graze, but not get too much. mmmmmm . . . wonder if that would work with for humans and the forks we use!!!
emJay was especially drawn to one of the more famous steeds on site, Silver Charm.
Born in February of 1994) Silver Charm is an American Champion Thoroughbred race horse. He is best known for winning the 1997 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in the Triple Crown. He also won the Dubai World Cup (of which he is the oldest surviving winner), and stood at stud in both America and Japan. Upon the death of Hansel, Silver Charm became the oldest living winner of the Preakness Stakes.
After a quick clean up at the hotel it was off to Lexington for our farewell dinner. We ate at Carson’s . . . .
. . . a terrific venue where I had Salmon Oscar . . .
. . . and emJay had scallops on slabs of fried pork belly. VERY Rich tasting . . . she ate it all, along with the grits!!!
Soon it was time to have a bourbon root beer floats back at the hotel, say our goodbyes and turn in for the night. We would all make the 8 hour drive home tomorrow.
Along the way home it became clear that Isaac ‘The Hammer’ was a very successful personal injury lawyer. There are LOTS of billboards for other PI lawyers, too but he took the cake for the most, at least one every ten miles all through Kentucky, Indiana and most of Illinois.
There must be something about the law in these states that precipitates so much advertising by so many lawyers . . .
. . . see ‘The Hammer’s’ 2019 Super Bowl ad by clicking the photo above!!
There is always a choice though, and as emJay pointed out, “In this case it is either the Hammer or the Hottie!”
On the way home we stopped at the ‘Steak and Shake’ restaurant for lunch. Started in Normal, IL, Steak ‘n Shake’s slogan “In Sight It Must Be Right” originally referred to the owners practice of wheeling a barrel of T-bone, sirloin, and round steaks into the public area of his restaurant, then grinding them into burgers in front of his customers. This practice was intended to reassure customers of the wholesomeness of the product; at that time, ground beef was still viewed with some skepticism by the general public, based on the likelihood of its having deliberate impurities introduced into it. No mention of what is in the burgers today.
BUT it was one of Charlie’s favorite hang outs when he was in Champaing during his college years. He is shown above, by the red arrow, seated with another guy both looking for girls!!!!
It was a great trip! Relatively close to home, some fabulous riding, great weather, great food and great friendship . . . and we got to help celebrate Becky’s birthday (one that did not end with a 0)!