Populaire d’Indecision

I rode my first LBC populaire in July.  There were several of us RCCS guys on the ride.  I was quite slow, riding the ‘bent, and still recovering from my neck issues, yet I still had people riding with me.  As I recall, there was also a good turnout for that ride.  I also barely made the time limit due to stopping too long for lunch in Lagrange.

I rode another one in September.  My neck was healed about as much as it ever will.  Timothy advertised it as fixie-friendly, perhaps for a stronger rider, and I rode my single-speed.  I walked a few hills, but I enjoyed the ride.  I also rode alone most of the time.

Yesterday was the November populaire.  It was billed as a “distillery tour”.  It left from Buffalo Trace in Frankfort.  Strangely that was the one distillery that I didn’t get to visit.

I managed to get a ride from Timothy to the ride start.  I was well stocked on food as I had no intention of stopping to eat during the ride.  I was riding the LHT with trunk bag for clothing and handlebar bag for everything else.

Buffalo Trace from the parking lot
Buffalo Trace from the parking lot
There were a total of five of us gathered for the ride.  The other four were much stronger riders than I.

We headed out on Wilkinson Blvd and made our way to Bridge St, where an metal-grate bridge goes over the Kentucky River.  My fat tires on the LHT mean that  I couldn’t really even feel a difference in the road surface, but the fact I could look down and see the water below was a bit weird.

At this point, Timothy and David King had pulled out into the lead.  I was in the middle and the two other riders back behind a bit.  I had hoped to stay near other riders as I’m not good at reading cue sheets and GPS data was not provided for the ride.  I did have my GPS tracking my route though.

Eventually we turned left on Devil’s Hollow, our first real climb.  It’s a little over a mile long and varies between 6% and 10%.  It was a workout, but I never felt the need to drop into the granny gear.  I am slow on climbs though, and it was in this stretch that the other two riders passed me.  I was now riding alone, less than four miles into the ride, and would remain riding alone for the remainder.

I was looking for my left turn at Pebblebrook Way followed by another on Pea Ridge.  I was riding along and noticed that I sailed right past Pea Ridge.  I turned around and went down Pea Ridge, assuming that Devil’s Hollow had turned into Pebblebrook Way.  It wasn’t until reviewing my GPS track and maps today that I realized I missed the turn.  My error didn’t save any mileage, so hopefully RUSA won’t care.  🙂  Actually, they probably would care if I were trying to get Brevets in to qualify for PBP, but I’m not.

Anyway, at this point I was unsure I was going the right way.  I’m lousy with cuesheets and I was beginning to wonder if this whole thing was a bad idea.  Maybe I should have stayed in bed.  Adding to the morose attitude were these remains on the side of Pea Ridge Rd.

It used to be a deer
It used to be a deer
I was frustrated with riding alone on a group ride.  I was frustrated about not knowing where I was at.  The cue sheet seemed a thin thread to keep me going.  I was frustrated with the headwind I’d been fighting my whole time on Pea Ridge Rd.  I came to KY-1665 and headed south.  This gave me confidence that I was indeed headed the right direction.  It also took me directly into the wind.  It was at this point I remembered I had to eat on the bike.  I grabbed a pop-tart out of the handlebar bag and started chewing it while sucking wind.  Not a good combination.  I almost choked.  A few swigs of water later I was better.

I followed KY-1665 along until S Benson veered away, then I followed that.  This brought me to KY-151.  I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I’ve driven KY-151 many times.  It was part of the route I would drive to Harrodsburg when Kristy lived there.

If the route would have taken KY-151 all the way to the 127 bypass, I would have realized where I was, but the route made a quick jog west on KY-512 then south on Puckett Rd.

Puckett Rd was narrow and scenic, but the first half mile had a number of houses and a bit of traffic.  Once I got beyond that area, traffic thinned out.  I stopped to eat and drink (about three minutes) so I didn’t choke on my food, and continued on.  This eventually led to Hammonds Creek Rd, which is busier than the maps would lead you to believe.  I was passed by several large diesels blowing fumes at me.

My mood at this point in the ride was dark, but I was still determined to follow the cue sheet and had no further issues with it since the Pebblebrook Way thing at mile 3.8.  I also knew that I’d eventually be going the other direction and this damn headwind would be a tailwind.

A short jog on KY-44 and turn south on Powell Taylor Rd.  The terrain around Powell Taylor was wide open.  There was no shelter from the wind.  There were often short stone walls that were falling apart.  That’s part of Kentucky I enjoy, but something a little taller to block the wind would have been nice.  The first half of Powell Taylor Rd was a slight climb, followed by a gentle descent.  A group of cows in a field scattered as I rode by.  I nearly choked on my snack again as I tried eating and riding.  At least getting a drink of water was easier.

There was a quick jog on US-62 before I turned southeast on Mill Creek Pike, or KY-513.  It looked much like Powell Taylor Rd, but had a yellow line down the middle.  It was fairly low-traffic.

Rock wall along Mill Creek Pike
Rock wall along Mill Creek Pike
A quick turn on Bonds Mill Rd (still KY-513) brought me to the first control.  At 30.9 miles was Four Roses distillery.

Four Roses warehouse for aging the bourbon
Four Roses warehouse for aging the bourbon
It as a beautiful, if windy, day and there were plenty of tourists coming and going from the gift shop.  I was in a hurry.  I ran in and used the restroom, refilled my water bottles, and got my card stamped.

Four Roses distillery
Four Roses distillery
I had a couple of questions from the other tourists about my bike, the silliest was “does it have shocks?”

There are rosebushes decorating the grounds around the building.  Quite fitting for “Four Roses”.  I was surprised to see some semblance of roses on them in November.

More than four roses...
More than four roses…
I headed back out and felt a ton better.  Knowing I was almost half done with the ride coupled with having full water bottles did a lot for my mood.  I had also adjusted to riding alone again, and was enjoying myself.  No, there was no bourbon consumed.  🙂

KY-513 continued eastward to US-127 (or is it the bypass, I don’t know).  I had to make a left here, and did so without incident.  I saw the “By-Pass Motors” sign that I’ve seen dozens of times on trips to Harrodsburg.  I knew I was south of Lawrenceburg (Larryville?)  What I didn’t realize is that the route was taking me in a big loop around Lawrenceburg without ever going into town.

I also didn’t realize that my right turn at Harrodsburg Rd was the old 127, so I went past it briefly before figuring it out, and doing a U-turn on the bypass.

I headed north on Harrodsburg Rd.  There was surprisingly little traffic considering it’s the former US-127.  I guess the bypass is really working.  I was approaching the town of Lawrenecburg, but I would turn east on Wildcat Rd before reaching town.

Wildcat was pleasant.  It was slightly rolling, but eventually began diving into the creek valley.  At this point the pavement ended and the route followed the one section of gravel.

Wildcat Road
Wildcat Road
The beautiful scenery of Wildcat Rd was marred occasionally by junk dumped on the side of the road or even in the road.  I had to ride around a mattress.

Once reach the lowest elevation it’s going to, Wildcat bends sharply left, the pavement begins again, and a rather eye-catching house greets your entrance to Tyrone KY.  Tyrone is a (former) town along the Kentucky River.  I’m guessing it floods often enough to be unsustainable.  There are more former houses there than occupied ones.

Welcome to Tyrone
Welcome to Tyrone
Following Tyrone Rd along the river is pleasant until I come near the quarry.  The gravel trucks rumble by often throwing gravel and diesel fumes.  One passed close enough at full throttle that the jet of exhaust coming out the side warmed my leg briefly.

Then there was a nice climb up to the Wild Turkey Distillery.  I was hoping to run in, get my card stamped, and leave quickly. Unfortunately, there was a good crowd in there and a long line at the counter.

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey
I was able to by-pass the line for a quick stamping of the card, then I was on my way.

Visible from here was the US-62 bridge over the Kentucky River.  It’s quite a distance over the water due to the terrain on the other side.   Also visible is a railroad bridge that’s even taller and substantially older.  I don’t know if it’s still used, as it looks pretty worn out.  I’ve been told it’s called high-bridge.  I did not get a picture.

I continued on Tyrone Rd and turned right on US-62.  From where I turned to the bridge was downhill.  I managed to hit a good speed and took the lane.  There was one car behind me, but he didn’t seem impatient.  After the bridge is a sharp right then the road slopes upward.  I was heading southeast again and had some wind in my face, so my speed suffered.

Visibility on this stretch of road was bad.  Even though I was now hanging to the right it wasn’t safe for cars to pass, and they weren’t passing.  Once a good line of them had built up, I pulled off the road too let them pass.  I took the few moments to eat and drink some more also.

The route eventually turned off of US-62 to Milner Rd, then to Steel Rd, which I followed for quite a few miles.

Steel Rd started out in typical “rough-rural” form.  A few farms, some ramshackle homes.  Eventually it looked more like what rural Kentucky is known for, horse farms and well-manicured estates.  I think I prefer the ramshackle look.

Also I was now heading north.  I had a tailwind!  My mood had improved dramatically.  I hadn’t been lost in many miles and I knew I’d easily make the cutoff time.

The cue sheet had an upcoming left turn for New Cut/McCracken.  There was a right turn for KY-1659/McCracken Pike shortly after that.  I came to a stop sign and the cross road was McCracken Pike.  It was still to early to the first turn.  I zoomed out on the GPS and saw that New Cut would loop around and meet up with McCracken Pike.  Timothy had added this little bit to get the mileage right.  So, I continued straight and later turned left on New Cut.  New Cut was typical horse farm country.

Horse farms on New Cut Rd
Horse farms on New Cut Rd
I met back up with McCracken Pike and it was a short ride to the Woodford Reserve distillery.

Woodford Reserve
Woodford Reserve
I’m not a bourbon connoisseur.  They all taste the same to me.  I’ve never had Woodford, and I didn’t have any yesterday.  I’ve heard that it’s overpriced.

I will say this.  Their setup for giftshop and tours is better than the others.  It’s larger, well-staffed, and I was greeted and had freebies pushed at me as soon as I walked in the door.  I really just wanted my card stamped.

They stamped my card and ate a free bourbon ball and was given a shot glass.  I may have to buy a bottle of Woodford just for the service I got as a non-customer.

I continued north on McCracken Pike.  It runs parallel to Glenns Creek for a while.  I went through the tiny town of Millville, which has no other streets.  It’s just McCracken Pike with the creek on one side, and a clump of houses on the other.

I eventually pass the now-defunct “The Old Taylor Distillery Company”.  It looked vaguely familiar.

The Old Taylor Distillery Company
The Old Taylor Distillery Company
It took me a bit to remember where I saw it, but I believe this road was on the route of the 2009 Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Possibly related building across the street
Possibly related building across the street
McCracken Pike eventually is know as Glenns Creek Rd then Martin Luther King Dr.  I ignored the name changes and enjoyed the view.  Where Glenns Creek joins the Kentucky River the road follows the river instead.  It then goes underneath the two impossibly-tall I-64 bridges that seem to cross the whole valley.

As the route enters the Franfort area again, I turn left on Coffee Tree Rd. I saw no coffee.  I could have used a cup.  I did see the State Police Training Academy.

Kentucky State Police Training Academy
Kentucky State Police Training Academy
I was on a bit of a hill and had a nice view of the Capitol Building.  A zoom lens made this shot possible.

State Capitol
State Capitol
I didn’t take any more time with pictures.  Coffee Tree Rd pretty much does a 180 where it crosses KY-676 and becomes Glenns Creek Rd, but with no connection to the previous Glenns Creek Rd.

One more climb then a left turn at US-60/Main St with a nice downhill run into town.

From there it was a stroll down Wilkinson Blvd and back to Buffalo Trace.  Buffalo Trace was now closed, but Timothy was waiting at the end to mark my card.  I finished the ride in 5:55, my best 100K ride yet.

What is the indecision?  I’m not sure if I want to do more populaires, or worse yet a brevet.  My riding style is more relaxed, slower, and with stops for food and pictures.  On the other hand an occasional populaire/brevet is good for making me faster without resorting to dedicated training.

I also like group rides to, you know, ride as a group.  I spent nearly all of the ride alone.  I don’t mind solo rides, but those start solo, and won’t have anyone waiting for me at the end.

I don’t know.  I’m still undecided about the future of doing these rides.

The early part of the ride I really wanted to give up the populaire and head for Louisville.  I would have sent Timothy a text message to let him know I wasn’t going to need a ride home.  I then could have ridden any pace I wanted, guilt-free.

Later in the ride I was completely enjoying myself.  I didn’t take as many pictures as I normally do during a ride, but that means few to post here (which is a bit of a pain).

So, I remain undecided, yet overall pleased with the ride yesterday.

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6 thoughts on “Populaire d’Indecision”

  1. Excellent! I’m impressed with the climbing and the mileage with the crazy wind. You’ve now ridden in a part of the country a couple times where I’ve yet to visit. I’ve especially wanted to ride those roads east of the river, and Wildcat Rd. too. As to the brevet style of riding, like all things, moderation is best. I wouldn’t want to time trial brevet for hundreds of miles as my only riding, but I wouldn’t want to only commute or only race. I think the stimulation of the challenge can be a good thing, and you’ve now done three!

  2. I did nearly that exact same ride last week! We were fully loaded on our way back from a camping trip in Frankfort. We took the distillery tour back to Lexington to offer a little scenic appeal. You captured it well. Great job on a tough ride!

  3. Maybe it is a matter of perspective. Initially, you go because someone has mapped a route, and you get some good saddle time. Eventually, your fitness improves, and it becomes more of a group ride.

    Don’t listen to me. I’ve never done a populaire.

  4. Tim: yep, it was quite a route. Timothy did a good job choosing it.

    Derrick: Wow, loaded, that route would be tough. I saw the “abandoned trailer” you posted. I’m not sure it was abandoned completely…

    Pondero: True, having someone map a route and drag my butt out there was a huge part of it. I do need to work on the fitness (a lot) to get to where I can keep up with these guys. I’ll still listen to you. 🙂

  5. The area to the East of the river is some of the most beautiful in Ky, with well-tended and impressively huge farms. On the West Side, is pretty and quaint and often run down. Both have their own charm. Dogs tend to be better behaved on those wealthy farms.

    I don’t refer to Brevet riding as “group rides” they are expressly individual events. If you happen to find someone who is riding your pace, that’s nice too. One of the main things about doing the populaires for me is forcing myself to create the route, and having to try to finish in time on the route I created. It makes a day I have to ride a fairly good amount at a fairly good pace, whether I feel much like doing it or not. Learning that I can g out and complete these rides and do so in decent times really helps with my confidence that I can go out and complete any ride I desire to.

    I had to work pretty hard to keep from getting dropped on the climbs by the two I was riding with most of the day…and when we were getting pushed by tailwinds I was running out of gears! Sometime I need to put back on my 50T chainring and get back some of the top-end I lose with the 46T

  6. Timothy,
    Thinking about the ride as an individual event is the perfect way to think about it. I’m surprised it took me until now to see that.

    Like I said before, I was really thinking I made a mistake early on, but things got better. After I finished the ride, I can’t see it as anything but good.

    I will need to remember that a brevet/populaire/randonnee/audax is not a group ride, but a bunch of individual riders who may, or may not ride together during portions of the ride. Then I can keep my expectations in line with reality.

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