Qualifier for these routes!

The following routes were developed over years of biking in Indiana and now Kentucky. At the time they were the most direct routes using paved county roads and minimal secondary highways to connect the county roads. When possible the most scenic road was used. Over time most counties added more paved roads however in a few instances when county budgets were stretched, roads reverted back to gravel. Using my routes you'll almost always find that the distances between two points is more than taking highways however the scenery is most often better as well as the traffic. Hopefully you'll enjoy the great cycling in Indiana or Kentucky and if possible provide feedback on your trip.
I am not making any recommendations nor can I say that these routes are free from road hazards or dangers from traffic. Users of these routes will find them scenic and remote however only the user can assure they are safe on any public road.

Check out my routes. Mouse over a route and click for link to route map, GPX track or cue sheet

View Charlie's Routes in a larger map

Friday, October 9, 2015

TWO more scenic remote rides South of Cincinnati

Just under an hour South of Cincinnati I began a 58 mile ride from Williamstown. This is the area where The Arc Encounter is to be built. Back to the ride, it follows mostly remote paved roads Northeast to Falmouth at the halfway point where lunch and snacks are available. Leaving Falmouth the route has a couple of miles on Us27 but fortunately there are two lanes most of the way to the turnoff to a secondary road and minimal traffic. The terraine is challenging with 3,600' of elevation gain. A great ride for a fall escape. Williamstown / Falmouth Loop! Head a few miles further South to the Corinth exit and ride Ralph Mitchell's (Ralphie-boy) Corinth-Sdieville Loop!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

RRRiK 2015 - Five days of biking in South Central Kentucky

With our move to Kentucky in 2010 the preplanning branched out to others for help. Duane took charge of the SAG trailer which has been around since the 1988 RAGBRAI and Rob readied the SAG van which had come from his sister Sherrie as she moved to WA. The group has spread ever further over the years making me wonder where the next ten years takes us! Rather than overnighting at five different places I decided to use a suggestion from Phyllis to ride loops from a couple of smaller cities in South central Kentucky. In the fall of 2014 Phyllis and I headed to the Berea area with some preplanned routes and several bits of info on dining and sites to see. The results of the preplanning plus a revisit to the area in the spring of 2015 produced five nice routes In the Berea area
The group of 13 from Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Washington state gathered in Berea at a local hotel the day before the ride, some we had not seen since last years ride! It was great to just set and talk for the evening before the ride.

Day 1 Berea SE < Route Map

We rode out of town from the hotel with rolling hills beginning quickly. As we ventured more to the SE the hills became more aggressive and the roads were quite remote. Very little traffic however heading up one hill we encountered a pickup pulling a trailer.
While the bikes faired well there wasn't enough space for the SAG vehicle to pass. A short delay took place while the SAG was backed down the hill to a driveway.  We later stopped in Sand Gap for lunch at JT's but just before that was an ice cream drive-in where a couple of us picked chocolate malts, nice cool-down appetizer.
After lunch we ventured back toward Berea but the dark clouds were gathering. We started looking for shelter and found an old abandoned road-side store with a porch and decided to stop. No more than five minutes later heavy rain set in. We waited for a while with little let up so part of the group, all that would fit in the SAG, headed back to Berea. The remaining riders waited for a break in the rain or the SAG to return. The break finally came and we enjoyed a faboulos ride back to Berea with the SAG showing up behind us.

Day 2 Mt Vernon SW  < Route Map

We transported South to Mt Vernon parking at a local high school. The route took us through Broadhead then onto some "goat path" width roads and then
Briary Creek where we either waded across or got the nerve to ride through the water. From there it was lunch at Ruckle's Restaurant where the birthday boy was served some chocolate pie compliments of the restaurant. After lunch we ventured back across Briary Creek then East back to the high school.

Day 3 Berea SW < Route Map

Again we started at the hotel in Berea and followed along Copper Creek Rd and Turkey Town Rd to Crab Orchard where we lunched at the Past-Time Cafe. Many of the locals were dining with the special having a German slant. From there we headed North to 3246 and Yoder's General Store. A few on the ride wondered if it had a connection to the Yoder's store on the Amishland Ride in Northern Indiana. 3246 continued on to Narrow Gap Rd, another goat path, which was great. The pace slowed and everyone enjoyed the remote scenery. The remaining road back into Berea was a variation of crooked and rolling to short sections of straight road like Northern Indiana.
After the ride we transported to Richmond 12 miles North of Berea.

Day 4 Lancaster SW  < Route Map

We drove 15 miles to Lancaster parking in the center of town to start the ride. The route quickly exited town on a low traffic road which turned even more remote at 5.5 miles onto Fall Lick Rd. We then made an easy 500' climb around 3.5 miles long to an overlook. From there it was 13 miles to Sanford for lunch. Mostly downhill with a couple of short but steep climbs kept the pulse rate up. The group split up for lunch with half going to the Bluebird Bistro and the rest to Coleman's Deli. Both had great food and fun. I went to the deli which was a working pharmacy (still) and a lunch counter. Three senior ladies were waiting tables and they all flocked to greet us ready to take orders. I asked for a chocolate malt which came in minutes. I then ordered a chicken salad sandwich which also came quickly. The others who had been exploring the place wondered how I received my food so quickly. They soon found out and three others ordered chocolate malts which were HUGE and shared with the others. After lunch we grulled up a gradual slope to Junction City then picked up a tailwind heading back to Lancaster. We passed Hubbel Church which had been purchased by a local farmer who then restored it and the parsonage for the comunity. Continuing on Old Danville Rd we encountered a road construction ahead sign at around 54 miles but assumed as usual "we are bikers and we can walk past the problem" plowing ahead for two miles we encountered the problem.
We would be held up for a bit waiting for a hydraulic hose to be replaced on a truck We talked a bit and a few decided to turn back to the next road and bypass the construction. Since most all of the group were out of staters they didn't realize that Kentucky doesn't have many rural roads crossing rivers and streams plus unlike upper midwest there are not any straight roads. The detour would have added around 15 miles on some highways to the days mileage. In addition the delay was going to be a while and the clouds were looming to the west. Talking with a local farmer who also was blocked from getting home we learned about a farmer's lane going up over the hill then down into another farmers pasture (with cows) where we could bypass the construction. it worked and a short discussion with the other farmer allowed us to continue the remaining three miles into Lancaster
Where is my mountain bike?

Back at the hotel we ordered pizza plus some "sweetened and un-sweetened" iced tea!!!

Day 5 Richmond SW  < Route Map

This day was a wash for riding due to heavy rains all day. We all opted to do a Bourbon Tour and Tasting at the Woodford Reserve distillery South of Frankfort. It turned out to be a great tour and tasting to wrap up a great ride in South Central Kentucky!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My winter hobby!

I just finished up this bright, maybe gaudy to some, side table!

Check out my Bicycle Art blog!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

RRRiK 2014 - Five days of biking in SE Kentucky with bits if TN and VA.;

In early June my faithful group of 12 departed for SE Kentucky for my 20th annual ride on remote roads.
Here's the results!

Day 1 Hazard to Harlan
Twelve met on Hazard. two from KY, three from IN, six from MI and one from DC for the twentieth Ralf's Ride. As in the past we had a SAG van with snacks, cooler and spare parts. We were ready of riding remote roads in appalachia. The weather report for the whole week was sketchy but all were determined so we headed out for the back country. Since there were few groceries along the way and no restaurants we packed a few sandwich fixins along with snacks. Earlier contact with a local grocery confirmed only ham and bologna sandwiches! As expected we did hit a mile of gravel around the 20 mile mark. There were some minor sprinkles for an hour then clear weather. The climb up Pine Mountain was moderate with a sharp increase near the top. Once there we started the Little Shepard Trail which looks like rollers on the profile but actually is short aggressive ups/downs. After 10 miles of this we were ready for the four mile decent into Harlan. We showered up, had a brewski and snack then headed to dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant she the skies opened up with a vengeance, great timing! Good nights sleep at Comfort Inn.

Day 2 Harlan to Cumberland gap
Again another day without food along the way so the cooler was well stocked. Again some rain but reasonable. We biked beautiful remote roads to the Cumberland Gap NP and were required to push our bikes over the gap for one mile to Cumberland Gap Tennesee. There we checked in at the Cumberland Gap Inn. An older hotel with nice rooms and a good manager. We walked the small touristy but unique town visiting the Bicycle Museum, Visitors Center and coffee shop. Dinner at a local Italian restaurant.

Day 3 Cumberland Gap to Pennington Gap
Since breakfast was sketchy (Hardee's) our SAG driver arranged with the local coffee shop/tea room a really nice breakfast plate. Fluffy eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, toast and heaps of coffee to get us on the road, yummy! We climbed the hill heading out of town and crossed the highway heading to a "Road Closed" route. We had previously found this where a bicycle could pass thru a field of kudzu to Harrogate TN bypassing the major highway. What we found was the roadway had been repaired and vehicles could now pass thru making it easier for the SAG van to stay with us. We followed scenic roads including Frog Level Rd for 25 miles stopping in Rose Hill at Lou's Diner. Lou was there along with a waitress/cook and served up some good sandwiches for the group. After that we followed scenic 621 for 17 miles into Pennington Gap VA. Pennington Gap is a mostly a coal mining town which has been hit hard with the reduction in coal requirements. Lodging in Pennington Gap is scarce and the Convient Inn worked out. Dinner at Ruby's nearby was one of the better restaurants in town.

Day 4 Pennington Gap to Benham
Breakfast restaurants were limited to McDonalds or Hardee's however we made do. We were off for a 26 mile warmup ride on VA 606 to the 7 mile Black Mountain climb. It started out easy then settled in at a consistent 7-8% reminding us of the Blue Ridge climbs. We sat back and ground away for over an hour then regrouped at the top for a snack and cold drink. Then it was 19 miles of Kentucky downhill into Benham for an overnight at the Schoolhouse Inn. We found great acomditations there with a super staff to take care of our needs.

Hay 5 Benham to Hazard
Breakfast at the Benham Schoolhouse then on our way to kingdom Come SP a few miles down the road. At mile three the route took an abrupt left turn and UP for three miles leveling off on the Little Shepard Trail. Grades of 18-20% on the first mile then teasing us with easier grades then a switchback with increasing grades for a bit. Unfortunately our SAG vehicles mixed a turn and headed the wrong way on the trail but did catch back with us at the intersection to US119. The Little Shepardf Trail again worked the group but better pavement conditions did improve the ride over day one. We enjoyed a short break at US119 then enjoyed a nice three mile downhill to Little Cowan Rd. We followed creek valleys for a beautiful ride of 20 miles then busted a gut heading up Elk Creek Rd and stopping at the top for lunch. The ride finished off in Hazard with a short half miler up to the starting point.

All in all a great ride with again fantastic scenery and friendly locals. One of this year's new riders commented that the ride was great and a bit more challenging than he had expected. He does want to return however and had wished he had started with us 20 years ago!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A little off topic but still bicycle related! Spinergy Wheels

Some really unique bicycle components just keep hanging on!
While helping a friend relocate he took me to his stash of 'relegated to the basement" parts and handed me his prized wheels from the late 90s saying "do something with these"! He was aware of my bike art but I assumed he just wanted to rid the stores. Several months later I asked his wife if he might be interested in a table using the wheels. She was excited and said he would be thrilled with it. A couple of months later the crated table was loaded on a uHaul in Cincinnati destined for their home in Washington. The wife had not told him and he was completely surprised with the result!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A great route just South of Cincinnati Starting just off Interstate 75 At Exit 171

Riding Arnold;'s Creek Loop in Northern kentucky this AM I thought about all of the cyclists traveling on the Interstate 75 corridor through the Cincinnati area wondering how many roadies with bikes could use a 2-3 hour ride on remote county roads to break up their trip. 
If you haven't ridden in Kentucky here's your chance to see some really beautiful country.
The first ride starts at Denny's on the West side of exit 171. The second shorter ride starts just five miles down KY14 past Denny's to the Southwest in Verona. Most of the really scenic remote parts are included in both loops.

Arnold's Creek Loop Walton - 42 Miles   link to Ride With GPX track and map.

Depart from the Denny's at exit 171 on Interstate 75 just South of the 71/75 split. Heading out the backway from Denny's is great getting into the backcountry very quickly. Of course there is quite a bit of climbing however that brings tons of beautiful country. Highlites of the ride are several barns chocked full of tobacco drying in the fall breeze and rundown buildings along the way. Overall almost the whole 42+ mile route is on beautiful roads. The road surface is for the most part great with Arnold's Creek Rd having some patched pavement in places but no broken areas. Note the speed limit on Arnold's Creek road, a cyclists dream! Be sure to bring good gears, seasoned legs and a smile and you'll have a great ride.

Arnold's Creek Loop Verona - 30 Miles   link to Ride With GPX track and map.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

RRRiK 2013 - Five Day Ride in SE Kentucky and West Virginia

View the RRRiK 2013 Route in Google Maps!

In Mid June a group of 14 met in Grayson Kentucky for my 19th year of remote road rides in the mid west. Riders from MI, IN, KY and one from OR returned for a dose of back country riding on the most remote paved roads I can find. Pitfalls for this year were services along the way. Lodging was not an issue however getting lunch daily became a challenge.

*Day 1 Grayson KY to Louisa KY* We had intended to eat at Paw Paw's near Willard run by locals however, a followup call earlier in the week found that the locals tired of the effort and were only open on the weekends. Staff at the hotel in Grayson recommended Weavers Market / Bakery run by a mennonite group.
This turned out to be great allowing us to purchase deli sandwiches and wonderful homemade fig bars for a picnic along the route.
Speaking of the route most attending the ride have dumbed down after a few years of attending and aren't interested in map reading, que sheets or GPX tracks. They return for some of the best road riding around; with narrow paved roads, very minimal traffic, and scenery that can knock your socks off. So for me it's a piece of cake after wintertime research and a GPS. This year started off with a little operator error in that I had not turned off the auto-reroute on the GPS. We had taken a diversion from the planned route to the bakery and the GPS then rerouted us on the shortest route to Louisa. All were cruising along while I was scratching my head thinking "why are we on KY 1 so long". Stopping the group a few miles further I fessed up that the leader had messed up and we were now heading out on uncharted roads to get back on the route. All were fine with maybe a little concern from two new members. The rest of the first day went well with a stop for our deli sandwich at a beautiful family cemetery along the way. A couple of dogs joined us first then Harvey stopped over to see what was up. He lived behind the cemetery and took care of the family resting place. Harvey told us of his seven brothers only two remained. I asked him if he wanted a beer which got a quick "sure" and a trip to the cooler. He looked among the darker beers scratching his head then picked out a Sam Adams and smiled.

We traveled on in the back country and interesting road names arriving at the Louisa Best Western with 60 miles or so and ready for some cold brew. Dinner at a local Italian restaurant.
*Day 2 Louisa KY to Chief Logan SP WV* The group started out in Louisa KY along the Tug Fork River then across the river into West Virginia.
Most river crossings are on highways but the chance to get on Tug River Rd came quickly. A narrow paved road along the railroad and river then on to Salt Petre Rd
and finally Mill Creek Rd all of which were true backcountry. A quick stop in Dunlow due to threatening skys and a brief conversarion with local James.
Dunlow station and we're on the railroad bed!
He talked of his mother catching the train there when she was a child. James talked about the book "Last Train to Dunlow" a definitive history of Wayne County, West Virginia during the turbulent time following the Civil War and through the coming of the N & W Railroad. Includes history of the CCC Camps in Wayne County, history of the land speculators, train wrecks and collisions. After leaving James at the Dunlow Station, we stopped for sandwiches at Copley's Deli South of Missouri Branch then backtracked to 12 Pole Rd which is a paved abandoned railroad bed, now a road.
12 Pole Rd

There are places where new road has been added over the years but we stayed on the railbed road as much as possible. At one point we ventured on along the railbed as it became smaller and smaller finally ending at a mobile home! It was a U turn time to head back to the roadway but before making it back the rains came and we found a shelter at a local church. Moving on after the rain, our plan was to stop at the Cabwaylingo State Park for lunch at one of their shelters. We arrived and within a few minutes a horendous storm blew through depositing a dead tree in front and back of our SAG, close one! The storm passed but the skys looked threatening so six riders sagged on to the hotel while the rest followed along toward the end. The weather held and all arrived at Chief Logan SP in the mid afternoon. The state park lodge is located at the top of a good climb with great views of the surrounding mountain tops.
*Day 3 Chief Logan SP WV to Matewan WV* The day started out with a great downhill from the lodge only to head back up, cross the highway and back down into the back country. The route was again beautiful and remote following along the creek however, too soon, the valley began to narrow and we were headed up. The hill on Smokehouse Fork-Harts Creek Rd turned to be a killer and quite possibly the worst hill most of us have ridden. Making it up requires good low gears, strong legs and determination. A stop at the top to refresh then right back down only to climb again going to Dingess. The Dingess Tunnel was to be a high point of the day and did turn out to be a scary experience. The unlite tunnel is 3,327 feet long, paved, one way and supposedly haunted.

Well Ms Ralf, is it haunted or not?
Being on bicycles we had prepared for the tunnel by placing the SAG in front of the group to keep oncoming traffic from coming at us. We also had headlights and flashing tail lights on each bike. Even with these precautions we found the trip through the tunnel to be dangerous with water and some gravel in places. Should we return to the area on a bicycle we'll SAG through the tunnel or flag down a local pickup truck and beg for a ride through the tunnel. As friendly as most locals were in WV, the request would probably be honored. After passing through the tunnel we verred off and on  Old NW Railroad Bed Rd and 12 Pole Creek Rd passing Laurel Lake. It's worth the time to use 12 Pole Creek as much as possible. While there is minimal traffic on the main road and it is downhill most of the way to Lenore and lunch.
Cheech's Pizza is run by Bev and Robert Adkins and their menu fit the bill well. Robert was on his way to work, driving a coal truck, when I talked to him in the parking lot. Bev was in the kitchen doing a great job of preparing our lunch. She had thought we were coming the next day however they did a great job of fueling our engines. After the rush Bev joined us in the dining room with many stories of the area and people. She was a hoot! Leaving Lenore the only way was on WV highways and four miles of US52. We maintained single line with space between the riders for safety but we found that traffic was fairly low on both highways. At Delbarton we turned onto WV65 to cross over the mountain heading to . There's a new road plus a closed road that is not maintained! As we rode toward Matewan we turned onto Chaffin St and used the paved trail under the highway and railroad entering the town through an open gate in the floodwall.

Entering Matewan through the floodwall!

We stopped there for pics and talked to a local. He mentioned that a flood four years back went high enough that gates for the railroad required closing to keep the town from Flooding. Inside the protected town we arrived at the Historic Matewan House B&B run buy Sharon Garland.
Sharon had many goodies including two cakes, drinks and other snacks. We were in heaven with her hospitality and facility. Five nice rooms in the main house and a bunkhouse in the back. Her breakfast was clearly the best on the trip! To prepare, serve and cleanup the breakfast, she had three others helping out. In town we found several interesting character, a bear of a dog

and a bluegrass singer in the pizza place across the street. I walked into the place and found her on a small stage playing a guitar and singing to an empty room. After a few minutes I headed back to the B&B to get an audience. Several joined in and enjoyed an hour of great music and bonding with a local artist. What fun!
*Day 4 Matewan WV to Jenny Wiley SP KY* We passed through Matewan then across the Tug Fork River into Kentucky. Now we were in the land of the Hatfield and McCoy feud. Several historical plaques and a nice museum in Matewan's old train depot are worth a visit. We biked SW out of town on secondary roads with great views of the valley and many interesting sights! On road 1056 we left the Tug Fork River valley on a seemingly endless climb to a spectacular view of the countryside.

We parraled US119 on Big Creek Rd to Sidney where fixins were available for a picnic lunch. Along the way we encountered a stray kitten and a few obsticals in the road.
Leaving Sidney we headed North for around five miles again on Big Creek Rd. This was Saturday when the coal trucks did not run from the two local mines which we passed on our way to Rockhouse Fork Rd. At this point began a 25 mile route meandering through some fabulous country. Only periodic residences with imaculate gardens, well kept simple homes, and seemingly endless rolling traffic free road. None of the group pushed the pace as we bathed in the scenery heading to Jenny Wiley State Park. Arriving at the park the more energized boys hauled the cooler full of refreshments down steps to a patio overlooking scenic Dewey Lake. A comfortable stay at the lodge refreshed the group for the last day into Grayson.
*Day 5 Jenny Wiley SP to Grayson KY* Leaving the lodge we rode along Dewey Lake for eight miles then crossing the dam on our way to Paintsville for a stop at the IGA for lunch fixins! Well the IGA wasn't open so we sent the SAG vehicle on past the town to find food. The peleton charged on with great scenery, couple of stiff climbs and interesting Kentucky roads with no traffic. The SAG van caught up with us near an abandoned strip mine where we refreshed with cool drinks. On to Boone where the, closed on Sunday, grocery made another convenient place to regroup. We then pedaled on looking for a nice lunch stop and around the corner was the Cherokee Baptist Church which had just wrapped Sunday morning service. The pastor talked with several of the group and offered coffee and restroom facilities to the group.

A sermon on the way to Grayson?

After lunch, and around the 45 mile mark, the route slowly straightened and flattened, and suddenly a paceline was formed with the speed nearly doubling the last four days rate. It was going home time and they wanted to get there. It was a good feeling to know that everyone experienced a great ride through apallacia.

Ralf's Rides:
Starting in 1994 a group of friends from Lafayette Indiana had been attending seven days rides in the midwest and were weary of doing the camping scene. I proposed that we do a five day ride in Southern Indiana staying at state parks and hotels while being followed by a SAG to carry the essentials. The ride became Charlie's Southern Indiana Ride or "CSIR". This ran through 2000 when there were 22 attendees. The next few years I planned several different rides in Kentucky and Southern Indiana along with Copper Canyon, Maah Daah Hey trail in North Dakota, Blue Ridge Parkway and Natchez Trace. All were great experiences and wetted my desire to do more. In 2010 Phyllis and I relocated to Union Kentucky near Cincinnati where I found a lot more remote roads to ride. In 2011 we had the first Ralf's Rural Ride in Kentucky or "RRRiKy" and followed it up with RRRiKy 2012 and RRRiKy 2013!

This trip was the 19th annual ride that I have had with friends and I'm already looking at 2014! More than likely it will be in the SE Kentucky area with some of the days being surrounding states like Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. This winters scouting will turn up something.

For those of you who have read the entire blog, I hope you have a desire to try some of the riding in Kentucky. It's totally different than other areas that may be high on cyclists lists to visit. I think I like it because it is ever changing. Beautiful scenery, struggling old towns, mules in the barn, a junk pickup beside a trailer, tobacco fields, tough hills, paved one lane roads and wonderful people who are bike friendly.
It's fun!
Ralf's ultimate road conditions!