Cycling the Horsey Hundred, in Georgetown, Kentucky!
I am the type of person who feels pulled to the next adventure purely by instinct. Not a lot of thought goes into it, and on more than one occasion, I have known very little about the place I was going next. I just knew I was supposed to go there. It may sound flighty to some, but for the ones who get it, well, you know what I’m talking about.
Kentucky was never on my radar. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would see a magnet from Kentucky on my fridge. When my friend Louisa sent me a random text asking if I’d join her on a cycling trip, something inside me instantly said yes. Granted, I am pretty willing to go anywhere, but still. Kentucky.
“Southern hospitality. It is alive and well in Kentucky.”
The reason for this trip was the Horsey Hundred cycling event held in Georgetown, Kentucky. It has been around since 1978 and is held by the Bluegrass Cycling Club. I am not ashamed to admit that I always thought bluegrass was just a type of music. I had no idea that it is an actual geographical region. I’m taking one for the team, here. You’re welcome.
Over 3,000 riders participate in this 3-day event. There are 5 different routes, ranging from 40 to 160kms (Sat) and 40 to 120kms (Sun). No matter which route you choose, there is no shortage of spectacular scenery with horses, horses and more horses, lush green fields, stone fences, majestic farms, creeks, and quaint small towns. You may also find the odd distillery or two, Kentucky being the birthplace of bourbon.
“Horse therapy. We could all use some.”
While the main rides are on Saturday and Sunday, you can ride on Friday with the Bluegrass Cycling club if you so choose. As Louisa is part of the Oshawa Cycling Club, who had several of its members at the Horsey Hundred, we rode with them on the Legacy Trail to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington which is well worth the visit. There is much to see and learn at this 1,224 acre park. The entrance fee is $20USD. You can visit the various barns, the ever impressive museum (and I am not one for museums), and watch numerous competitions and events. This is a fascinating place. Louisa and I enjoyed our time petting the incredibly massive yet docile draft horses. They are so soft and despite some of them being over 2,000 lbs, they have a calming, gentle presence. Horse therapy. We could all use some.
After tearing ourselves away from the horse park, we rode the Legacy Trail to the Blue Grass Distillers, a rustic and hip place located along the side of the trail. They are moving their location so as you read this, they may no longer be there but you should seek them out in their very cool new event space. We tasted a flight of five different types of bourbon which were really good, once you got past the initial esophageal shock. The staff is very friendly and will get you set up with a $5USD tasting. Tours are also available. If you make it there, pet sweet Tipsy the cat for me. Right around the corner from the Blue Grass Distillers is West Sixth Brewing. Definitely worth a stop after your ride and the food is also very good. It comes from Smithtown Seafood, which is located right next door to West Sixth. The patio is fun in this sweet little pocket of Lexington.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would see a magnet from Kentucky on my fridge.”
Our Horsey Hundred rides on both Saturday and Sunday were stunningly beautiful. The routes are well marked, and although you can follow along with the Ride with GPS app, you can also just turn off your technology and follow the arrows. It is not a race, so if you go, take photos and enjoy the ride. There are rest stops along the way where Gatorade, water, fruit, assorted snacks, and protein bars are provided. And pickles. Yes, pickles. Who knew they are good for leg cramps? I do love me a good pickle, but my inclination is more towards all things chocolate. The gods were in my favour as at the end of the ride each day, there was a bounty of delicious cold chocolate milk for all riders. It has been a long time since I indulged in this beverage. It was well worth the wait.
A block party was organized in Georgetown on the Saturday night which was very, very fun. Georgetown has a population of approximately 37,000 and is very charming with beautiful old buildings and trendy shops. We were entertained by Honeychild and drank beer from Country Boy Brewing, (which is a cool craft brewery to visit on the outskirts of Georgetown). I believe it was Cougar Bait, an American Blond Ale that was on tap that night. Obviously the stars were aligning for two middle-aged women with twenty-something hearts.
For those who need to take it to the next level (re-read previous sentence), there is a very fun Irish bar in Georgetown called Slainte. This place is loaded with character, both in terms of the building itself, its patio and its patrons. We had a most excellent night there, meeting lots of friendly locals and one of us even made it ‘on stage’ with the band to bang on the old tambourine. It was a fun night in Georgetown and we felt truly lucky for this added bonus to our weekend away. I will mention a few items. 1) Things shut down at midnight, which may be early or late according to where you live. 2) There is seemingly only one cab company and only one driver in Georgetown. If he is not available and possibly picking someone up in Louisville, which is over an hour away, you will have to resort to other tactics should your Uber app not be working. In our case, we were very lucky to have befriended some very kind and very fun people who saw to it that two city girls from Toronto made it back safely to their hotel. Southern hospitality. It is alive and well in Kentucky.
“Sometimes it is those places that were never on your radar that can be the best for your soul.”
The Horsey Hundred is a popular cycling event, especially with Americans, but there were definitely some Canadians representing the good old maple leaf. The drive, should you only stop for gas, takes about 11 hours from Toronto to Georgetown. This includes going through Cincinnati during rush hour. I would recommend cuing up the WKRP theme song during this segment, and attempting to name every character from the show in under 30 seconds, which I of course did with flying colours. There are a lot of dead deer on the Interstate, so I would avoid night driving if possible.
Kentucky served us very well. Sometimes it is those places that were never on your radar that can be the best for your soul. If you are a cyclist, the Horsey Hundred is a must do and if you can stay a few extra days, there is much to see in beautiful Kentucky. Just tell them Louisa and Melissa sent you.