For a number of years, my Memorial Day weekend plans have included a trip to Georgetown, Kentucky to ride the Horsey Hundred. The HH is officially 2 days of riding but I like to drive down on Thursday evening and squeeze in an extra day by taking a warm-up ride on Friday.
I got to Georgetown on Thursday, checked in to my hotel, grabbed some dinner at the nearby Fazolis and prepared for a casual Friday ride with a small group of friends from Columbus who have the same idea about getting in as much Kentucky riding time as we can. Friday morning I met Don & Phyllis Hamilton, Dave Van Dyke and Barb Parker at the Cracker Barrel for breakfast and discussed our route plans for the day. I’m a map guy and I’m always willing to lead a ride but Barb is the agreed upon owner of the Friday Horsey Hundred route selection. This year she picked a 50+ mile loop east of Paris. On the short drive over there it became obvious that the weather was not going to be cooperative. We parked the cars as the rain, thunder and lightening made the ride seem less than ideal. If nothing else, it meant spending a lot of time cleaning and re-lubing our bikes before the century ride on Saturday. New plans were discussed and we headed back to Georgetown for to see if the roads were any drier to the west. As has happened a couple of times, we picked a route from years past, only to find that the ride organizers had changed Saturday’s route and we would be riding some of the same roads. But, we had a very nice ride through the rolling horse country. No one was in a hurry so the pace was conversational. We stopped for a real lunch in Midway. With no specific plans we pulled off the road to discuss our options and ended up in frnt of Duggans Restaurant. A lovely waitress came out and encouraged us to eat there, brought us menus to consider and brought out pitchers of ice water to fill our bottles. After lunch, we rolled back into Georgetown with 50 miles and timed it perfectly to be able to pick up our registration packets just as they opened.
Dinner on Friday was a real treat. Karen, a good friend from Columbus who took big-wig job with Home Depot last year and moved to Georgia, made the trip up to do her first Horsey Hundred. We were able to catch up over dinner while we waited for the rest of the Ohio group to roll into town.
Saturday dawned dry and sunny with the promise of being hot and humid. 9 of us rolled out surrounded by riders on the 50, 76 and 102 mile routes. The pace was quick from the start as Joe took his spot at the front. We manged to remind him that we had a long, hot day in front of us but that only knocked the pace back from “painful” to “fast”. The roads on this ride are really stellar riding roads: well maintained, rolling to hilly, narrow country roads lined with old stone fences and huge horse farms. We stopped at the first food stop only long enough to refuel and then rolled on, now down to 7 riders as Karen and Cathy decided to enjoy the scenery a bit more. The route was still a bit crowded with riders from 3 differnt route options and soon we started seeing riders from a 4th route who were going in the opposite direction.
The routes split up after the food stop in Midway. We rolled through that stop but Dave decided that keeping marital harmony was an important consideration and he dropped back with his wife. The remaining 6 of us headed out toward the hilly part of the ride, in and out of the river valley. I love that section of the route. Fast, curvy but wide open downhills and steady climbs with a few steeper ones thrown in for fun.
For some reason, it always seems like the switch between spring and summer happens in the middle of this ride every year. After climbing out of the big hills, the route headed back into the rolling open fields and the heat and humidity began to take the starch out of everyone. We made one final water and food stop at the Keeneland race track before making the final push back to Georgetown. The ride finishes with a big Bar-B-Que buffet and no one went away hungry.
Sunday’s ride heads east from Georgetown and has distance options up to 70 miles. The same group left Georgetown a little after 8:00 with the addition of Joe’s wife Thelma. She and Joe were on their tandem, which always spells trouble for the rest of us. Fortunately the route is just hilly enough to keep them from permanently disappearing up the road. The Sunday route is one roller coaster road after another past more beautiful farms. We skipped the first food stop where the 50 and 70 mile routes split and then had the roads to ourselves for most of the next 35 miles. Everyone was feeling pretty good so the pace over the big rollers was brisk and more than a little competitive until the food stop at about the half way point. After that, we broke up into some smaller groups for a while before regrouping about 20 miles from the end. By now the heat was bad again so we made a brief stop at the last food stop and then made quick work of the remaining miles back to Georgetown. The ride wasn’t quite as fast as Saturday’s but we still felt like we’d put in a hard ride.
One of these years I’m going to remember to take a camera with me and take the time to grab some photos. The Horsey Hundred is a beautiful and challenging ride with some of the best cycling roads I’ve ever ridden. It is incredibly well organized and is a “can’t miss” ride for me every year.