Tuesday, May 14

Bow to the Creator (Of Erroneous Strava Segments): Or, How I became KOM All Over Eastern Kentucky

I'm on a Strava segment-creation mission. It's apparent to me now that more people ride bikes in Powell County and the RRG area than I'd previously thought. Strava tells the story. So my goal is to get the segments created in sensible ways.

And crush them.

Gioff and I had a fantastic ride on Saturday. We visited four counties, getting as far east as Morgan County, and we covered 80 miles through some truly amazing rural areas.

I met Jhogh at the mouth of Cat Creek at 6am and we headed east. It had been an interesting journey to that point for me. The night before the ride we got home late. Since "home" still meant (we moved over the weekend) my sister's extra bedroom it's often difficult to keep up with/find my cycling gear.

I spent considerable time the night before trying to find my gloves and light mount and get everything together. I never found the light mount. That was problematic since we were meeting at 6am in Rosslyn. I would need to leave Clay City a full hour and a half before sunrise. I remembered that Mandy had used to light for Nada Tunnel on the Gorge Loop, so I thought maybe the mount was still on her handlebars on her bike at her parents'. It was after 10pm and they are notoriously early resters, so I decided to wait until the morning to go over to avoid being mistaken for a thief or pet abductor.

The light issue thwarted my plan to ride from Clay City. I considered riding to my in-laws house in the pre-dawn darkness holding the light with one hand, but the sound of a deluge in the darkness underlying that of my alarm at 4:40am convinced me I needed to drive there and ride with a properly mounted light. Finally I was on the road headed east for my rendezvous with Geph. The rain stopped before I headed out, but the roads were all wet.

I only waited for J'ff about five minutes and we headed straight out along highway 15 toward Nada as we hashed out a plan. After crossing into the Gorge we cautiously descended the wet road to Grays Branch. It was quiet in the Red River Gorge as we started up Tarr Ridge Road from the river bottoms to Tarr Ridge proper. The ascent was easier than I expected. I'd driven it many times, but had never biked up it.

We continued into Menifee County through rolling ridgetop farmland out to 460 south of Frenchburg. At 460 we were caught in a short rain shower, but it didn't amount to much. Both of us agreed the weather wasn't detracting from the ride. From 460 we headed south, through the stunning scenery beyond Pomeroyton, Maytown, and almost to Toliver. Just before Toliver we headed west once again along the Red River where is still passes through farmland Un-Gorged. After reaching 746 we made a short, fast descent to the river bridge at the upstream end of the Upper Red River Gorge. We stopped there for a few minutes before cranking out the rollers over Calaboose and back into semi-civilized territory east of Campton.

Upper Red River from the 746 bridge

Zheff set a good pace into town and as we cruised through downtown he commented that he'd never been to Campton before. Of course he blinked...and I refused to turn around and go back so he could see it. It was probably good we moved on because Cheph wanted to peruse a "yard sale" in the parking lot of the Marathon food mart at Pine Ridge. He bought a hand planer and a stationary bike, and I picked up two cane bottom chairs. They were a bit awkward lashed to our sporty sport bikes, but how can you pass up a good deal?

The yard sale haul would have slowed our descent from Zachariah to Slade except I made that part up. We were way ahead of schedule so we texted the...ladies (see Demetri Martin)...to let them know we'd just ride on through Slade instead of meeting them at Miguel's Pizza like we'd planned. There we'd eat pizza and trade off the kids so Mandy and Casey could go ride.

I pulled and Zhepf pushed, calling out “car back!” way more consistently than I do. It’s obvious he’s been the more social rider and me the more anti-social. We literally flew, with angels wings, all the way to Slade. Flew. Sha-ZAAM!

After Slade I could feel the miles dragging at my body, but my legs kept cranking. Djeff made the comment that once we parted ways we’d both slow way down. I agreed, but I wasn’t so sure I was going to slow. My ride all the way back to Stanton down the broad river valley was flat. Of course Jeugh still had to climb up and over the highest rock in the county. Poor Jeff.

Then we did part ways, after a fantastic ride around the Outer Loop of the Red River Gorge, and I knuckled down a gear, settled into my drops, and cranked along at 17-22 mph until I coasted up the 27% grade of my in-laws drive-way. I looked at my phone: 80.0 miles.

From Bowen on the skies threatened…lo, they followed through on what had seemed hollow threats all morning long. A nasty drizzle settled in as I plodded toward warmth and dry clothes, soaking me thoroughly before I reached the Promised Land. Once I uploaded my Strava track I found that two days prior (at least) three guys from Michigan also traced many of the roads we’d just pedaled. One of those guys also did Leadville last year. This is a story I’d never have known save for Strava. Then I set to creating some meaningful segments.


Later on Saturday I was driving to the house with a load of stuff from the storage building and saw a man and a preteen boy riding what looked like nice road bikes over Steamshovel Hill. I gawked. I didn’t know who they were, but they looked to be local, not jersey-clad out-of-towners. Things are looking up in the Red River Valley. Oh yes, the bikes be a-comin’.

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