Saturday, August 24

Centering Your Adventures in Life

Haha!  I’m a ding-a-ling.  I should have known better than to assume that if I were to turn in the drive with the big “Life Adventure Center” sign off Milner Road in Woodford County that I would not, in fact, be headed for the trailhead for the mountain bike trails at the Life Adventure Center (LAC) off Milner Road in Woodford County.

There were no mountain bikers’ cars in the visitor’s lot and I didn’t see anything resembling a trail within view of the parking lot.  Time was a-wastin’ as I had only an hour for my lunch.  I changed into my MTBer garb behind supra-dark tint and then rolled down my windows to get some air.  With fresh oxygen I decided it might be prudent to do a quick internet search on the ole Hitchhiker’s Guide.

I found a crude map:

 


As you can see, a great deal of cartographic skill went into producing the map.  I found myself in a frenzied critique of the map in question.  I discovered it lacked a few critical map elements:

1) A scale.  There is no scale, nor is the map annotated with even a hint of a “NTS.”  This wasn’t really a problem for me, but the cartographer in me wanted to complain.

2) Absolutely nothing regarding mountain biking.  Well, that’s not exactly true, now is it? In the lower left there is some red lettering, almost decipherable, that reads: “Mt. Bike Trail Interdiction.”  Or maybe that’s “intersection.”  Anyway, there is the general location, but there is no specific direction on how to get to the Mt. Bike Trail without wandering all over the property first.

3) Accuracy.  The map lacks accuracy.  Simply put.

Being the geographical genius that I am I deduced that I needed to drive back out to the main road and turn in the next road on the north side of Milner to get to the area on the map labeled:

Pavilion

Challenge Course

Horse Trails blah blah blah

I reached said pavilion and was rewarded with a printed copy of the map shown above that was no more legible.  Upon closer inspection I could ascertain nothing regarding the put-in point for a time crunched and slaveringly ravenous mountain biker.  I hadn’t plied the dirt for over a week.  The rain in this neck-o-the-woods has been getting to be somewhat bothersome.  My better judgment was addled due to my dirt withdrawals.

Finally, after fretting myself into a fit of nervous eating (Sport Beans though!) I hatcheted upon a truly revolutionary idea.  If this was a hot new mountain biking destination, semi-secret, but not expressly secret, then I should be able to find a segment on Strava.   

I consulted my increasingly useful Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Mountain Biking Galaxy (aka my smarty-smart phone) and found said Strava segment.  AH. HA.  I drove back out to Milner Road and hung yet another right and followed the narrow roadway to a 90° turn.  There was a fresh new gravel parking area on the right at the right angle bend and there I parked.

The whole scenario would have played out much differently had not the entire population of planet Earth been vaporized just as I decided I needed to ask someone at the LAC where the mountain biking was.  I was all alone, apocalyptically yours, though thankfully with internet services.

I jumped out at the trailhead, positively chomping at the bit to get on the trails while I still had time, and was completely uncertain where the trail began.  In a later conversation with a local MTBing guru (it seems my timing of the apocalypse was somewhat off) I learned that there is a telling KyMBA sticker somewhere in the vicinity of the actual trail terminus.  I saw nothing.

Well, I actually saw enough “No Trespassing” signs at the gap/gate in the fence to choke a mule, but I rode on through anyway.  Let’s just say my philosophy on land ownership is somewhat allemansr├Ąttenian.  Having grown up exploring in Kentucky I tend to look upon NT signs and interpret them very loosely.

The rewards of such blatant encroachment were immediately evident as I saw a no horses and no ATVs sign on the trail within a few pedal strokes.  I deduced this to mean that pedestrian and cyclotorial travel was welcome.
The upper approach trail is somewhat rough and needs traffic
 
My initial impression of the trail was of disappointment, but somewhere near the first creek crossing I started to get warmed up and into the spirit of things.  LAC has a character all its own.  Deep into the loop there are quite a few technical challenges.  I wouldn’t recommend taking kids or raw beginners there.  They won’t appreciate the elevation loss that must be regained to get back to the real world, and they won’t be wiled by the charms of a tucked in Kentucky River hollow (Lock Hollow to be exact).

The trails don’t have the park and rec feel that Veterans has.  They don’t have the feel of a place that’s had hours and hours of volunteer teams hacking away on wooded slopes to provide tasty bench cuts.  The whole place has an off-camber feel, and narrow, oddly undulating, and twisty singletrack that’s hard to predict.  Of the four Bluegrass MTB trail systems LAC is the ragged smelly cousin that no one is sure about.  But once you get to know him, that disreputable cousin is actually a pretty interesting guy.

I wish it had a better name than LAC.  Lock Hollow is unique.  Local.

Anyway, when the trail reaches the dry streambed of Lock Hollow it gets interesting, with rocky crossings, short steep bank climbs, twisty goodness, and a nice fast downhill stretch along one of those picturesque Bluegrass region stone fences.  The trail is technical enough to keep you laser focused on where you’re putting your wheels, but solid enough that you can keep right on pedaling over all the obstacles.  Well, there was that one log…
One creek crossing
 

Stone fence
 

You climb an old road grade out of the drainage to a wide swath of a powerline cut, and then you go right for a bit until the trail begins to dip into an obvious low spot.  Look right for the MTB trail and you’ll be confirmed with yet another no horses and no ATVs sign before plunging back into the green darkness of the forest cave.

The trail makes a few more twisty loops until it junctions back with the original trail and you begin backtracking along the creek for the climb out to the trailhead.  It wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.

I rode 5 miles, though I’ve heard there is close to 7 or 8.  According to the aforementioned Bluegrass MTB guru there are scads of dozens of more acres that can be converted to mountain biking purposes and the intent is to do just that.  On a weekday lunch scramble I had the place to myself and got to clear the whole trail system of spiderwebs all by myself.

To find the Woodford County trails either Google “Life Adventure Center of the Bluegrass” or take US 62 from either Versailles or Larryburg to just east of the Woodford/Anderson County line.  Locate Milner Road and identify the right angle curve west of the two main entrances of the LAC.  It’s a new gravel lot.  The trail begins catty-cornered to the TH behind the gate festooned with “No Trespassing Under Penalty of Death” signs.  The trail system is a lollipop layout and you’ll return to the exact point where you enter the system.  

If I were to rank the four Bluegrass trail systems by difficulty I would say (easiest to hardest):

1) Veterans Park

2) Capitol View Park

3) LAC

4) Skullbuster

 

From a quality standpoint, and only because of the relative ages of each area I would say (best to worst):

1) Skullbuster

2) Capitol View Park

3) Veterans Park

4) LAC (with potential to exceed VP for sure)

And there you have it, my completely random and spontaneous take on the new mountain bike trails in Woodford County.

 

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