Monday, January 6

2024: A Cycling Odyssey

I turn 40 next month.  I’m okay with it.  It’s just a number.  I’m 39 today; why would turning 40 in a little over 30 days change my outlook from what it is now.  I’ve gotten to this point slow and steady.  I know I’ll continue on down the road at the same pace until I hit the ultimate Pavement’s Edge.

Okay, so each mile I go seems to pass faster than the last. That doesn’t mean a derned thing.

I turn 40 next month.  In 10 years I’ll be 50: a half century old.  What will I have to show after living on this planet for five decades?  Since this is my cycling blog and I don’t deal a whole lot with my personal life or other things here I’m only going to address what I want to see in my life from that perspective over the next decade.  I’m saying this because I want to acknowledge that I have a life beyond bikes and these things, while affecting the remainder of my life, are not all encompassing.
Here we go.
Kentucky (particularly Eastern Kentucky) will become a mountain biking destination.  This will be accomplished through the development of the Sheltowee Trace into a bikepacking resource as well as growing into the backbone of a regional trail network.  This will also be accomplished through the development of as many county level bike parks as can be constructed in this time.  It would be icing on the cake if each county in the eastern part of the state could have at least 10-20 miles of quality MTB trails with a local contingent in each place.
Counties that I know of that have something in the works or planning stages right now:
Estill, Lee, Laurel, Floyd, Greenup (additions to existing), Clark, Rowan (already has miles of trails in place), Powell
Powell County…
…will have a bike shop.
…will have a multi-use trail connecting Stanton to the eastern and western ends of the county.
…will have 20+ miles of mountain biking.
…will have a strong cycling and running club.
…will host annual cycling events both on and off road.
…will have a cycling culture.
…my family will not be the only one with cargo bikes in Stanton.
 A pipe dream I have is that by 2024 there will be a thriving high school mountain bike league in the region.  I foresee that there will be enough trail resources within the next few years that there could easily be a league of 15 counties on the border between Central and Eastern Kentucky and (only because it’s out of my realm of direct knowledge) an undetermined number of counties to the east and west.  In 2024 my youngest will be 17 and my eldest 21.  I’m hoping I can work so that they can benefit from a league like this if they should choose.
I’m not the one that will completely envision this reality, nor am I the one that will make it all happen, but I will be one of the engines driving this area to that end.  I don’t think I’m alone in my vision any more.  And even if there are few of us seeing a misty future of amazing cycling in Eastern Kentucky’s future with each new adventure someone else becomes interested in the possibilities and begins thinking about bikes on the Cumberland Plateau in a new light.
In the short term there are a few surprising and encouraging new developments in the mountain biking realm in my area.  I can’t divulge too much right now, but as soon as I can I promise I will share here on the Pavement’s Edge.
Generally speaking I know of five trail projects and a possible sixth that will add upwards of 3,000 acres of semi-private land available for MTB development within an easy hour’s drive of my house and at Cave Run Lake there is a new area to be opened for MTB specific trails and a lot of others that will be able to be improved now.  If I had 1.2 million dollars I know of nearly 700 more acres that would soon have mountain bike trails criss-crossing it.
Alas, I do not have that sort of cash just lying around (it’s buried across three counties in coffee cans at undisclosed locations) so I’ll have to wait until the rest of the world wakes up to my vision or society collapses.  I’ll be happy either way.
Is my vision ambitious?  Oh heck yeah.  Is it reasonable?  I see no reason why it couldn’t be fully implemented within the next three years, but I’m allowing a full decade.  Will it happen?  Eh.  We’ll see.  But you gotta have goals to go along with vision.  If you don’t have concrete ideas then your vision really can’t be much more than a pipe dream.  Huzzah!
The recent tragic and chaotic death of my friend has brought my own mortality into fine focus.  I want to live a long and healthy life.  But there is that reality lurking that none of us are guaranteed anything more than the breath we just took.  And that can sometimes cause a hitch in your continued breathing and a skipping of your heart no matter its level of pliability or resistance.
The future is always uncertain.  So go at it with abandon and don’t look back. 

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