As previously mentioned, last Saturday I joined a buddy of mine for a ride down to Woodford Reserve Distillery, south of Frankfurt, Kentucky. The weather forecast has been crap since at least last Friday, so I left the house prepared to battle the elements. Packing for a trip like this isn’t normally complicated, but with a forecast including temperatures in the upper 80s combined with scattered showers, rain gear was a must. I realize some guys are rolling their eyes at this point, but honestly, if I’m going to be on the bike for eight plus hours, I’m going to be comfortable, it’s different if I’m headed home from the local bike night. At any rate, I’m also prepping for a “Saddlesore 1000” ride that I have planned for this summer, so I also dropped the tail bag on the back seat of the bike, loaded down with rain gear, extra jacket, snacks, and my camelbak.
Considering I ride through south Dayton and Cincinnati on a regular basis, for me, the best parts of the trip mostly start at the river crossing. Admittedly, I hadn’t spent much time on Route 128 outside Hamilton before, but I can tell you about the roads south of Dayton anytime. On U.S. Route 50 (US 50) we headed over to Anderson Ferry to cross the river; I suppose it’s silly, but I get a kick out of taking a ferry somewhere. I don’t know if it’s some sort of nostalgia or what, but I think ferry rides are fun. “Put your motorcycle on a boat” was actually a moto bucket list item for me last year before starting this blog; I took some friends across the river on the Augusta Ferry to have lunch in Augusta, Kentucky. Last time I took a ferry ride, I was impressed at how fast you actually cross the river. Having been to Put-N-Bay (Ohio) many times, I expected the ferry ride to put a serious slowdown in the middle of the ride, but these ferry boats around Cincinnati are not playing around. No sooner had I thought that, a coal barge came through mid-river. Fortunately, it’s all part of the experience; when I was a kid I used to watch barges roll up and down the Ohio river when I stayed with my grandparents in Rising Sun, Indiana, so that nostalgia set in again.
Once across the river we hit Kentucky Route 8 (KY 8) headed toward KY 20 and the Airport. I’m told KY 8 is actually quite scenic, similar to US 50 and US 52 on the Ohio side. I’m looking forward to spending more time on all three roads. After a sweet hairpin turn on, KY 20 has a few nice twisties up the river bank as it heads over toward the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport. My buddy Al mentioned to me that I would get a sweet tunnel out of this section of the ride, which didn’t disappoint. As it turns out, KY 20 runs beneath the airport runway (well… kind of). From KY 20 it was a short jaunt around the airport on KY237 and finally on to US 127.
I’ve actually been on US 127 many times in Ohio between Hamilton and Greenville, where it’s a complete snooze on a motorcycle. Unlike in Ohio, US 127 in Kentucky is quite scenic. Initially I would compare it to KY 11, but between the river and Lexington, I would say 127 is the more scenic of the two. KY 11 has unfortunately been opened to four lanes in a lot of places, which, while faster, has taken away from the scenery and the experience. Mind you, riding on these Kentucky two lane routes can be particularly frustrating when stuck behind a slow pickup truck or a tractor, but aside from that, the two-lane surfing over the bluegrass and rolling hills of Kentucky is way better than the freeway if you have the time.
Rolling through Glencoe, Owenton, crossing the Kentucky river, and passing Buffalo Trace Distillery, we finally arrived in Frankfort for Lunch. My buddy Al planned a stop at “Cook Out”, a place I had never heard of before. As it turns out, someone has taken the all-American cookout menu and turned it into a fast food franchise; who knew? Considering I’m a food-truck-aholic, I was sold on the idea. Per the mantra, I ordered a loaded dog with chili cheese fries. Reviewing their menu prior to this blog post I somehow managed to miss the fact that they had 38 milkshake flavors on the menu; I’ll keep that in mind for a return visit (Perhaps a Buffalo Trace Distillery tour?).
US 127 was a really nice ride, but what I assumed would be the best part of the ride was actually KY 1659 headed toward Millville and Versailles, Kentucky. KY 1659 follows Glenns Creek from the Kentucky River until it hits a series of horse farms near Versailles. Along KY 1659 I was really impressed with the old stone walls, closed distilleries (I think…), and general Appalachian feel. Similar to my Menifee County ride a few weeks back, I love my Appalachian roots, and enjoy every minute I spend winding through Kentucky backroads, just taking it all in. I’ve been searching on Google for the names of the other businesses (or closed businesses) that I passed on the way to Woodford Reserve, but I’ve been unable to find any information, hopefully one of you knows better than I do, they seemed like other cool places to visit and take photos.
Once at Woodford Reserve, it was well above eighty degrees so we took a few moments to advantage of the air conditioning; especially me, decked out in armored riding gear. I snapped a few photos of the grounds and the various wares available in the gift ship. I had another event I needed to get to, so from the Distillery it was pretty much the Freeway home. At some point I’m looking to take the wife down to the distillery for a tour; apparently for about $10 a person there’s an hour tour of the facility. I’ve actually never had bourbon (tends to get in the way of my Vodka), but considering my Kentucky heritage I will need to remedy this problem at my earliest convenience (sometime that I’m not riding on two wheels).
Up until last weekend I had spent very little time west of Lexington. To my surprise, the roads around Frankfort were actually quite good, even though I’ve had a prejudice toward eastern Kentucky until now. Despite all my planning and extra gear, the rain actually held off; yet another strike against our infallible weather service. I’m looking forward to another trip with more time to soak up more of the history in Bourbon Country. If you’ve done some touring along the Bourbon trail, please leave a comment below about other places to visit, especially if you know the best twisty roads to get there!