It’s a common problem for road cyclists: Where on earth can we safely ride our bikes and get in good training? Stories of driver rage against cyclists appear all too frequently in the news these days.
Happily in Louisville we are very fortunate. We’ve got a beautiful parks system (did you know that Louisville is known as the City of Parks?), including some designed by famed landscape architect F.L. Olmstead, as well as reasonably easy access to beautiful roads through rolling hills, bluegrass and horse farms, all within an easy pedal out of the city.
(Top right: “Dog Hill” in Cherokee Park – where the ride really starts….)
Personally, my favorite route features all of the above. Local racers play theme and variations with these roads to get great riding in a beautiful and challenging setting.
Leaving my apartment I am a mere 4 minutes to one the Louisville’s Olmstead gems: Cherokee Park. After getting a nice warm-up through the park it’s a quick trip down Indian Hill Trails, featuring a quick swoopy descent that frequently sees some country club deer making guest appearances right on down to River Road. River Road, beautiful by itself or as a gateway to my favorite roads toward the east, zooms along the banks of the Ohio and, even though it’s dead flat, can feature awesome tail winds and fearsome headwinds depending on your luck. Out through towards Prospect, you are sure to see cyclists following this route as part of their IronMan Louisville training plan.
(Indian Hill Trail)
Then it’s a quick hop along to the adrenaline-pumping Route 42 (Frogger anyone? blip, blip….) until you turn left onto Rose Island Road. I always have to sit up a little as we roll past Henry’s Ark – a weird little zoo where you can spot Emu, deer, geese, ducks, zebras and …is that a Dromedary?? As you ride along, the road gets a little more rolling, with short little power bursts and roads that narrow down until they remind me of Belgian farm roads. At the end of Rose Island Road you’ll find yourself climbing up Goshen. Now let’s be honest – this is not the Alps. But it’s a three-stair-step climb that always makes me thankful for the 26 on my SRAM cassette.
At the top of Goshen we’re back on 42 and the roads are wide open – a little traffic-y but not terrible – and we’re headed out into some beautiful horse farmland. Turn right on to 1694 and the IronMan course and there is a gorgeous Thoroughbred farm and I am always slowing down to look for long-legged babies. Then comes my favorite descent in the area – great pavement, swoopy good fun. Climb up, turn onto Covered Bridge Road, turn onto Sleepy Hollow and mentally you are at the halfway point. Speed down Sleepy Hollow – it’s so gorgeous. Lots of falling water, creeks, waterfalls. Climb up and there you are at the community of Norton Commons and my favorite pit stop at the gelato joint – not for ice cream, I would die!! – but for a delicious, cold, refreshing Goose Island Rootbeer. Not to be missed on a hot day! From there it really is the home stretch – the up and down Wolf Pen Branch – and I am counting down the number of hills left before I am home, all the way back to the flat, fast River Road and back on home.
(Thoroughbred farm on 1694)