Get ready for Bike Lexington on Saturday

May 29, 2012

The long Memorial Day weekend is over and you’re back at work today — thinking about what to do next weekend.

Well, get your bicycle out of the garage Saturday morning and head downtown for the annual Bike Lexington Family Fun Ride, a roll around the city without having to worry about cars getting in your way.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Courthouse Plaza, and the ride begins promptly at 10 a.m. There will be a Kids’ Bike Safety Rodeo and children’s bike race from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. There also will be food vendors and a raffle for a free bike from Bike Lexington’s main sponsor, Pedal Power Bike Shop.

The Family Fun Ride route map is below. For more information, go to

This is the weekend to get out your bicycle

May 26, 2011

Keep your fingers crossed, but it looks as if the weather will cooperate for Central Kentucky’s big bicycle weekend. Events are planned for cyclists of every kind, from kids and newbies to spandex-clad regulars:

Friday-Sunday: The Bluegrass Cycling Club hosts its 33rd annual Horsey Hundred tour of rural Central Kentucky. The event begins Friday afternoon with registration at Georgetown College and a pre-ride party at Royal Springs Park in Georgetown. On Saturday, there will be rides of 26, 36, 50, 76 and 102 miles to choose from. On Sunday, the rides are 34, 50 or 70 miles. There will be lunch and plenty of rest stops both days, plus a party in Midway on Saturday evening. For more information and registration, go to

Saturday: The Bike Bash takes place at Cheapside Park in downtown Lexington from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will be music by the Matt Duncan Band, “slow” bike races and a stunt show by professional mountain bike rider Mike Steidley.

Monday: Several thousand cyclists will converge on Courthouse Plaza in downtown Lexington for the annual Bike Lexington events. This free day of fun, sponsored by Pedal Power Bike Shop, includes a car-free, 10-mile family fun ride through Lexington that starts at noon. Other activities include a bike safety rodeo for kids at 10 a.m., bike races all afternoon, vendors and more. For more information:

Cyclists of all ages take to streets for Bike Lexington

May 31, 2010

More than 2,500 people filled Courthouse Plaza downtown Monday for Bike Lexington, the culmination of a month of bicycle-related events and activities.  Bike Lexington included a 10-mile family fun ride, races, trick riding demonstrations, vendors and bike raffles by prime sponsor Pedal Power Bike Shop.

At Bike Lexington, officials announced the results of the Commuter Bike Challenge, a competition in which employees at local companies and organizations logged commuting miles to and from work. Nearly 500 rider participants logged a total of about 12,000 miles. The employers with the most miles included Bullhorn marketing, Awesome Inc., the University of Kentucky Libraries and UK Chemistry Department.

On Saturday and Sunday, nearly 2,000 cyclists from around the country were in the area to participate in the Bluegrass Cycling Club’s 33rd annual Horse Hundred ride through Scott, Fayette, Bourbon and Woodford Counties. That event was based at Georgetown College and included rides each day of between 26 and 102 miles.

Click on each thumbnail to see entire photo:

A rainy celebration of Lexington bike culture

May 25, 2009

Toddlers in trailers. Tykes on training wheels. Boys and girls on their first “real” bikes. Racers on titanium and carbon fiber. Grandmothers on cruisers. People of all ages and sizes on ancient Schwinns and Huffys.

They were all at Monday’s Bike Lexington celebration.

The downtown event was moved to Memorial Day this year to coordinate with the Bluegrass Cycling Club’s 32nd annual Horsey Hundred tour. That ride brought more than 1,700 cyclists from across the nation to ride Central Kentucky countryside on Saturday and Sunday.

Despite threatening weather, more than 700 people came out for the main event, a 10-mile family fun ride through downtown and the University of Kentucky campus. Toward the end of the ride, the skies opened and everyone got drenched. Nobody seemed to mind.

Many stayed through the rain for bike raffles and to hear Mayor Jim Newberry and Urban County Council member Jay McChord talk about how trails and bike lanes are a big part of Lexington’s plan to become the healthiest and most bicycle-friendly city in Kentucky.

But council members weren’t just speaking, they were riding. George Myers was pulling his 28-month-old daughter, Aubrey, in a weatherproof trailer. Doug Martin rode with his 9-year-old son, Reynolds. Chuck Ellinger, who racks up a lot of miles most weekends on the same model racer Lance Armstrong rides, was on a $10 garage sale Huffy.

Between rains, people watched races and a bike polo demonstration.

The bike polo teams had just returned from Dayton, Ohio, where they placed 4th and 8th among 27 teams at the 6th annual Midwest Bike Polo Championships. Bike polo started in Lexington about three years ago. Games are held each Sunday and Wednesday evening on four converted tennis courts at Coolivan Park.

A dozen groups had tents on the courthouse plaza, showing the diversity of Lexington’s bike culture.

One was Cycle 4 Sunday, a group organized by first-year UK physical therapy students to raise money for Surgery on Sunday, an outreach to needy people by Lexington’s medical community.

Another was Shifting Gears, a project of Pedal Power bike shop and Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

I did the family fun ride on a 25-year-old bike I bought last year with a donation to Shifting Gears.

Pedal Power, the main sponsor of Bike Lexington, takes donated bikes, refurbishes them and gives them to KRM, which distributes them to foreign refugees who have recently settled here. More than 100 bikes have been given away so far.

Pedal Power owner Billy Yates said he has another 200 donated bikes in his shop’s attic, awaiting repair by his mechanics and volunteers from the Pedal Power racing team. He’s looking for some donated storage and work space so he can get more of the bikes to refugees sooner.

“Bikes are like gold for these refugees,” said Katie Weber of KRM. “It provides a way to run errands, and it opens up so many doors for jobs. They can ride to work, or ride home or to work from the bus line.”

One popular attraction was Berry Pedalers, which lets people help make themselves a fruit smoothie on two blenders powered by converted bicycles.

“He builds the bikes and I tell him what color to paint them,” said Jarah Jones, an art teacher at Sayre School who runs the business with her husband, Shane Tedder.

“It’s a really fun way to get people thinking differently about food, power and transportation,” said Tedder, who is UK’s sustainability coordinator.

Berry Pedalers is a regular at the Lexington Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, selling bicycle-blended smoothies made from locally grown fruit and berries.

“Lexington has completely changed when it comes to bicycles,” Yates said. “Look at the diversity here; it’s amazing. You have families, kids, racers, commuters. The common denominator is bikes.”

Lexington turns out on two wheels

May 17, 2008

Lexington is never more beautiful than on a sunny spring day, viewed from the seat of a bicycle. It looks even better when everyone else is on a bicycle, too.

This was Bike Lexington weekend, and everyone downtown seemed to be on two wheels.

The fun began Friday evening along Euclid Avenue with the prologue of a three-day stage race that attracted more than 150 racers — and several times that many spectators.

“Three restaurants in Chevy Chase told us last night they had never been so busy on a Friday night — and their road was closed,” said Joe Graviss, a McDonald’s restaurant franchisee who helps sponsor a local racing team.

What makes Bike Lexington special isn’t the racers — it’s the average folks who come out on all kinds of bikes.

“This may be my most enjoyable day of the year in Lexington,” said Mayor Jim Newberry.

The main event was the Saturday bike rally, which attracted more than 1,000 people to the courthouse plaza.

Corporate sponsors Humana and Pedal Power and Pedal the Planet bike shops set up festival booths, as did cycling organizations.

Bicycle police officers were there, as well as the fire department’s new Bike Medics, showing off their rigs.

The idea behind Bike Medics is to quickly reach an ill or injured person at a crowded event. A paramedic on a bicycle can administer first aid and prepare the person for evacuation on a small utility vehicle.

“We can do everything on these bikes that we can do on these trucks,” said firefighter Anthony Johnson, whose bike packs held a heart defibrillator and other equipment, along with emergency drugs. “It also makes it less likely we’re going to hurt somebody else like we might if we tried to take a truck into a crowd.”

The Brain Injury Association of Kentucky fitted and gave away 250 bicycle helmets. And the Yellow Bike program, which offers public loaner bikes downtown, signed up new members.

Shane Tedder served up fruit smoothies on his bicycle-powered blender, which he and welder Patrick Garnett built from old bike frames.

In remarks to the crowd, Newberry said promoting bicycling for fitness, recreation and transportation is a priority of both his administration and the Urban County Council.

“We’ve made some significant improvements, and we’re going to do more and more,” Newberry said.

Lexington has 19 miles of bike lanes on streets and 12 miles of trails, Newberry said, and more are planned.

Newberry and at least two council members were among the estimated 800 people who participated in the 10-mile family fun ride through downtown and the University of Kentucky campus, around Commonwealth Stadium, out Richmond Road and back. That were about 100 more participants than last year, said Kenzie Gleason, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

People of all ages and sizes, riding all kinds of bicycles, cruised through the cool morning breeze on a course closed to motorized traffic. There were many children and more than a few senior citizens.

“You can see biking has really taken off in Lexington,” said councilman Chuck Ellinger.

Councilman Tom Blues, who like Ellinger is an avid cyclist, predicted that more people will bike as more trails and lanes are built — and as more people realize that Central Kentucky’s rural roads are a cycling paradise. Rising gas prices won’t hurt, either.

Bruce and Jessica Rishel of Versailles brought their two young children to Bike Lexington last year, and they’ve been eager to come back ever since. “She thinks the courthouse is for bike festivals,” Jessica Rishel said of her daughter.

The Rishel children — Anemone, 5, and Alex, 3 — wore helmets and rode tiny bikes with training wheels for the kid races. Their parents pulled them in a bike trailer on the family fun ride.

As I got ready to start the 10-mile ride, I pulled up beside Jim Hilke of Paris, who is something of a legend in the Bluegrass Cycling Club. Hilke turns 78 next week. He has already ridden 700 miles this year, and he’ll get in another 1,300 or so before Christmas.

Because cycling doesn’t pound your body like running and some other sports, it can be a lifelong activity.

Hilke said he’s starting to slow down, what with arthritis and all. But I think it’s a ruse: The last time I rode with him, it was all I could do to keep up.

As the family fun ride started, Hilke pulled out ahead of me, and I thought of little Alex Rishel riding in his bike trailer somewhere back in the crowd. In 75 years — at Bike Lexington 2083 — he just might be the next Jim Hilke.

Top photo: Shane Tedder, right, built the bicycle-powered blender with help from welder Patrick Garnett. He made smoothies with help from Jake Samson, 13, who supplied the pedal power.

Bottom photo:Bruce and Jessica Rishel of Versailles came with son Alex, 3, and daughter Anemone, 5. Photos/Tom Eblen

May is bicycle month: Have fun, be safe

May 5, 2008

As an avid cyclist, I’m pleased to see Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry and the Urban County Council embracing pedal power.

Lexington is joining cities across the country – even New York City, of all places – in making safe cycling for recreation and transportation a top priority. Cycling’s time has come, even if gas didn’t cost more than $3.50 a gallon.

Newberry has appointed a 17-member task force headed by bike enthusiast Brad Flowers to help the city accomplish recommendations that came from a bicycle summit meeting last fall.

Those initiatives include a variety of events in May. The highlight will be the Bike Lexington Rally downtown on Saturday, May 17. The Rally is a car-free, 10-mile family ride around downtown Lexington. I went last year, and it was a lot of fun. The mayor was there, too, and rode the whole way.

A new Bike Lexington event this year is a three-day stage race, May 16-18, that hopes to attract racers from around the country. Beginning that Friday evening, racers will compete on a two mile course along the Avenue of Champions/Euclid Ave. There will be activities for spectators at Memorial Coliseum. It should be fun to watch.

Go to Bike Lexington’s Web site for more information.

Another local resource is the Bluegrass Cycling Club, which sponsors rides every week for cyclists of all experience levels. The club’s big annual event, the Horsey Hundred, is coming up Memorial Day weekend.

Some people ride bikes for fun; for others, it’s a form of transportation. Sadly, a Louisville commuter cyclist was killed early Sunday on his way to work when he was hit by an off-duty police officer. Read about it here.

You’ll see a lot more cyclists on roads throughout the state now that the weather is warming. Here are some links to help cyclists and motorists ride more safely:

Safety information for cyclists

Safety information for motorists

An overview from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

And for more information about Kentucky’s cool “Share the Road” license plate, shown above, click here.