Ride Bikes, Drink Bourbon — the catchy tagline of the Bourbon Country Burn, a recent addition to the litany of multi-day bike events that are more about the experience, camaraderie, and sightseeing than the sufferfest most bike events we’ve been familiar with can be. So we did: Rode Bikes, Drank Bourbon.
Lexington, KY is best known for its sprawling horse farms, southern hospitality, and being the home of bourbon whiskey. It’s also near and dear to the hearts of “lifelong Kentuckians” Mollie Hanrahan and Austin Render, the co-founders of the ride. After a bicycle tour of South America, they realized that their home state of Kentucky also offers a unique perspective from the saddle of a bike, so they set out to create a memorable event in horse country. Spanning three days, the event visits at least six distilleries, and offers a fully supported choose-your-own-adventure format with routes from 20-100 miles in order to cater to novices and enthusiasts alike. Regardless of a rider's skill or comfort level, there was an option for everyone.
My previous time in Kentucky was short — a drive through on my way back to Colorado from Virginia, so I was excited to get back to the Bluegrass state to do two of my favorite things: ride a bicycle and drink bourbon. I’d spent the previous three months slowly recovering from an unfun bout of summer pneumonia, so I knew I’d be opting for the shortest routes possible. The ability to ride as little or as much as I felt I could handle was incredibly reassuring.
Friday’s options included a 22-mile “casual” route that took riders along the Legacy Trail, a 12-mile path that winds from the Kentucky Horse Park on the north side of Lexington through downtown and past Bluegrass Distillery before making a return loop after visiting Town Branch Distillery. The path featured public art, like murals representing the history of Lexington as well as interpretive signage commemorating events and the karst landscape of Kentucky.
Saturday included a 60-mile jaunt to the famous Woodford Reserve. We caught a number of cyclists meeting non-riding friends at the distillery for a cocktail and a snack before continuing on to Four Roses. Sunday’s long ride took participants out to Paris, KY, which is the home of Hartfield & Co, the only distillery in Bourbon County.
Awaiting riders each day when they arrived back was Bourbon Base Camp. The organizers put together a mini expo featuring tasting samples from partner distilleries, food trucks, massages, coffee vendors and a bar trailer for those who wanted libations besides bourbon. VIP tastings, educational sessions and live music provided the entertainment each night. Base Camp buzzed with energy as people jockeyed to get tastings from their favorite distillers and find a good seat for the bands.
Events like The Bourbon Country Burn are growing in popularity. It’s a great way for dedicated riders to connect with their less cycling passionate friends to share the experience. By providing lengths and amenities that will cater to many levels of riders, The Bourbon Country Burn has found that sweet spot.
On Day One, my colleague Isaac Novak and I met a group from all over the Midwest at Bluegrass Distillery. One of the riders called themself “terrified” of bicycling, but was having a great time with friends on the casual route. We also realized that there were a couple non-riders who were meeting up with their friends on bikes to tour the distilleries as well. The next day at Woodford Reserve, we were stopped a number of times to find out about our bike kits and “all those people on the bicycles”, from tourists who were intrigued by the idea of biking from distillery to distillery.
The draw of this event is the beautiful countryside, the world class bourbon and the experience with family and friends. Once novice cyclists get a chance to participate in local group rides, like the Bicycle Sport Shop Women’s Day rides, they’re looking for that next adventure that will take them somewhere new on their bike. Events like Bourbon Country Burn offer that attainable yet aspirational adventure.
Curious about how Ride Spot can help with your event? Big or small, Ride Spot provides a simple tool to organize your event and tell the story of why your tour of Southern Architecture or biking for a good cause like OnBikes is the bike event to attend. Email Jordan to learn more about how to set up your free profile.