Saturday, March 31, 2012

Old Scottsville Road (Video)

Bike:  KTM Super Duke R
Route:  Google Maps

Old Scottsville Road in Fall.

Old Scottsville Road in Summer.
Hills, curves, dips, kinks, and sweet fence rows.

This isn't the best road in the world; it's just my favorite...

The best roads I've traveled are in California where you can enjoy breathtaking & unrivaled ocean views, brutal yet starkly beautiful desert roads, and exhaustingly twisty routes carved through mountain ranges or snaking through canyons. These are my favorites:
Pacific Coast Highway, CA-190 descending into Panamint Valley heading towards Death Valley, and Angeles Crest Highway (closed).

I certainly had fun out West with the Jeep and the Buell, and my KTM also has a favorite California road -- Laguna Seca Raceway! Home of the Corkscrew, it's a magical place where we saw Alex Zanardi pull off The Pass and later saw Valentino Rossi do the same thing on two wheels.

That's where Ms. Black spent her first 2,000 miles doing laps as part of the now-defunct Skip Barber Superbike School, which means my motorcycle has a much cooler resume than I'll ever have. I had some great times at Laguna Seca, but I've never been on the track. My last visit was the most memorable and the KTM hadn't even been born yet...

Looking down on Turns 1-4 from the hill, looking over at the Corkscrew from the hill, watching Nicky Hayden salute the Turn 4 crowd (and vice versa).
The 2005 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix was the best sporting event I've ever attended, partly because it was the return of MotoGP to America and mostly because we saw fellow Kentuckian Nicky Hayden earn his first MotoGP victory in dominant flag-to-flag fashion. He had never won a GP, but he'd also never raced in a GP on home turf and we watched him come through Turn 4 ahead of Valentino Rossi on Every. Single. Lap. I might have cried a little. So what? It was so awesome they made a whole movie about it.

Anyway, back to the present day. I'm sure the KTM wasn't thrilled to leave Laguna Seca for Old Scottsville Road, and I'm not gonna say Dead Man's Curve or the Mid-Ohio Complex are anywhere near as fun as the Corkscrew, but I'd like to think she's having a good time here. She sure is treating me well.

Old Scottsville Road in Fall.
(Dead Man's Curve not exactly visible on the right.)

This has been my favorite 6.5 miles of asphalt since the first time I moved to Alvaton, before I could even drive. When I moved back to Kentucky I rented a house at the end of the road and got married there. When I bought my first house I made sure it had a proper address. When my son was born he came home to Old Scottsville Road. I probably sound a little crazy, but this road puts a smile on my face every day... every day I leave the house, anyway.

The first (or last) two or three miles on the Southern end are pretty boring with some fun hills, nice views, a new church, a fire station, and a new elementary school... but not much in the way of twists & turns. The rest of the road is the exact opposite -- it's a winding ribbon of hills, curves, dips, and kinks that really provide a fun riding or driving experience. There are no businesses; it's just farmland and residential properties (you'll pass dilapidated homes, mobile homes, and million-dollar homes). It doesn't take long to find the rhythm of this road, and once you do you'll be hooked. And then you'll wonder why your wife always takes the new Scottsville Road to town and back.

[And then she'll probably say something about deer, turkeys, peacocks, squirrels, possums, skunks, foxes, dogs, bad drivers, and whatever else. It's true -- like any country road with blind hills and blind corners and girls on cell phones, you will encounter surprises at times. It's not a racetrack, and people that treat it like one sometimes pay a price.]

It's not the best road in the world; it's just my favorite.

The KTM on Old Scottsville Rd in Fall.

Last week I was playing with various ways to mount the GoPro HD HERO2 and shoot video from the KTM. The camera is phenomenal, especially for the price, but I'm not happy with any of my mounting options on this bike -- they all suffer from too much vibration (I guess the GoPro would be completely unusable on the Buell). But I did three runs and I didn't want to totally waste the video, so by using various parts of each one I created a virtual traffic-free run going both directions. That never happens in real life.

So here's Old Scottsville Road in Spring. All of it. Both ways. I just wish I could have done this five or six years ago, before the power line projects and the other tree-cutting operations. Because as much as I love this road now, I loved it more back then.

[NOTE:  Scroll down to the bottom for higher-quality 1080p video.]



UPDATE (4/1/12):  I also uploaded the video to Vimeo in full 1080p quality -- not because I think it's the most awesome video ever, but because people frequently ask me about the camera and Vimeo offers higher playback quality. So, here's what a GoPro HD HERO2 does in 1080-30FPS mode while mounted on a bitchin' 75-degree V-twin at responsible speeds on a fun road.

UPDATE II (4/11/12):  Speaking of turkeys...

That poor bird got killed by my right shoulder about one second later. I refer to this section of road as Turkey Hill for obvious reasons -- we often see turkeys roaming the farmland at the bottom of the hill by the creek, or a field between two wooded areas at the top. I'd never before seen one standing on the road between those guardrails, but this is the time of year when they are acting stupid.

It flew right into me (if you can call whatever they do flying) just as I was thinking, "That looks like a turkey; it won't try to fly." I heard a cracking noise when we hit and at first didn't know if it was bird bones or my bones, but my shoulder still works and the bird is laying on the other side of that guardrail. I was left with a good bruise, a good scare, and a good lesson learned -- next time I'll think, "That looks like a turkey, and it's about to fly straight at my head!"

Props to Joe Rocket for the shoulder protection.

UPDATE III (7/10/12):  And sometimes this happens...

I love Kentucky.

UPDATE IV (10/21/12):  A bunch of fall foliage pictures here...

Dead Man's Curve.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Flavor Isle (Smiths Grove, KY)

Bike:  KTM Super Duke R
Route:  Google Maps

I first noticed Flavor Isle while I was passing through Smiths Grove on my way to Porky Pig Diner a few weeks ago. I've occasionally stopped in Smiths Grove for gas, but that's about it. I really didn't know there was any decent place to eat here, and I had no idea there was a burger joint this cool. After asking around, I'm surprised I never heard about Flavor Isle before -- it's been here forever! It has belonged to the current owner for nearly 50 years, and I don't know if it was around before 1964 or not. But it's been around a lot longer than I have.

I really thought I could fit this ride into a normal one-hour lunch break, and I almost did. But two missed turns on the way back turned into 25+ extra miles of fun, so I was a little bit late. No worries. It's hard to get too lost for too long around here, and it's fun to ride new roads even if you don't know where they're heading, or whether they're heading anywhere at all...

It's Spring, but not quite Springtime.


Smiths Grove, KY is located at I-65 Exit 38. At the exit, head North past the fast food joints and across the railroad tracks. You'll find Flavor Isle at First & Main, about a mile from the I-65 exit in the center of the Historic District. It really is sad to think about all the people who never make it past McDonalds or Wendy's. Poor people. I used to be one of those people.

Buggy Parking I.
Antiques I.

Antiques II.
First & Main.
Here we are...
Ice cream. You scream. Smiths Grove was featured in Halloween.
Flavor Isle.
You can order & eat outside (two tables), or you can order & eat inside (four tables). You could probably even order inside & eat outside, or order outside & eat inside!
Bacon Cheeseburger, Fries, and a Chocolate Milkshake.

VERDICT:  I talked to another customer who said he'd been visiting for 38 years and that his Mom had been coming for many years before he was born. I can see why Flavor Isle has been in business for so long -- it's a great place to grab a burger and shake.

They are proud of the fact that they make their own patties out of fresh, never frozen, ground beef. It's a friendly place with character, and it might take a few minutes longer than the drive-thrus down the street, but I can't imagine going to those places while I can get a good fresh made-to-order meal for the same price here! And there's nothing wrong with relaxing on the patio with a milkshake while the rest of your meal is prepared.

Flavor Isle reminds me a lot of Berties in Brownsville. Both are small places with bigger menus than you might expect. And like the ladies at Berties, Gail at Flavor Isle wouldn't tell me what their specialty was -- she just said everything was good, and I might as well believe her because she certainly make a mean burger! She also told me that the owner, Joyce, would be having some sort of 50th Anniversary celebration in 2014 where she sells everything at 1964 prices. I do not want to miss that...

Flavor Isle.

Smiths Grove is a neat little town to drive through. It feels like a lot of other old railroad towns that used to be bigger, but as the second-largest town in Warren County it is a healthy community. I'm not sure if the antiques business is still going strong here or if it has seen better days, but the Historic District definitely has some cool old buildings.

Antiques III.
The Victorian House B&B is for sale across the street from Flavor Isle. I almost stopped and bought it, but then I remembered I left that $700,000 at home because I was just running out for a burger.
Antiques IV.
This is about the last place I expected to see a MMA Gym, but there it is... in an old antiques shop, of course.


I'm guessing it used to be a school, but school is not in session anymore. Oh, and horse poop.

Horse Shoeing & Saddle Shop.


Now I know that had I taken that second left above, I would have been home a lot sooner. But getting a little turned around in Horse & Buggy territory and riding through some nice farmland I've never seen before wasn't so bad. Anyway, I'll remember that turn next time!

I guessed left...

...and left was most definitely not right.

I had to choose left this time, which would have been right the first time. Technically, left and right were both wrong.

I ended up heading back towards Smiths Grove. It took me a minute to realize that, and now I realize that when it's cloudy and road signs are missing, it's easy for these things to happen.

Yeah, that's the same Horse & Buggy from 30 minutes ago. They've covered some ground since I last saw them, but I covered more.
Buggy Parking II.

The Dam Store's still closed, baby. The Dam Store is still closed...
KTM Super Duke R, cleaner than usual.
Barren River Lake Dam.

If you gotta run into the Po-Po, a stop sign is a good place to do it!

Headin' home, ahead of the storm...

Planned Route.

UPDATE (6/20/12):  Stopped in for some Ice Cream on the first evening of Summer 2012...

Flavor Isle.
Oreo Blizzard & Small Swirl Ice Cream Cone.

VOICE BEHIND ME:  What are you doing?
ME:  Taking a picture.
VBM:  I know.  But of an ice cream cone?
ME:  OK, I see your point...

I'm telling y'all, this is hard work.

Historic District, Smiths Grove, KY
Summer Solstice 2012

UPDATE (4/4/14):  I learned today that the 50th Anniversary celebration is scheduled for May 3rd (also Kentucky Derby day).  They will be serving items from the 1964 menu at 1964 prices, which means hot dogs for $0.15 and milkshakes for $0.25.  Too cool!

UPDATE (5/3/14):  So the big day arrived, and sure enough they were serving up the 1964 menu items at 1964 prices. We were too late to get any hot dogs, but we had a fine time on 65 cents...