While I’m not normally a big fan of planning rides over holiday weekends, that’s just the way it worked out for our trip to the Jim Beam Distillery. We left the morning of July 4th from my house in Bunker Hill, WV and started to head west toward Moorefield, WV.
I was riding my FJR with my girlfriend, Kristen on the back while my buddy, Thad was riding a 2002 Kawasaki ZR-7S. We rode out the newer section of Rt. 48 (Corridor H) until it came to an end at the top of Mt. Storm. The morning had started out unseasonably cold with temperatures dipping down into the 50’s. Fortunately, it began to warm up soon after we got back on Rt. 50 and continued to head west through West Virginia.
We clicked off a little over 300 miles before stopping in Athens, Ohio for lunch at a place called the Pub. OH-93 was a ton of fun with great pavement, nice twisties and great view. We stopped outside of Ashland, Kentucky to fuel up before heading to Lexington for the night. By the time we rolled into a motorcycle-friendly Days Inn for the night, we’d totaled 515 miles for the day.
4th of July in Lexington
After an ok dinner at the hotel bar/restaurant, we got a Lyft driver to take us downtown. Once dropped off we saw temporary outdoor bars, a live band and a huge crowd of people. We walked into the Bluegrass Tavern where Thad ordered the first round of drinks (he ended up drinking most of my old-fashioned I’d ordered…ugh). We ended our night at Belle’s Cocktail House which I highly recommend checking out if you’re ever in Lexington. Belle’s had a great atmosphere and one helluva selection of bourbon.
We wake up to find oil on the ground underneath Thad’s bike…definitely not something to want to see on when you’re over 500 miles from home. Fortunately it was just coming from the catch bottle so no real cause for alarm.
We had about a 90 mile ride after breakfast to get to Clermont, Kentucky to take our tour of the Jim Beam Distillery. I have to admit, seeing the Jim Beam barn when you turn onto Happy Hollow Road is pretty damn cool.
However, pulling up to the Jim Beam Stillhouse (really the gift shop) was pretty damn cool, too! The gift shop has just about everything you can think of with the Jim Beam logo on it.
The tour ($10) was very interesting and a lot of fun. I even got to bottle my own bottle of Jim Beam Single Barrel (pictured above and set me back $40). The tour ended with each person getting 2 samples of any type of Jim Beam product they wanted to try. You’re given a card (kinda like a debit card) that you place into the machine for the bourbon of your choosing and it will dispense out the proper amount. Thad found an extra card with a “drink” left on it so between the 3 of use we sampled 7 different bourbons. You also got to keep your Jim Beam sampling glass. Oh and if you have the chance, grab lunch at Fred’s Smokehouse…pretty good barbeque.
Next we rode north to Louisville. If you’ve been riding motorcycles very long you’ve probably heard of Motorcycle Superstore. Well, Louisville is the home of their Kentucky Retail Outlet. The store, while easy enough to find, is located in an industrial park. They have a “store area” but you can also hop on one of the available computers to pull up the part number of whatever you need and they’ll grab it out of the warehouse for you. Thad, who up until this point had all of this belongings in the backpack bungied to back of his seat, picked himself up a tank bag. (I was glad he got a tank bag because he was beginning to steal storage space on my bike).
We left Louisville and took I64E all the way to Huntington, WV for the night. When we parked the bikes at the Holiday Inn in Huntington we were up to 848 miles on our trip so far.
My buddy, Chuck met us across the street at the Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe for dinner. I could write an entire blog entry on the state of Chuck’s minivan but I’ll instead just say, I appreciated him giving us a ride around town.
Being a Marshall University grad we swung by the Joan before leaving the downtown area for a quick photo op. While it’s only my opinion, you can’t leave that area of the country without stopping for breakfast at Tudor’s Biscuit World. After a quick bite to eat we took I64E to Charleston, WV before getting off on to Rt. 60E. We had a great ride through the mountains that morning with great weather and a 7 mile stretch of twisties.
None of us had ever been to the New River Gorge observation area so we took a slight detour to check it out. I have to say, it was definitely worth the stop.
As we were still heading west, Kristen told Thad and I to look ahead at the blimp (We all have Sena SMH-10 headsets installed on our helmets). I looked up but didn’t see a thing at first. I then saw what she was talking about; the MetLife blimp was tied down in the field ahead of us!!
The Greenbrier Classic PGA Golf tournament was going on about 20 miles up the road that day. After lunch we saw the blimp hovering over top of the golf course as we passed.
Once we arrived home that evening, we’d ridden a total of 1225 miles over the 3 day trip. We had fun, made some memories, but most importantly arrived home safely…some of us more tired than others…