Shamrock Tour® - Bardstown, Kentucky

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Chris Myers

In many places, life is governed by stressful, pell-mell routines. Rush-hour traffic, get it done yesterday, I need that on my desk by five - now move, move, move! No wonder there always seems to be an underlying need to escape. That's why many of us ride. Out there, somewhere down the road, maybe, just maybe, we'll find that special place where time streams more slowly from hidden springs.

Fields of corn, rye, barley, and wheat rise from the Kentucky soil. Throughout summer the crops mature and showers fall, trickling down to the water table. Along its way back to the surface, flowing through subterranean limestone formations, the stream is purified and stripped of bitter-tasting iron. To a master distiller in these parts, around the small city of Bards-town, this water, the grains, and time comprise the major ingredients that create many a tippler's drink of choice: bourbon whiskey.

Through an Act of Congress in 1964, Kentucky Bourbon was established as America's Official Native Spirit. With the exception of Scotch perhaps, there's probably no other distillate as inextricably linked to a particular locale. In no specific order, when one thinks of Kentucky, the mind turns up images of thoroughbreds, rippling bluegrass, and those amber libations poured from bottles bearing the names of Jim Beam, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, and other patient Kentucky gentlemen.

Day 1: Narrow Lanes

A beautiful September morning greets Florian Neuhauser, RoadRUNNER's Customer Service Manager, and me as we fire up our bikes (he's riding a Triumph Tiger and I, a Honda 599). We head out of Bardstown, generally meandering down a laid-back, warm-up route east. The tempo increases in pleasant curves once we turn south on Route 55, where the narrow two-lane begins to offer just enough challenge to keep us on our toes. In and out of trees, we sweep across low, rolling land planted with corn and tobacco. The early fall weather is just right for riding, and the farming scene soon changes to roads lined with tidy post-and-rail fences retaining beautiful, robust horses that lazily graze on the mineral-rich grass.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2007 back issue.