Shamrock Tour® - Paducah, Kentucky

Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

"Paducah?" My friends at our neighborhood bar ask. "Paducah!?" Maybe they just like saying it - but, yes, having accepted an invitation to visit their Summer Festival, the HOG - Rally, and to ride the regional roads, I'm bound for Paducah.

The Ohio River Road
Two weeks later I'm sitting on Christa's apple-green Speed Triple, heading for this little town in Western Kentucky, an 11-hour drive of 638 miles. Over breakfast the next morning in the Executive Inn, I chart my first tour which crosses into south-east Illinois, through Massac, Pope, and Johnson counties.

It didn't take long, upon venturing forth to saddle up, for me to reach for my bandana and start mopping the sweat from my forehead. Swamp-like humidity and swelter (97 degrees) can be uncomfortable for riders, but it's not much of a problem with the right gear. I came prepared with the perfect stuff, and the wind blowing through my new Kobe Dragon mesh jacket cooled me quite nicely after a couple of miles.

My first driving challenge is the steel-decked bridge over the Ohio River. This one-mile span serves up a hearty test for riding skill and nerves. In Brookport, I breathe more easily, having survived a hell of a ride. I don't recommend this crossing for beginners; they should use I-24. Taking a left on Unionville Road in Brookport, I'm in the countryside two blocks later and from there it's a simple matter of following the signs of The Ohio River Scenic Route on the way to Elisabethtown. The black asphalt smoothly snakes along the Ohio River and winds 188 miles through Illinois. I stop for a moment in Bay City because it looks so familiar, but that flash of déjà vu passes once it finally occurs to me that it served as the location for the movie U.S. Marshals.

On the road to Golconda, a shocking rush of adrenaline courses through me as I'm speeding around a bend in a series of sweepers when a deer jumps into my path from a cornfield. A hard "stoppy" results, virtually producing a Triple handstand. After the rear tire drops down, I sling her a few times to get into the right position again and feel obligated to take my second agitation-relieving breather of the day in the nearest Golconda coffee shop. My knees were shaking and soft as pulled taffy.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the Winter 2002 back issue.