Another Day Cycling Through Lexington

Whiskey offerings at James E. Pepper Distillery. Author’s collection.

My sister and I embarked on what has become our annual tradition (2018 was our third annual) of cycling through  Lexington’s past and exploring new developments and changes to the landscape in the town we both call “home.”

Our 2018 trek was met with an early disruption as I discovered that my bike lock was still at my house and that going to retrieve it would delay our ride by an hour. After posting my predicament on Facebook, a friend quickly came to my aid. But the five minute drive there and back was punctuated by a quick drive through The Lexington Cemetery,, to see the monuments that had recently been relocated there from the courthouse lawn. I had supported the removal of the two Confederates from Lexington’s most premier public space to the cemetery, and the new locations for Hunt-Morgan and Breckinridge are fitting and proper. The monuments are much more accessible having been removed from their lofty pediments.

Looking up toward the dome of the Old Courthouse.
Author’s collection.

A bike lock in hand, we proceeded to our starting point (and what should certainly be the start of any Lexington tour): The Lexington Visitors Center, VisitLex recently reopened in the old Courthouse on West Main Street. Construction of the old courthouse began in 1898 and it served as the county courthouse for a century until new courthouses opened on North Limestone Street in 2002. It was thereafter occupied by a number of museums, most notably the Lexington History Museum,, but all tenants were forced to vacate in 2012 due to lead paint, asbestos, and other environmental factors. A two year, $32 million project brought the old Courthouse to its historic grandeur.

After the visitor’s center, we walked my bike down West Short Street to the nearest available Spin bike on North Mill. Spin,, introduced its bicycle rentals to Lexington just within the past few months and allow customers to rent bikes for $1 per half hour using a mobile app. My sister, in town for a week, had become an expert in Spin bikes and loved their comfort, affordability, and ease of use. They are certainly a win for Lexington and its bikeability.

We both mounted are bicycles and took off toward the Distillery District,, where much has changed since our 2017 tour. Most significantly, the James E. Pepper Distillery,, is now open for tours. Although our schedule didn’t permit a tour, we were welcomed into their visitors center where a large flag adorns the wall. The flag was found in California and returned to the distillery where it had been flown until the distillery shuttered in 1958. At one point, Pepper was the largest whiskey distillery in the United States. Today, it produces five whiskeys (3 ryes, 2 bourbons) which were fortunate enough to sample.

Our appetites whetted, my sister and I walked next door to the Goodfellas Pizza,, to enjoy their $6 lunch special: a huge slice of pie, a side (we each opted for a salad), and a drink (soda, tea, or a Narragansett Lager, Although it was by no means my first time at Goodfellas, it was hers and she is looking forward to returning.

Back down Manchester Street, we turned onto Oliver Lewis Way so that we could reach the next destination: Country Boy Brewing, It was another first visit for my sister; she and I have twice before reached their door only to find it closed due to my failure to first check operating hours. There is no pretension in this cinderblock building, only good beer. I had their Living Proof: Golden Wild Ale which was tangy and almost like a mild gose; very enjoyable. My sister, a fan of the pilsner, found their Survive to be on the money.

New student center at University of Kentucky. Author’s collection.

After leaving Country Boy, we maneuvered over to UK’s campus to sample some of the older landmarks like the Gillis Building, the Patterson Office Tower, and the statue of President Patterson. But the real reason for visiting my alma mater was to check out the new $200 million student center. Wow! Just wow. This was definitely not there when I was a student. The new two-story bookstore, operated by Barnes & Noble, is nothing but impressive (though it is remarkable how little space is actually committed to textbooks for a university having an enrollment of over 30,000). The old Alumni Gym has been preserved and repurposed as a student fitness center – it may well be the most beautiful, most well-appointed fitness centers in town.

A race down Euclid Avenue and a left onto Ashland Avenue unveiled one of Lexington’s newest bookstores: Brier Books, A great selection and an awesome staff. Further down Ashland Avenue, we entered Warehouse Block, My sister visited with a friend at Centered,, and we settled into another beer at Mirror Twin Brewing,, (we shared Bee Sting, a honey hefeweizen).

We began back toward North Limestone with a brief pitstop to see the bicycle-beer combo at Bicycle Face,, (a shop I will surely return to). It was a great day for a leisurely 8 mile ride punctuated by so many stops at local shops and watering holes. #sharethelex

A Day Journal: Lexington by Bike

For those that have followed this blog for some time, you know I think that Lexington is an amazing city. Whenever my sister comes to visit, I love taking her on a bike ride to show her what has changed in the city where we spent so many years growing up. So we did Lexington by bike.

We ventured recently on a 5-hour, 10.4 mile tour (no-destination-style at an ultra-leisurely pace) with just a couple of targets in mind: we wanted to enjoy a couple brews from stops on the Brewgrass Trail. I wanted to show her what’s going on in the Distillery District and we wanted to pass our old Kentucky home.

We pulled our bikes off the bike rack where we parked on North Limestone in front of LTMS. We passed the old the old Episcopal mission on Fourth Street before cutting through the campus of Transylvania University and beside Old Morrison.

Gratz Park until Second Street when my sister declared she wanted to pass her favorite house in Lexington, the Thomas January House.To Jefferson Street where, upon cresting the viaduct, I showed my sister how the Lexington Center would expand and the beautifully proposed Town Branch Park would overtake the area.

In, through, and past the Distillery District, we turned right onto Forbes Road and discussed the fire at the stockyards. Her mind raced as she considered the potential reuse for that 10 +/- acres.

Down Leestown Road and into the Lexington Cemetery where I told her the stories of King Solomon, of John Hunt Morgan, and of Henry Clay. As we left the cemetery and with five miles behind us, we began to think about that first beer. To Blue Stallion!

The Hefeweizen was the perfect beer on that hot day! We filled our waters and immediately embarked for pint #2 at West Sixth (and for a bite at Smithtown Seafood!) We journeyed down Smith and Willie Streets before taking in the rainbow colored shotguns on Bourbon Street – the highlight of what remains of historic Smithtown for which the seafood restaurant takes its name!


I, of course, gave her an update on the Old Courthouse as we passed it. Then to our old Kentucky Home in the Historic Western Suburb, the iconic mural of Abraham Lincoln by Eduardo Kobra, and the new Henry Clay mural on Vine Street.

We learned that East Second Street Christian Church is contemplating a new site (according to the “Future Home Of…” sign) before admiring their circa 1875 church building.

Brochures obtained from the Visitor’s Bureau

Another stop during the day was a new one for me: The Lexington Visitor’s Bureau which has relocated to The Square (formerly Victorian Square). If you are visiting Lexington for the first or fifty-first time, stop at the Visitor’s Bureau. You’ll discover something new!

Of course, isn’t that always the case with Lexington? We certainly did during our 10.4 mile ride. #sharethelex

A post shared by Peter Brackney (@kaintuckeean) on Jul 20, 2017 at 12:10pm PDT