By Magen McCrarey
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The first-ever Halloween themed Thriller Ride begins this Saturday, Oct. 13 with cycling routes for the entire family. The ride, hosted by the Cumberland Valley Cycling Club, will begin with registration at 8 a.m. at the corner of Ninth and Main streets in downtown London, and the ride will begin at 9 a.m.
The Cumberland Valley Cycling Club started just six months ago with about 25 members and it continues to grow. The club blossomed out of the Redbud Ride, which takes place every April, and they created the Thriller Ride to fill in the seasonal cycling gap.
Rodney Hendrickson, co-executive director of the London-Laurel County Tourist Commission, described the Thriller Ride as the shorter, sister version of the spring Redbud Ride. The three routes include the featured hilly metric century ride, The Thriller; the 44.5 mile Zombie route of rolling hills that may leave gutsy cyclists literally feeling like the living dead; and The Halloweenie, a 12.5 mile route that meanders across London.
All three routes travel through Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park, which is expected to exhibit elaborate Halloween displays set up by campers. All participants are encouraged to compete in a costume contest to win a free night's stay at Hampton Inn and a dinner for two.
Mike Trosper, one of the founders of the local cycling group, will take on the 63-mile Thriller route to catch a glimpse of the countryside he said he'd probably never see if he was in a car.
"Especially this time of year, the leaves and hillsides are beautiful," he said.
Trosper has been cycling for three years and is a two-year veteran of the Redbud Ride. The club rides have offered not only scenic views but also safety. He said riding in a group is always safer than riding alone.
"In a group, you get a lot more respect from drivers," he said. "With cycling growing in the area, the community is coming to recognize us and respecting that we are a part of the road."
Like Trosper, cyclist Rick Allen began for health benefits — a pursuit that he said has paid off in pounds lost.
Allen started cycling 12 years ago and has ridden in every Redbud Ride since it began five years ago. He looks forward to the new fall ride, even with apparent cooler weather.
"The cold doesn't bother you as long as you are wearing proper gear," he said as he bundled up for a practice ride Monday with the local cycling group. Saturday's temperatures are expected to be 20 degrees warmer than it was on Monday.
Saturday's weather calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high of 78 degrees.
Currently, there are 126 cyclists registered for the event with up to 250 expected to show Saturday.
The ride's registration fee is $25, which includes a T-shirt as supplies last. All profits made by the Thriller Ride will directly benefit the intent of making Laurel County a cycling destination — which is already becoming a reality, Hendrickson said.
Sponsors of the ride include Napier & Associates P.S.C.; Pepperhill Dental; Dr. David Douglas; Dr. Anne Douglas; Jim & Paige Daly's Mortuary; L&N Federal Credit Union; London-Laurel Tourist Commission; Southern Petroleum Inc.; Gary Hudson, Attorney at Law; Shiloh Roadhouse; Allegra Print and Imaging; Mike's Hike & Bike; Chamois Butt'r; Sustainable Harvest Farm; and Flowers Foods of London LLC.
For more information, visit cvcc-ky.org/Thriller_Ride.html or visit the Cumberland Valley Cycling Club on Facebook.
Editor Carrie Dillard contributed to this story.