Long shadows across an empty country road...
The soft hiss of bicycle tires on blacktop...
It can't get much better than that for a small but dedicated group of bike riders who call Grayson County home.
Although they like having the road essentially to themselves, they can't quite understand why they do have it. To the Grayson County bikers, the joy of riding in the open on two wheels is something they are torn between wanting to share and wanting to keep. The sport may be the county's best kept secret.
Several years ago the Grayson County Tourism Commission asked the University Group, LTD, to do a study of the area and offer recommendations for tourism development.
During the course of their research they came up with an interesting opportunity for the Tourism Commission to consider.
In their report they suggested that the commission ought to consider trying to establish Grayson County as "The bicycling activity center in Kentucky."
"Bicycling is a large and growing sport," the report said, "that fits well with both the tourist profile and demographic trends." The report went on to say, "further, Grayson County could 'own' this position since no other part of Kentucky has established this position, and many areas in other states have been successful in building a substantial tourist business based on cycling."
According to the report, there are factors in Grayson County that are favorable to building a large bicycling tourist business.
These factors include:
If this proposal one day became a reality it would suit Rick and Joyce Embry, owners of Embry's Bike Shop, just fine.
They would love to see more people in Grayson County take up biking, and they have several reasons for this, none of which include promoting their own business.
"We are not just trying to sell bikes and promote our business, we are simply trying to get people to ride, and in the process, promote a lifestyle.
"We all need exercise, and biking is a great way to get healthy and stay healthy," Rick said.
In an attempt to make the community more aware of cycling and its benefits Rick and Joyce want people to know why biking is such a great activity.
"You have the opportunity to be outside, which allows you to see and experience many beautiful places," Rick suggested.
"There is also a social dimension to cycling that you often don't find in other types of sports or aerobic activities. As one is riding his or her bike along the trails or roadways there is the opportunity for conversation."
Rick says that in addition to its mental and psychological benefits (time to think and clear your head) biking can also be easier on your body than a typical stationary exercise.
He said that with stationary exercises, such as running or an exercise machine, the body has to deal with more impact.
Also, on an exercise machine, you don't really go anywhere and the "view never changes."
"With biking," Rick mentions, you have the benefit of being outdoors and you have the opportunity to enjoy different scenery."
For the first time in almost 30 years adult bikes are now outselling children's bikes, which means that bicycling is not just a "kid thing" anymore.
With a lot more adults taking an interest in biking the Embry's are seeing a trend that they would also like to see catch on here in the county.
Grayson County does have its own bicycle route. However, it has variations (marked by an L or an S) which can make your ride longer or shorter, depending on your personal preference, endurance, and ability.
According to Rick, the route begins at Lush Monuments and winds its way through Grayson County--marked by white arrows along the roadway.
These white markings are called Dan Henry's.
The primary purpose of a Dan Henry, Rick said, is to define a bike route and instruct riders which way to go.
"A person could potentially ride for 5o miles if he or she were so inclined," Rick said.
For their part, the Tourism Commission gives Rick and Joyce's bicycling group (The Grayson County Adventure Club) $500 per fiscal year for cycling events. However, the focus has to be bringing people in from outside the county.
In addition to the money, the Tourism Commission also prints their brochures.
In their report, the University Group gave the Tourism Commission several suggestions for capitalizing on the bicycling opportunity (if the commission felt that it was a potentially good idea) here in Grayson County.
Their recommendations included:
The report said that if the county saw this as a viable plan it would probably take three to five years to develop and implement a "biking position."
The report concluded, "but once developed it could be a very large and long-term tourism builder."
In the meantime, the Embry's would love to see the people of Grayson County take greater advantage of the existing bike route. And even if people choose not to ride the route, they still want people to give more serious consideration to the benefits and joys of biking.
According to Rick,"we are just trying to convince people to get out there and ride bikes, even if it is just to work." He would like to encourage everyone to "get those old bikes out of the garage, dust them off, and ride them."
For more information on biking opportunities in Grayson County or the Grayson County Adventure Club you can call Rick or Joyce Embry at Embry's Bike Shop in Leitchfield at (270) 259-3900.