The Parklands

A Lesson in Gliding: A Bike Ride Through Beckley Creek Park

You know that Geico commercial where the pig is flying down the zip line squealing “Weeeeeee!”? Well that’s 7-year-old Boy Wonder as he glides downhill and around a sharp curve on mile 74 of Louisville Loop. He just learned to ride his bike without training wheels about a month ago and as I demonstrated “proper technique” on my own bike, he asked, “Mommy, how do you glide like that?” Boy Wonder is gliding now.

On a Thursday evening in early autumn, we entered Beckley Creek Park through the Beckley Creek Parkway entrance off Shelbyville Road and parked at the first parking lot by one of the Parklands’ trademark yellow silos. It was a beautiful evening, and mild, and the park was abuzz with walkers and fishermen and cross country runners and, of course, bikers. This may sound cheesy but there’s this palpable sense of friendliness and happiness in the people you cross paths with at The Parklands. I noticed it the first time I visited and have been met the same way on each subsequent visit. It’s almost as if people are carrying around this sense of awe and gratitude that we get to enjoy all this. If you don’t believe me go visit yourself and see if you count more smiling faces and friendly acknowledgements than you’ve encountered in all the hours before your visit.

I only recently got back on a bike after years and years so that I could ride around with Boy Wonder. I forgot how thrilling it could be, traveling long distances with ease, dodging people in your path, and “gliding” as an energizing breeze brushes against your face. We started at mile 74, where the 100-mile planned Louisville Loop will meet it one day, and we definitely chose the more forgiving path as it is almost completely downhill in the beginning. It’s so much fun you almost forget that you will eventually have to ride back up that hill.

After the exhilarating ride down, the Loop follows the perimeter of a neatly manicured meadow and then disappears into a wooded paved path that follows alongside the creek.  My sister and I admired the politeness with which Boy Wonder rode his bike as he screamed “Excuse me!” giving the groups of high school runners mere seconds to move out of his way as he went wobbling past them. The wooded path starts uphill and opens up beside the water treatment plant. I observed the red glean on the wooded ridge above the treatment plant as we waited for Boy Wonder to walk his bike up the hill. We then proceeded across a bridge and under the I-64 overpass before pausing at the edge of Egg Lawn where Boy Wonder proudly announced that he was in first place and Mommy was in last place.

The ride along the edge of Egg Lawn was flat until we crossed another bridge to continue our journey along the creek and past meadows and sunflower fields until heading back. Boy Wonder could have rode and rode but he at last admitted defeat when we reached the same hill where our journey began. This time my sister and I joined him and we all walked our bikes back up the hill that was now so unforgiving, taking short stabs back on the bike until we reached the summit. At the top Boy Wonder declared that now riding his bike was his favorite thing to do.

“Aren’t you glad you didn’t give up when you didn’t get it at first,” I asked.

“Yep because now I’m like an expert,” he boldly stated.

A very humble expert, I silently agreed.

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