Rock the Crater Ride takes next step

Published 11:52 am Thursday, August 10, 2023


Last weekend’s seventh annual Rock the Crater Ride was the first ride as part of The Kentucky Cycling Challenge. Being a part of this challenge increases the tourism opportunities for the event, and allowed hundreds of bicycle enthusiasts and tourists to experience southeastern Kentucky.

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The event is a fundraiser for First Priority, a non-profit connecting students and local churches. The ride started with a block party at 4 p.m. on Friday at the Middlesboro City parking lot, featuring live music, food trucks, and vendors. The Pinnacle Challenge began that evening at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park visitor center, and the post ride in Virginia was canceled due to heavy rain.

“We had 180 riders from all across the country. It was a great fundraising event for First Priority Tri-States. We won’t have a total raised till everything comes in. It was a noticeable boost for our local economy bringing close to 200 families to town. They stayed in our hotels, ate at our restaurants, and shopped in our stores. We want to thank everyone who sponsored, volunteered and rode in Rock the Crater 2023. We would love to see our community get more involved in the ride going forward,” said Emery Minton, director of First Priority and Rock the Crater Ride organizer.

“It is also one of only five rides in Kentucky that make up the Kentucky cycling challenge. We had four routes from 21 miles, 40 miles, 58 miles and our 100 miles.”

The Kentucky Cycling Challenge provides an opportunity for registered participants to complete five century rides or metric century rides to earn a free Kentucky Cycling Challenge jersey, shorts or bibs.

The ride began and ran all the way through downtown Middlesboro before journeying to the backroads through the scenic hills and hollows of eastern Kentucky with minimal traffic. Many of the trails run beside tree-lined creeks, offering shade along the way. Rock The Crater has four different routes to accommodate everyone from a beginner to an avid cyclist with distances of 21 miles, 40 miles, 58 miles and a full century.

All of the routes run through part of the Historical Cumberland Gap National Park. The pre-ride, which was Friday in Tennessee, and Rock The Crater Ride on Saturday in Kentucky. Usually, the Rock the Crater ride gives riders the unique opportunity to ride the tri-states” to experience its rich history, sightseeing, hiking, cycling, and some of the best views in the area.