Ken Rueter is the President and Chief Executive Officer of UCOR, an Amentum-led partnership with Jacobs, the Department of Energy’s clean up contractor for the Oak Ridge Reservation, and he has been an avid cyclist for at least 25 years.
Rueter guides and motivates more than 1,850 UCOR personnel in Oak Ridge as they undertake the largest environmental cleanup in DOE’s history. These men and women safely deliver DOE’s cleanup vision every day by protecting the environment and reducing risk, enabling national security and science mission growth, and making land available for economic development opportunities, historic preservation, and conservation.
The monumental success that has been achieved under his leadership has made Rueter a symbol of change and progress in our community, especially when it comes to land conservation. With his having lived in the Secret City now for nearly a decade, Oak Ridgers are well aware of Rueter’s positive influence on our region.
Just as they are also aware that his passion for environmental restoration and appreciation of the great outdoors, especially cycling, go hand in hand.
Want to know where to go cycling in Oak Ridge? Here’s the inside scoop from Rueter himself.
What about Oak Ridge makes it such a great place to cycle?
I think it’s the diversity of the natural assets within the boundaries of the city limits and how they connect into the region.
When you look at the different types of cycling and the opportunities that exist here, pretty much every facet of cycling that you may be interested in is available to you.
If you’re a hardcore mountain biker and you like downhill riding, you easily can go to Haw Ridge and have a multi-day experience out there.
If you are into this new phase of cycling called “gravel grinding” or gravel riding, we have over 30 miles of legacy gravel roads that have been turned over for use to the general public from the Department of Energy. You can experience that all here within the city limits.
If you like road riding, this is a very friendly city with regard to road cyclists.
There’s something for every type of cyclist here.
Whenever you’re out cycling, where do you go? And why do you like this place? For the natural beauty? For the adrenaline rush?
I like that area for the differing nature of the terrain that it has to offer. So if you want to ride and train mostly on pace and the longer rides, you’ve got sections that don’t require a lot of climbing. You can focus on cadence or sustainment.
But if you want to do climbing and tempo training along with that, you can get up on the ridge and then be able to take all of that aspect in. It’s very flexible.
For me, I could ride a solid 30 miles of gravel out there and have a wonderful day at it. Plus, I can take my grandkids out there because it’s very safe.
Where would you recommend beginners stop by?
I’ll break it down by cycling type.
If you’re a beginner mountain biker, a great place to go is the Dirt Lab in the Haw Ridge Skills Park. They’ve
got dozens of different skill features that you can work on, and there’s a flat dirt path there if you want to ride with no risk.
As you progress to skill levels that have you doing drops and jumps, there’s a series there built to the International Mountain Biking standard. There’s also the Pump Track which is wonderful for kids.
For the road riders, the Oak Ridge Turnpike to the Horizon Center is a great beginner location. It’s about seven to eight miles. You can park at the corner of the Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue in a gravel lot. The Turnpike has one of the most accommodating bike lanes that I have ever ridden on.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Oak Ridge that you like to go to after a long day outside?
That’s an easy one for me, The Kitchen at Crafter’s Brew, as they are very cyclist centric.
Order any one of their paninis. They’ve got some of the best paninis that I’ve ever had.
For me, it’s very rare if I’m out cycling, and if I then go get something to eat, that I don’t go to Crafter’s Brew and the Kitchen.