If you live in Northeast Ohio, you have to ride a bit to get to the more interesting roads. One of these would be Ohio State Route 164, which winds its way through 45 miles of twists, turns, hilltops and valleys.
The route starts in Leesville, Ohio, passing through the tiny countryside towns of Amsterdam, Bergholz, Salineville and finally ending in Lisbon, Ohio.
The road surface along the way varies from areas that were freshly paved a year or two ago, to areas that are still decent, but have some patching along the edges. Gravel isn’t a concern through most of the route, except for a few tricky curves where a gravel road empties onto the road near an apex.
The route has examples of every type of riding challenge you could want, from long sweepers to extremely tight corners with rapid camber changes. What really increases those challenges is the number of hilltops and blind curves that hide what’s coming next until you’re nearly on top of it.
For much of the ride, it almost becomes a repetitive game, where the smart rider rolls off the throttle near the top of the many hills, allowing them a small bit of time to see the next quarter-mile ahead and plan their lines accordingly. Then it’s down the hill like a roller-coaster, dodging and twisting until the peak of that next hill and a new layout.
Speeds vary from 25mph in the few small towns you’ll pass through to 45 and 55 mph areas. The surprises this road throws at you make it very important not to outrun your sight lines, and the yellow speed warning signs ahead of curves are actually good recommendations to follow for many. If you see a 25 or 15mph yellow sign ahead, SLOW DOWN! The curve is more likely to be a 90 degree corner.
However, don’t be surprised to see one of every type of bike on the road during peak time, including cruisers, sports bikes, tourers and adventure kits.
For riders looking to keep things safe, I would recommend starting from the Leesville side and going north to Lisbon, versus the other way around. Most of the more technical challenges tend to be close to Leesville, and the curve warning signs are often missing for the first 10 miles. Best to take that challenge while you’re fresh on the rider and save the mellower (and far better marked) part for later.
Along both sides of the road, you’ll encounter a number of family farms, complete with cows, horses and other livestock lazily watching the light road traffic pass by.
The many changes in elevation along the route will take you from being surrounded by trees on either side, to winding ridge tops that allow you to see the rolling countryside for miles.
While the countryside makes for a great view, it does mean there are few accommodations along the way. If you think you might need to stop for some water, food or just to use the restroom, do it as soon as you get the chance, don’t wait and hope for another change later in the route.
Also keep in mind that mobile phone coverage is spotty at best, and often completely non-existent. Pre-download map data if your smartphone GPS app of choice allows it. 45 miles may not seem like a lot, but there is a fair amount of time between those very (very) tiny little towns and traffic can be light along the route.
For those in the northeast Ohio area, Route 164 presents a great opportunity to get some twists, turns, swoops and dips into their lives within a (mostly) reasonable driving distance!?