Did you know that Warren, Ohio is home to a half-scale replica of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module? One thing I love about a ride through the countryside are the small attractions you pass along the side of the road.
This Warren, Ohio park marks the area where six-year-old Neil Armstrong took his first airplane flight. In July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module landed on the moon with Astronaut Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the moon.
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!?
I took advantage of the warm weather in May for a mid-week motorcycle adventure. Like most motorcycle adventures, I did not plan ahead a specific itinerary. I simply pointed my 1978 Kawasaki KZ650 motorcycle in a general direction and went where the roads would take me.
I knew that I wanted to make use of the southern Ohio roads again on this trip, but also knew that I needed some new tires for my vintage ride. I stopped at Shop Dog Cycles in Hilliard, Ohio to get a new set of Spitfire S11 sport touring tires put on. Shop Dog Cycles is a one-man affair, but owner Ryan puts great care in his work. An older bike like mine meant more work to pull 34 year old tech apart, but Ryan did so with patience and professionalism. I have to say, the back country riding with those new tires was certainly smoother.
While in Hilliard, I encountered one of their sets of double roundabouts. The road signs for the roundabouts look like a mess of circular arrows, but once you’re in the middle of it all, it makes sense. The roundabouts make for an interesting alternative to the normal intersection with stop lights. While they require more work on the driver’s part, I think the extra attention required works to make the affair safer. Traffic constantly flows, versus the stop and go of a light, which is welcome as well.
Leaving the Columbus area, I took off to the back country roads of southern Ohio. I hit most of the more famous roads here, like Route 555, 78 and 26. Route 26 feels like a roller coaster, with plenty of tight and sweeping turns, hills and spectacular views. Route 78 has plenty of twists as well, but I always find myself stopping at points just to take in the view when you get to the top of one of the hills and can see miles of rolling Ohio in all directions.
One particular stop I did want to make on this trip was the Sisterville Ferry. This ferry shuttles cars across the Ohio river between Fly, Ohio and Sisterville, West Virginia. I crossed the border into West Virginia so that I could take the ferry back into Ohio. There’s something magically adventurous about crossing a river on a ferry with a motorcycle, and as soon as I heard about the ferry, I had to make the detour. Although a short trip across the river, it was absolutely worth it, if only for the view in the middle. The ferry crosses as one of the longer straight sections of the river, giving you a view down the river in both directions for miles.
As the sun started to set, and the clouds began to darken, I made my last stop at the historic Lafayette Hotel in downtown Marietta, Ohio. The hotel sits next to the Ohio river and offers many spectacular views from the rooms. The rooms themselves are like a time capsule from the 1940s with their furniture. Definitely a must stay if you’re in the area.
The next morning, I took the straight shot home up highway 77 north. It was another great trip, and I am glad I was able to take the time to experience it. I can’t wait for the next adventure!
Having a day off prompted me to go on an extended ride today. I ended up nearly two hours away from home, in some really great farm country on the back roads of Ohio.
It was amazingly relaxing, but I also had some excitement when my clutch cable broke while on a country highway outside of Akron. Fortunately, the bike behaved itself, and a few miles up the road I happened across All Seasons Sport Center.
The two guys there were pretty cool, and while they didn’t have a cable specifically made for my ancient bike, we found a shorter one that could be routed across the outside to get everything working again.
When you have two wheels, there’s always an adventure to be had.
I’ve often seen the large blue shape of the Pymatuning Reservoir on Google Maps, so it made for a decent destination for today’s road trip on my scooter. The ride out was nice, with plenty of country highway to make getting there by scooter possible, even if it meant going 5 mph under the speed limit. That was fine, because it was my day off, and I didn’t really need to be anywhere at any particular time.
It also made for a chance to make use of the small scooter saddlebags I had just received from Scooter Logic. They actually kept the cold water bottles I brought along decently cool, along with some other gear I wanted more easily accessible for the extended ride.
The total ride time was close to 4 hours over the 105 miles, with roughly 2 and a half hours of ride time, plus pit stops and sight-seeing.