The Best of Both

Sep 11, 2012 View Comments by

Have you ever had one of those “perfect” days on a bike…one that you’ll remember for years? My wife Sharon and I had one last weekend when we joined some friends, John and Martha, for a mix of possibly the best dirt and paved roads that Ohio has to offer.

We started things off by pointing our 650 V-Stroms toward Marietta, taking some scenic warm-up tarmac, routes 284 and 83 from Zanesville to route 60 into Marietta. A stop there included a photo session of the American Queen paddlewheel, which was docked there for the day. A stop at a local coffee shop for some “vitamin C” and a pastry followed before we headed for two of my favorites; route 26 and 260, which lead us to the Ohio river.

We’re soon eating lunch at another favorite, Marv’s Place in Sardis. The weather is perfect for riding, and the low -eighties temperature is a welcome break from the sizzling heat wave that most of the country has dealt with for weeks. Leaving Marv’s, we head for route 800, and we’re just getting into the rhythm of alternating hairpin turns when John signals a left turn onto a gravel road.

John, like myself, is equally at home on both paved and gravel roads, and he’s been wanting to show me what he feels are some of the best backroads in the state for over a year now. We ride for miles under a canopy of tree branches, turning onto increasingly more remote roads until we’re on little more than double-track paths through the woods, complete with foot-high grass in the middle and protrusions of exposed rock on the uphill sections.

We stop at a campground where John saw bear scat during his last camping trip before the sun’s position in the sky reminds us that we’d best head for home. Back on pavement again, I find myself on several excellent new roads; a reminder that over three decades of riding hasn’t been enough to fully explore all that southeastern Ohio has to offer a rider.

We stop for a fill-up and cold drink at a rural two-pump-and-a-store roadside business and reflect on how much fun we’ve had. It’s the first time that I’ve actually been physically and mentally drained from riding in quite a while, but I’d probably have done it all over again had the remaining daylight allowed. John mentioned several times that one could easily ride new roads for a week in that area, and I’m anxious to do some more exploring. So little time, so much riding to do…will someone please explain to me why I have to work one more time?

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