Backroads and Buggy Tracks

May 18, 2016 View Comments by

Try as we might, the “grass is greener somewhere else” syndrome is hard to shake, and we often overlook some very interesting local attractions while focusing on distant destinations. Such was the case for me with Ohio’s rural Amish community centered in the Millersburg area. Although we had visited Millersburg and some of the surrounding towns often while riding, we usually got there via a couple of scenic two-lane paved roads, namely state routes 60 and 83. The towns are worthy destinations, but summertime tourist traffic congestion is often overwhelming, and we began avoiding the area due to the traffic on both the roads and sidewalks.

Back Roads and Buggy TracksI found myself on the edge of Amish country one fall afternoon while riding on a dirt road, and my wife, Sharon, and I have been hooked ever since. We still regularly head to Millersburg or Sugarcreek for lunch or a coffee break, but we now seek out the most remote and scenic dirt roads in the area, catching a glimpse of the “real” Amish community along the way.

Usual scenes include men working the fields with horse-drawn farm implements, women hanging the week’s laundry on clotheslines next to sprawling white farmhouses, and children in small carriages being pulled down quiet lanes by ponies. Roads are crisscrossed with buggy tracks, and I’m certain that motorized transportation is the minority of traffic on many of the roads.

Our intrusion into their world is done respectfully, as we ride slowly, stop to allow buggies coming the other direction to pass without spooking the horses, and resist the urge to take pictures of the Amish, at least from the front. I’m sure there are exceptions, but it’s common knowledge that they don’t like being the subject of photographs, and a shot from behind a buggy captures the essence of the scene without offending anyone.

Those wishing to have a unique riding experience should turn their dual sport or adventure bikes off the pavement and see where the buggy tracks lead, especially if it’s only an hour from home as it is for me. What unusual riding opportunities are near you?

Backroads

Text and photography: Steve Mauk
Originally published: June 18, 2014

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Tags: Categories: Outside the Lines