Text: Florian Neuhauser • Photography: Florian Neuhauser, Steve Mauk
Roller coaster roads hugging the curves of the landscape like someone rolled out a ribbon of asphalt, cresting hills with merging side streets, off-camber curves left and right—yes, these are the roads of southeastern Ohio. The adrenaline always rides high on these roads, because it’s always a thrill finding out what lies just across that ridge. Will it go straight? How about a sharp left? Maybe even a subtle right? It doesn’t matter, because my heart is beating fast, and I’m ready for any curveball Ohio throws me.
The plan for the tour starts with a call to KTM. Only a couple of hours away in Amherst, just west of Cleveland, Tom has a 990 Supermoto R that is not ready to be auctioned off yet. I can help! Immediately I drive to KTM’s U.S. headquarters (or the Austrian Embassy as I call it) from Columbus to pick up my ride for the next few weeks. On my way back, I ponder where I can have the most fun on this motorcycle. The choice is obvious: southeastern Ohio. Mind-bending curves, check. No traffic, check. Deciduous trees showing off vibrant fall colors, check. Now I only need a second rider. I avoid touring alone for safety reasons, and it’s always more fun if you can share a ride. Fortunately for me, Steve resides in Zanesville, just an hour east. It doesn’t take long to convince him to join me on a three-day jaunt through his favorite riding area. The only stipulation, though, is he can’t take his V-Strom, and surely not his Monster. Instead, he has to ride the 2012 Gold Wing. After all, I need to stow my camera gear and luggage somewhere.
Zanesville to Athens
At first, the 990 SM R and the Wing seem like an odd pairing, but we are glad one of the bikes has a windshield, heated grips, and a heated seat. While Steve enjoys the heat and satellite radio, I’m taking 48 degrees and unusually strong winds head on. I grip the handlebar tightly to prevent the wind sweeping me off like a kite. Thinking ahead, as I always do (yeah, right!), I connect my Gerbing’s heated liner to keep my body at operating temperature.
Leaving Zanesville, State Route 555 takes us on a roller coaster of a ride. After the first couple of blind crests, I turn off the heated liner. My heart is beating faster, and I think I’m sweating a little, too. The nimble SM R throws me from one apex to the next. As much as I try to keep it smooth, the raw power jerks me back and forth. Occasionally, I feel the rear tire lose traction as I minidrift through a curve. But as hard as I ride, Steve is never far behind, and I rarely have to wait long. Of course, Steve is an excellent rider, but the Gold Wing is sprier than it looks.
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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2012 back issue.