As the official home base of Ohio’s Windy 9, Athens marks the beginning and end of every route on the list. It’s sizeable enough to offer plenty of lodgings, and urban enough to serve up the region’s largest collection of dining, shopping, and nightlife options. During our stay we took advantage of its great local restaurants and breweries. Athens says it’s a little eccentric, and we agree. But unlike other growing cities known for being creative, in Athens’ case it seems genuine. At the end of a full day’s ride, we felt lucky to come back to a city almost as exciting as the surrounding roads. During this past fall, we explored four of the nine routes, leaving ourselves plenty of excuses to return next year.