Not long ago the idea of a dual-sport Shamrock Tour took root when Steve Mauk, a long-time off-road rider, ignited my imagination with tales of scenic gravel roads and trails winding through the overarching canopies of hardwood forests in his native Eastern Ohio. We collaborated on choosing a home base for this shamrock (Coshocton, Ohio) and the riding areas, and we scheduled the trip for mid-June when the roads would be dried out from spring rains and all of the plant life would be in full bloom.
GPS Coordinates Map: Download Coshocton GPS Tour File
The Plain People
Day 1: NE Quadrant
Eastern Ohio is well known among many motorcyclists for its challenging two-lane tarmac, but fewer people know that the Buckeye State also is a great dual-sport destination. Coshocton, Ohio, our home base, lies nestled in the rugged foothills west of the Appalachian Mountains.
On Tuesday morning, we fire up the five bikes and head out. I'm riding my orange KTM 450 EXC; Christa is trying out my red Kawasaki KLR 650; Manuel is piloting the BMW 650 XCountry; Florian is rarin' to make tracks on the red Honda XR 650L; and Steve leads the way on his Suzuki DR 350. Cool temperatures and an overcast sky greet our journey into Ohio's Amish Country, northeast of Coshocton.
Gleaming white Amish houses and barns dot the rolling landscape. Instead of cars on the serpentine gravel roads, black, horse-drawn buggies are the primary form of conveyance for this Protestant religious sect that has forsaken most modern-day conveniences. (Be careful not to spook the horse when you pass an Amish buggy.) Even buttons are too ostentatious for The Plain People, who prefer to use pins or hooks to fasten their garments.
Arriving in Millersburg somewhat chilled, we break for coffee at Norman's Bakery & Deli, housed in a building that dates back to 1878. Looking out the large front windows with steaming coffee in hand, we gaze at numerous examples of classic, nineteenth-century Victorian architecture along a street scene that resembles Bedford Falls, in the film It's A Wonderful Life.
One of the best things about touring in Amish Country, is Amish home-style cooking. Miller's Dutch Kitchen in Baltic is one of many restaurants in Holmes County offering menu items of roast beef, mashed potatoes, noodles, chicken, ham, various types of gravies and other scrumptious delights. And after ingesting such a bountiful lunch some of us consider increasing the pre-load adjustment on our rear shocks.
The sun finally breaks through the clouds as we ply one unpaved back road after another, following burbling creeks that meander through heavily wooded terrain. Our motorized reverie continues for hours until finally the hotel comes into view around 7 p.m. There's just enough time for a quick shower before enjoying a marvelous meal at the Olde Warehouse Restaurant in Roscoe Village.