story and photography by Jeff Morgan
[Best of Ohio Motorcycle Rides originally appeared as a Favorite Ride in the November 2007 issue of Rider magazine]
Most people don’t realize that Ohio motorcycle rides offer some of the most scenic and exciting motorcycle routes in the country. I made this discovery in 1995 when I bought my first street bike. I was ready to join my dad and grandfather on their weekly ride. For more than 30 years it’s been the one opportunity each week to escape commitments and responsibilities. Growing up I always wondered where my father was zooming off to every Sunday morning on that steel horse. Before he left the house he always looked excited and anxious, like a kid on Christmas morning. They were serious riders, too, with lots of twists and turns to conquer on their weekly adventure. I simply wasn’t prepared for the sense of excitement and freedom I was about to discover, and from that first ride with them I was hooked.
Over the last decade I have had the pleasure of learning many great routes from my dad and grandfather. It inspired me to create several Ohio Ride Guide DVDs so others can discover these great rides, delicious restaurants, beautiful scenic locations, and potential obstacles to avoid. I even started a website called the www.ohiorideguide.com, which is dedicated to promoting motorcycling and the discovery of great rides in Ohio. I was lucky enough to have my dad and grandfather pass this knowledge onto me, and I wanted to share it with others. I thought of it as the family secret recipe that anyone with a bike and a sense of adventure deserved to know.
One of the first great rides I discovered starts just outside Massillon, Ohio, on Route 93. This is one fantastic ride that consists of lots of wide, sweeping turns going up and down beautiful rolling hills. For the first 20 miles you are surrounded by woods, farmland, open fields and a few homes. This section of 93 delivers exciting twisties that will get your adrenaline racing. Overall Route 93 does not get a lot of traffic, so you can really get into the ride without having to worry about cars jamming up the road. Another benefit to 93 is the road is usually in very good condition, with smooth pavement and no real gravel to worry about.
The first “big” town you hit is Sugarcreek. This is a very unique community that has a Swiss, German and Amish heritage and is known as the Little Switzerland of Ohio. Check out the Swiss Village in the downtown district, which has many shops and restaurants that are designed just like Swiss chalets and lodges. One of my favorite restaurants in Sugarcreek is Dutch Valley located off Route 39. To get there take 39E off Route 93 for about 5 miles. It’s an Amish restaurant serving some of the best homecooked meals and pies in the state.
From Sugarcreek stay on 93 south and the ride continues to get better, delivering great, wide, sweeping and sharp turns while passing by beautiful Amish farmland. As you continue south you get deeper into Amish country, so stay alert for buggies and road apples. These are usually about the size of a baseball and can look dried out, but if you hit one of these little horse treats it can be like riding over a banana peel. You can come up on buggies pretty quickly, too, particularly when cresting hills. They are supposed to have an orange hazard sign on the back, though I have seen many of them that don’t.
The next city you hit after another 20 miles is Coshocton. I recommend stopping here and taking a break at Roscoe Village. This was once a port on the Ohio and Erie canal that has now been transformed into a village from the 1800s, with distinctive shops, festivals and great restaurants. One of my favorites is the Old Warehouse Restaurant. To get there take 36 west off 93 for about 6 miles and you will see it on the right, just before the Route 541 exit.
From Coshocton jump on Route 541 west for about 11 miles. This is an awesome stretch of road starting off with wide, sweeping turns and some tight twisties over steep hills. Then you come to what I call the “straightaway,” a straight section on 541 out in the middle of nowhere that is several miles long and surrounded by open fields reminiscent of the plains of Texas. The road is usually in great condition with little or no gravel.
After conquering the straightaway on 541 take Route 60 north. For the next 25 miles it delivers beautiful scenic views of Ohio’s farmland and lush woods. When riding Route 60 stay alert for gravel in some of the tighter turns, and if you are riding 60 in the spring, sections of the road can flood and even wash away after heavy rains. Be wary exiting blind turns and such after it’s been wet.
To wrap up this great ride, pick up Route 62 east toward Millersburg off 60. You will ride this for about 6 miles. From Route 62 take 241 north. This section of Route 241 really shows off Ohio’s rolling hills and Amish farmlands. For the next 20 miles you will pass through a heavily populated Amish area, so watch out for buggies and road apples as you make your way home.
If you are interested in learning more about the great rides in Ohio check out the Ohio Ride Guide at www.ohiorideguide.com.