Unexpected Fun: My End of May Rides

After a couple successful outings on my Yamaha FJR1300 during Memorial Day weekend, I decided to try out a couple loop routes the next weekend that I had created on Google Maps . The routes included some roads I had ridden before — though that was five or more years ago — but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun a couple state highways I rode were. They didn’t look like they would be especially exciting on Google Maps, but it turns out (no pun intended) that there is more to a road than how curvy it looks on a mapping website.

Saturday 20200530

Saturday, May 30

My first loop of the weekend was supposed to be the less interesting of the two. It turned out to be a blast. 

From my home on the Far East Side of Columbus, I took Interstate 270 to Interstate 71 to Exit 173 (State Route 39). I’d been a passenger in a car on this route before, but had not ridden it. So, I got off at an exit I usually just drive or ride past on my way to Cleveland or upstate New York, turned right and headed east. Though Route 39 looks like a lot of fun east of Interstate 77, Google Maps made this section of it look like a collection of gentle sweepers at the foot of Ohio’s unglaciated terrain. But, as I learned, looks can be deceiving. 

Almost from the start it was tight to loose sweepers with plenty of elevation change from the interchange with Interstate 71 on the southeast side of Mansfield all the way through Perrysville, Loudonville and Nashville to the route’s junction with State Route 60. 

Now, Route 60 looked a little more exciting on Google Maps, and it did not disappoint. I turned right off of Route 39 to take Route 60 south to the interchange with the State Route 16 expressway.

Though I’ve ridden more technical roads, this one will keep someone who likes getting their bike leaned over quite happy. The road is a mix of sweepers and tight stuff with plenty of elevation change in the middle of corners. It was fun being able to navigate the point-and-shoot slow corners with pronounced dips in the middle of them. 

Though I could have gone farther on Route 60, that would have meant negotiating Zanesville traffic to get to Interstate 70 to head home. Instead, I got on Route 16 west and was able to zip home before it started getting dark.

Sunday 20200531

Sunday, May 31

This was supposed to be the better of the two rides. Both state highways on the loop delivered as expected, but the unexpected fun I had had the day before seemed to diminish my enjoyment of U.S. Route 62 and State Route 93.

I started out my ride heading east on the Route 16 expressway to its junction with State Route 13 in Newark. I then headed north on Route 13, which parallels what appears to be a shortline railroad to Utica, where I took a right and began riding north on U.S. Route 62. While the curves in the highway are more gentle than I remember, the route offers lots of scenic views of the rolling, unglaciated central-east Ohio landscape.

I stayed on Route 62 through Martinsburg, Danville, Killbuck, Millersburg and Berlin to its intersection with State Route 93 northeast of Wilmot. I took the hairpin-like right turn to head south on Route 93. 

As I rode through Sugarcreek (home of Ohio’s Little Switzerland), I took a short ride west on Route 39 to check out the construction at the Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market. The market is one of the coolest places I’ve visited in Ohio and offered a variety of second-hand and hand-made goods that really impressed me. Unfortunately, the market suffered a fire last year that destroyed about half of the building. A reconstruction of the building has been in progress and the rebuilt section looks to be nearly complete. 

I then headed east back to Route 93 and continued my journey south. The remainder of Route 93 was a fun ride, but the pavement was covered with tar snakes in lots of spots and I didn’t find it to be as technical as Routes 39 and 60. I stayed on Route 93 through Fresno, West Lafayette, Plainfield and Adamsville before hopping on Interstate 70 to head home.

While the section of Route 93 from north of Sugarcreek to Interstate 70 is good, there’s plenty more of the route for me to explore, as it continues south to the Ohio River in Ironton, Ohio.

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