After a few busy weekends, I finally had a free day to get some saddle time in on Oct. 25. The rather chilly few hours on the bike with two friends in tow featured some good times on fun, twisty southeast Ohio roads, as well as some experience riding in the cold for the least-seasoned member of the group.
My two friends who rode with me are Zach on his Triumph Tiger 800 and Paco on his Suzuki SFV650 (Gladius). Zach has worked as a motorcycle mechanic and has a bit of experience with riding. Paco just got back into riding this year after enduring a couple years without a bike.
The about 180-mile ride started on the Far East Side of Columbus, Ohio. It was chilly and overcast, with temperatures in the mid-40s to low-50s and on-and-off rain peppering the first half of the ride.
The group rode south on Interstate 270 to U.S. Route 23 south. When we got to Circleville, we took the exit for downtown Circleville and got on Ohio Route 56 east. After making our way down Circleville’s Main Street, we started our exploration of Route 56. The first third of Route 56 was somewhat rolling open terrain with the occasional scenic view as we approached the start of the unglaciated hills near Laurelville. The middle third of the ride was good pavement and a great mix of sweepers and sections of twisties. Though the road was wet, we had a blast carving our way through wooded land along Salt Creek and Queer Creek. The last third of the route — which leads to the southwest side of Athens — featured less aggressive curves but was still fun to ride.
After a lunch stop in Athens, the group headed northwest on U.S. Route 33 a short way to the exit for Ohio Route 13. Though it lacked the twisty sections of Route 56, the route delivered a consistent stream of tight and wide sweepers from Chauncey through Millfield, Glouster, Corning and Moxahala. The route flattened out a bit as we approached New Lexington. After a quick stop in New Lexington, we continued on Route 13 through the seemingly never-ending farmscape to Interstate 70 near the east bank of Buckeye Lake. We then took I-70 back to Columbus, which marked the conclusion of the ride.
Though the wet weather, damp roads and cool to cold temperatures weren’t ideal riding conditions, it was a fun ride for all three members of the group. Paco, though, didn’t have the greatest time with the cold temperatures. He did not have a windshield, heated grips or cold-weather riding gloves to combat the conditions. We extended our lunch stop — at the Wendy’s near Ohio University — to let Paco warm up a bit. By the end of the ride, Paco said he couldn’t feel his hands or toes and would be looking into getting some of cold weather riding aides that Zach and I had.
Paco also experienced a form of motorcycle wardrobe failure, as one of his bar-end mirrors decided it’d had enough of being attached to the Gladius and is now likely sitting in a ditch somewhere along Route 13.
The route was far from the most technical riding I’ve done. But, it’s fun and easily accessible from the Columbus region. I’d really like to take another crack at it in the spring with dry conditions and really up the fun factor on the Route 56 twisties.