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Old 06-01-2010, 04:05 AM   #1
jbar28 OP
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Location: Dayton, Ohio
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SE Ohio twisty roads and scenes

I've been living in Dayton , Ohio, for the last 4 years but will be moving to Germany this July. I've been meaning to get over to ride 555 and 26, but just haven't done it. So this year two friends and I took Memorial Day Weekend and spent the last three days winding 800 miles through southeast Ohio, having an absolute blast. I've read lots of mixed reports on road conditions over there and I thought I would take a few minutes to share some info on roads that others might like to try.

After blasting over to Nelsonville, the interesting riding started on OH SR78. The first 8 miles or so are pretty urban, but after Glouster it gets good quickly. Good quality pavement, wide sweeping turns, and getting twistier as you go along. Just before Ringgold (intersection of 555) there is a great viewpoint from the top of a ridge. It's tempting to turn on 555, but we went on to McConnelsville to see the bucket from Big Muskie, the largest strip mine drag line ever built. I remember seeing it working when I was a kid.

Just after the Miner's Memorial park, we turned north on OH SR284, also known as Big Muskie Drive. It winds through land that was strip mined and has been reclaimed. The road surface is only OK in spots, very good in others, but it almost seems like the tried to make a nice sweeping, turning road. All the way up to OH SR 146 is fun, and almost no traffic.

From there we went to Zanesville to see the famous Y-bridge. We accidentally found Weasel Boy Brewery, and got a growler of their Stoat Stout to enjoy after riding 555.

OH SR 555 is probably to most well-known motorcycle road in the state, and it's worth riding. Going south from Zanesville, it starts kind of slowly. After 10 miles I was wondering what all the fuss is about. Then you cross 37 and the road starts to jump. Lots of nice elevation changes with a few curves thrown in.

After crossing OH SR78, the road turns into a snake. Get ready for lots of shifting. The road surface is even better, we only saw gravel in a few spots. This lasts until crossing 377 at Chesterhill. From there things calm down a bit, but are still fun. Certainly the middle stretch south of OH SR78 is the twisty, tasty bit.

After a nice night in Marietta and a few beers at the Marietta Brewing Co., we headed north on OH SR26. This is a wonderful road, winding through Wayne National Forest. The first 15 miles or so are through canyons of woods with totally blind curves, climbing up to more grasslands, where you can see around the curves a bit. Traffic was almost nonexistent on Sunday morning, but we did stop a few times to check out covered bridges and nice views. The raod is great all the way up to Woodsfield, which is a big enough town to have several gas stations. Gas can be a bit scarce around here if you've got a small tank and a big throttle, so get it when you can.

North of Woodsfield, SR26 has a few issues. There are about 8 miles of very bumpy roads with lots of edge patching and gravel. It's not dangerous, it just isn't any fun. But hang on, once you cross the township line, it goes right back to smooth and fun again, all the way to Barnesville.

From Barnesville we headed east on 147. The first 10 miles or so are nothing special, but east of Belmont, the road is marked scenic on my Ohio map, and it certainly is. The first 15-20 miles runs along a series of ridge tops with sweeping views to both sides. The last five or so miles before you get to the Ohio River are known as Pipe Creek Rd, and follows this creek down the steep hill. Tight twists and turns all the way down!

From there we rode Route 7 along the river going south, which was a nice relaxing break, to OH SR536 at Hannibal. The turn to 536 is marked "NOTICE - WINDING ROADS - SHARP TURNS - STEEP GRADES - NO SEMI'S". This road is very technical, very twisty, with great views back over your shoulder as you climb out of the valley but don't look or you'll be off the road that quick. Maybe my favorite bit of pavement ion the whole state. Better than the best part of 555. Just my opinion, YMMV.

We took 78 back through Woodsfield and then OH SR145 back down to Marietta. This would be a nice road if it were repaved, but for now it's just too rough to be any fun. Lots of road cuts and spot patching, very uneven surfaces.

I've tried and failed to upload some pics. Really, how hard can this be? I've posted some on Picasa :

Hope this leads someone to head out and explore these roads. Have fun, be safe.
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:17 AM   #2
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Wow you just about hit the mother load of roads in SE OH plus you scored a growler @ Weasle Boys and Marrietta Brewing Co. A great weekend for sure
Have fun in Germany!
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:36 AM   #3
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Sounds like you had a blast!

We hit the same area over the weekend but from the opposite direction. My friend and I on '05 and '06 Concours and my 19 yr old son on his '86 500 Interceptor. Even though my son has been riding for three years, this was his first long ride with us. Due to my friend's schedule we had to leave from home Sunday morning. The earlier than forecast rain on Monday forced us to cancel riding 26 and 555.

My opinions of roads:
556 - Pretty decent. Pavement condition OK.

Sykes Ridge Road - New pavement. Very narrow and tight turns immediately after leaving SR7 at the river.

536 - From Sykes Ridge Road to the river the pavement turns very poor. A lot of cinders and uneven sections. I was less than impressed with most of this road.

800 - From SR7 to I70. The first few miles were very twisty. The pavement is a little rough but not bad. The Sunday morning rain combined with occasional mud had us heeding the posted speed at most curves. After a few miles the pavement improved and it was much more fun.

Pennyroyal Rd - Found on accident due to a GPS glitch, was very nice. It's just west of 800 and North of I70. Narrow but smooth and clean. It's kind of a road to nowhere unless you want to get off of the pavement on the connecting gravel roads so you will need to ride in both directions. The Garmin insisted that it connected to I70, It was wrong.

We camped at Sonny's Campground just South of Sardis on Rt 7. The campground was very quiet and well maintained. The couple who own it are exceptionally nice folk. They lit the campfire next to the office for us then sat around it talking until late evening. They were very entertaining and shared more $ in Crown Royal with us than they collected in tent fees.
If you intend to camp in the area, I highly recommend Sonny and Jo's place. Tell 'em Ken sent you. FWIW: Their daughter owns Able Cheese in Sardis, which is a "must stop" if you're in the area.

We rode in and out of light rain all the way back North until we hit a major storm in a small town on Rt 250. Every passing car threw a wave over us. A thirty minute pause under a BP station canopy was enough to let the worst part pass.

I had high expectations due to all of the comparisons to North Carolina roads. While the ride was enjoyable, It's not on par with NC. Our winters are not kind to pavement. Most of the noteworthy roads in NC are about twice as wide as 536 and have much fewer driveways along them. Even so, I'll head back to ride more.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:44 AM   #4
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There are no good roads in Ohio. Stay away
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:36 AM   #5
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Hey! Thanks for Sharing!

Thanks to this site I've seen some lovely areas in Kansas, Nebraska and now Ohio. There's a sticky here somewhere that gives a step by step for uploading photos and even let's you try it without embarrasment. dd
...what this really wants is an outgoing, gregarious, driven, type A; an extrovert, Alpha male P.T. Barnum salesman type with little time left to examine his life or to worry about knocking things off the coffee table with his tail....John Burns

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Old 06-01-2010, 02:44 PM   #6
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Potato / Potatoe

"536 - From Sykes Ridge Road to the river the pavement turns very poor. A lot of cinders and uneven sections. I was less than impressed with most of this road."

See, this is why you need to read more than one report. All three of us decided this was about our favorite road of the whole trip, and kenoh2 was "less than impressed" while riding it the same day. Wonder if it could be that he seemed to be riding towards the river and we were riding up it.

As for the sticky about how to add pictures, it just doesn't seem like it should be that hard, although lots of us seem to be unable to do it right. Whatever.
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Old 06-01-2010, 02:47 PM   #7
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Corrected spelling for link to pictures:
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Old 06-01-2010, 07:05 PM   #8
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It is no wonder the SE Ohio roads are fantastic. In fact, most of southern Ohio roads are great. It's partly due to the fact that southern Ohio is considered part of the Appalachian region. AND, the Ohio River Valley creates a lot of curvy and hilly roads.

To learn more about Appalachia, visit the Appalachian Regional Commission.


D. Brent Miller, writer, photographer, producer, Publisher of Sojourn Chronicles,
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Old 06-01-2010, 07:35 PM   #9
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The wall

Your right about our roads but I think you have the wrong town for the wall. It's cool but not in Marietta.
I'd rather be knee deep in a creek pulling a rock out from underneath your bike. : My wife
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:29 PM   #10
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The wall has been moved?

Since I titled this as being about southeast Ohio, I had planned to leave out that we came home to Dayton through Portsmouth. No slight or misinformation intended. Most of the roads we traveled weren't really report worthy (except SR 125 in Shawnee Forest and SR247 from Seaman to Hillsboro) and so neglected to mention the fine city of Portsmouth. For the two people who looked at the pictures, I apologize for any confusion. For those who have not seen the wall of murals in Portsmouth, get over there!

Anyone ever been to the Scioto Ribber BBQ place there? Smelled GREAT, wish I hadn't just stopped somewhere else.
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:40 PM   #11
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Scioto Ribber

So, who's bright idea was it to stop in Portsmouth for chili dogs when we coulda eaten at the Ribber? Actually, I knew about the Ribber (ate there, in fact) but forgot what town it was in. Foods as good as the smell.

Here's some photographs (ain't that what you pitcher takin' types call 'em?)

Y Bridge in Zanesville, OH from Putnam Park

Some high spot on some road somewhere in SE Ohio (I'm not good at remembering this stuff)

Nicest bike on the trip in front of about the 5th or 6th covered bridge we saw... first one we didn't rip by too fast to stop and and enjoy.

Bob Evans Homestead, Rio Grande. "Bahhhb Evans.... Down on the Farm!"

Portsmouth Murals - One of I think about 56 panels. this one is a post card repro of Chillicothe I believe

Big Muskie - Largest dragline bucket in the world. Can't remember how much it holds.... I know at least one jbar

We had a blast. As soon as jbar figures out the posting routine, he has some great pictures. He is a fantastic photographer,

Vintage Days next, right!!!!!?

tt100 screwed with this post 06-03-2010 at 05:02 AM
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:15 AM   #12
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Next attempt at adding photos
From Memorial Day Ride
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:17 AM   #13
jbar28 OP
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I guess that worked. Now maybe a bit bigger

From Memorial Day Ride
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:24 AM   #14
jbar28 OP
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I know this is so old school, but Google Maps doesn't seem to handle this many turns in one map. Anyway, the red line is our route, starting in Dayton on the west end of the loop.
From Memorial Day Ride

TT100 trying to explain to the guy at Weasel Boy in Zanesville what size beer he wanted
From Memorial Day Ride

Very cool building we passed.

From Memorial Day Ride

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Old 04-17-2015, 07:34 AM   #15
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Location: McConnelsville, Ohio
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Your'll all exploring my neck of the woods!!! Bikes are a blast down here. Quick story when I was still in high school my father pointed out to me that at 15 and a half years old I could buy my motorcycle permit and drive myself to school my freshman year. So first vehicle was a $350 Honda 250 nighthawk, the old girl had been totaled and was now equipped with dirtbike front forks and gas tank. Real lady killer.
To see the excitement from you guys and to hear how big a hit the country down here really made me want to share with you what its been like being raised on st rt 78.
P.S. I was raised in Reinersville 6 miles from miners memorial park. Hope to meet a few of you someday enjoy and stay safe.
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