Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Singing the Praises of Ohio Roads

OHIO? Yes, these are some of my favorite driving/riding roads in the country. What makes Ohio backroads special?

First of all, there are generally fairly few people on the roads. That contrasts to W. Va., for example, where you always seem to be behind a truck of some sort. Of course, you have to take care for what is out of sight. You could find anything from an Amish buggy to coal truck.

Next, the road reading challenge is excellent. These are not easy, predictable winding roads. They duck and bob like a lightweight boxer. Actually, they would be fun to drive in a lightweight Boxster.

Finally, they follow the land, they do not cut through it. These are old roads where people went around or over the hill, whatever was easiest. Certainly, there are other old roads in the country, but many of those have been overrun by civilization and straightened to civilization's expectations. Not these Ohio roads. They are still wild at heart.

Its hard to photograph roads. The most interesting part of the road is that which is hidden ahead over a crest or around a bend. For example, the road in the picture above turns right. Before the barn.

I would like to dedicate this post to Steve Baumbach, who would love this drive, but for various very good reasons has never ventured into south eastern Ohio. There are lots of excellent roads to try. This is just one idea that minimizes navigation requirements and includes some of my favorite roads. Think of it as driving Hwy 26 down and returning by either Hwy 555 or 83. Hwy 555 is a real challenge, so its probably best kept for a dry day.

Hwy 83 is a long time favorite. Especially the section from Beverly to Cumberland. That section has few houses because it was once coal mining country. These days, the land has been reclaimed and is now a recreation area and quite empty on a weekday. The other reason I love Hwy 83 is that it stays curvy further north than any other road.

View Ohio Twisty Road Tour in a larger map
Naturally, I marked up a map. This is the standard Google map deal, zoomable, terrain and satellite, just with a route and comments posted on the map. This makes a long, but enjoyable 2 day run from the Detroit area. I recommend the Historic Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio as a interesting place to stop. It a great old hotel that has been beautifully restored, is right on the river, and has reasonable room prices.

Of course, sometimes you get rain, but the country is beautiful anyway. It doesn't hurt that the leaves were changing, which looks good in the rain or sunshine.

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