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Thread: Ohio 555 and More

  1. #1
    Braz J Brase's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Central Indiana

    Ohio 555 and More

    Old John and His New R1150RS Try to Get In Trouble

    Friday I decided that I would go somewhere for the weekend, or part of it. I had no idea where and considered the Mississippi, the Ozarks (Missouri and/or Arkansas), Kentucky and Tennessee and finally settled on West Virginia, mostly because it looked like the weather might be more moderate in that direction. I left about 8:30 Saturday morning and took US 40 to Springfield, Ohio and then went southeast on a variety of non-Interstate roads to the river (Ohio) then followed the river to Huntington (W.VA). I was thinking of overnighting at Huntington but I got there with much of the afternoon still left so I stopped at a welcome center to get a map and investigate lodging possibilities. I didn't know how hard it might be to find a room with the holiday travel so I checked the map and one of those motel guides and decided that Parkersburg would be a better stopping point. I called a Red Roof and made a reservation and then set out along the river to Parkersburg. Got in about 6:30 and got directions to a "place to get steak and beer." I set out looking for an alleged Outback Steakhouse but never found it. I was on one of those roads that have multi lanes flanked on both sides by never-ending shopping centers and the need to watch all the traffic, all the time (ATT,ATT) meant I never did see the Outback. I did find a local place, River City Tavern & Grill, that looked promising and stopped there. I ate at the bar, of course, and had an excellent steak and good conversation with an elderly (my age) lawyer and Democrat party activist who was sitting next to me. He told me the owners of the place were two former Outback managers, which explained the food, like Outback but better. We discussed politics and politicians and engaged in a lively bit of Bush bashing along the way.

    The next morning I was up and out by 6:30 (5:30 my time). The first thing I had to do was stop for a deer on the entrance ramp to the highway. The deer seemed none too concerned about me and just wandered slowly away as I waited. I continued north along the river intending to cross back to Ohio by ferry but found the ferry didn't start till nine on Sundays. So I kept going north toward a town with a bridge. Stopped for breakfast at a local place on the main street of new Martinsville, an old river town and had a very good breakfast buffet while being entertained by listening to some local guys telling stories about other local guys. I had found a couple of promising looking roads (twisty) on the Ohio side that I wanted to try so I crossed over and went back south along the river and then made a loop through a national forest on the first of the twisty roads. It was one tight turn after another with only really short straight sections between the turns. I rode it hard and fast. The first part of the loop (OH 260, if you are following on your map) lacked those little speed advisory signs for the turns and that made it challenging since most of them were blind turns. The second leg (OH 26) was just as twisty but at least had speed clues posted. Decent pavement, for the most part, some gravel in some of the apexes but not too bad overall. It was about a 45 minute run and I was back to the river. About 30 miles down river I came to OH 555, famed as "The Triple Nickel." This has been called the most technically challenging road in Ohio and I had to try it. I had only gone about a half mile and was laid over pretty far in the middle of a turn when a state cop went by going the other direction. I slowed and waited for him to turn around but he didn't so I got back on it.

    The first 30 miles or so was curvy and fairly fast with lots of sweeping turns and a few tight ones but I didn't think it was as difficult as my earlier loop. Then I came to the part of the road responsible for its reputation. Holy ****! This thing was nothing but corners for the next twenty miles, no straight section longer than a hundred yards, and very hilly. Every corner seemed to be right over the crest of a hill. I was reading the tree line over the hills to get a clues to where the road would go on the dark side of the crest. I was starting to lose concentration, I had been riding hard for more than an hour and was finding myself one turn behind a lot of the time. I'd screw up a corner and I'd be still thinking about it when I should have been thinking about the next one. I kept telling myself to, "get in the game," but it wasn't working and I started looking for a place to pull off - not easy to find since the road has no shoulder at all. Finally found a spot and got out of my jacket and had a smoke. I was wearing my "big" clothes for protection and it was starting to get hot.

    The break helped and I was quickly back up to speed, brake hard into the corners, downshift, lean way over and accelerate hard to the next one. Then I crested a hill and the road went hard left - right now! No way was I going to make this one. Hard on the brakes, really hard, the ABS brakes make the tires chirp as they lock and unlock rapidly. Straight ahead is a rough gravel driveway and and I love it and hate it at the same time. It gives me a place to go without hitting anything (or falling down) but it is the the driveway's fault that the tree line gives me bad information. The rest of that leg went without incident, though I may have slowed some. At Portersville I grabbed a Gatorade, noticed a blister on my right palm, changed into my summer suit and started for home. Except for the cop, I didn't see a single car on either twisty route and saw only two other bikes, both going the other way and being ridden conservatively.

    Day one was 401 miles and day two was 425. I felt good at the end of the first day but I was really tired by the time I got home on day two, I think because I had worked so hard in the early part of the day. I did manage to scuff the chicken strips on my tires but I may be getting too old to be playing boy racer. I just wasn't sharp much of the time, really sloppy some of the time and, clearly, my ability to concentrate over long periods is a thing of the past. Maybe I need a track day. On the other hand, none of my joints hurt at all. That glucocamine/chondroitin regimen must be working. Is there something similar for the brain?

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  2. #2
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    NW Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by John Brase
    Old John and His New R1150RS Try to Get In Trouble

    Then I came to the part of the road responsible for its reputation. Holy ****! This thing was nothing but corners for the next twenty miles, no straight section longer than a hundred yards, and very hilly. Every corner seemed to be right over the crest of a hill.
    Isn't that road a blast? I like it better than several far more famous roads - you can actually roll along at a good clip, it's not so tight as Deal's Gap, and it's several times as many miles, so you can have lots of fun for hours and hours.

    Have done the length of 555 on an R100rs, an R11rs, and a Concours. Of the three, I'd say the Oilhead was the most fun, with reasonably light weight and precise steering and decent power. Ideal sport-touring road, IMO.

    But I am curious about doing it on something really light and nimble someday, maybe some sort of dualsport bike.

  3. #3
    On the Road exharleyscott's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    hoffman estates il
    I could not agree more. When I left the rally I made sure to ride 555 because of your post. I have to agree it was a great choise. I followed it south then 47 across w.v. what a great day. Thanks for the great idea.

  4. #4
    Registered User jshuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Westport, CT

    great road

    your post changed our entire trip. We left Mid-Ohio after the Vintage Races and made a bid loop.. 555 and Rt 50 across WVa. Then we made the BMOMOA in Lima. Very Very Nice... Smooth sweepers, little traffic and great sights. Thanks for the post... We didn't make Deal's Gap but decided that we had seen one of the great roads in the US... john shuck Westport, CT

  5. #5
    Hill William BiffsR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Newark, Ohio
    Nice report on 555. I rode part of it over the weekend, but I get to ride it as often as I want since it starts about 30 miles from my house. Poor me.

    You have to respect 555, or it can easily bite you with the blind corners, and varying surface conditions. I had the pleasure to ride the section between OH 37 and OH 78 after it had been freshly chip sealed. The pucker factor was high that day.

    I tend to ride some of the roads that intersect 555 more frequently. It is nice to ride without a plan becasue every turn leads to a fun road. 26 and 260 are great, too.
    2004 R1150R Silver

    There ain't no education in the second kick of a mule.

  6. #6
    No talking about local roads!

    When you are in the area you can make friends with a local, and they can take you there for a ride (blindfolded of course)

    Talking about the road publicly brings out the squids and the police

  7. #7

    Triple nickel WOW

    Rode the 555 on my extended ride home from the rally. Thanks for the advice it was worth the side trip. Also found another good road; Rt 7 in WV heading east and west between New Martinsville and Morgantown.

  8. #8
    Stunning contrast between the roads in NW Ohio (Lima) and SE Ohio. Great roads in any direction from Athens.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Grosjean

    But I am curious about doing it on something really light and nimble someday, maybe some sort of dualsport bike.
    I guess I'll have to go and find out for you, but I think I'll wait til it gets a little cooler.

  10. #10

    The oilhead GS handled this road quite well, but I think the perfect mount would be a supermoto bike.

    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
    __________________________________________________ ________________________________
    '67 Trail 90 || '86 R80 G/SPD+ || '97 F650ST || '00 1150 GS || '06 HP2e || '07 Xchallenge || '14 Grom

  11. #11
    Blocking the slow lane
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Edwardsville, IL
    Quote Originally Posted by SCQTT
    Talking about the road publicly brings out the squids and the police
    Not necessary to keep anything secret. That road is self-correcting.
    Jon Diaz
    BMW K75/K12GT
    BMWMOA Ambassador

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