Sport Touring Corner
By Norm Kern
Every rider has their own list of riding preferences- slow to fast pace, straight or twisty roads, cruising gathering places or seeking quiet country roads, dirt – gravel or smooth paved. The list could go on forever, but one thing is certain- the greater the difference in preferences, the less likely two riders will enjoy riding together.
I joined Motorcycle Sport Touring Association in 2001 because its members rode in the style that most appeals to me. When I go to a MSTA regional rally or local gathering, there are always plenty of like-minded people to ride with, as they are concentrated there.
At home, it can be more difficult to find local riders to connect with, as the more specific your preferences, the harder it is to find others who share them. A good place to start is by connecting with members in local motorcycle clubs. Some of them may share your preferred riding style, but even if they don’t, they might know someone who does. Bike nights sound like an obvious place to connect but the nearest ones that attract sport touring and adv riders are in Cincinnati- a bit far away for me in Dayton, Ohio.
Social media is mostly online people you never get to meet in person, but sheer number of people on platforms like Facebook is in your favor. Search for groups that interest you. I am a member of several Ohio-centric adventure riding groups, a Yamaha FJR group, a Suzuki V Strom group, national and regional MSTA groups, etc. Participate in discussions and help people when you can. After a while people know you. I like to post invitations to ride when good weather is coming up, I post a weather forecast for attention and ask who wants to ride. In the past year I met two V Strom riders who have become good friends and riding buddies, as well as several others.
Even though we all want people to ride with, we never think about how to BE someone others will want to ride with. Most of us want to meet up with someone who matches our style, knows some great roads and is willing to lead rides. If you can become that person, it will be a lot easier for you to find people to ride with.
A few months ago I wrote in this column about finding fun, twisty roads to ride that are nearby. I also built a web page with some of my favorite routes in southwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana. When meeting someone new, I invite them to go to my page and choose a route that appeals to them. They don’t have to create a route or lead, but they get to choose some things they prefer- shorter or longer, smoother or rougher, all pavement or pavement and gravel mix. By looking at the page they learn about what I like. Likewise, their choice tells me a bit about what they like.
There are regular friends I ride with who are very comfortable and in tune with each other. They expect to ride a brisk pace on challenging roads. Bringing a new person of unknown skill into the regular group is risky for safety and will be stressful for the new person if the pace is too fast. Just slow down? If the new person is slow, needs to stop a lot, etc, it can spoil the day for regulars who are not getting the ride they expected. That’s doubly stressful for me, as I’m trying to please two groups who want different things.
A better idea: When riding with a new person, do it one-on-one. I’m free to adapt the ride for them without worrying about anyone else. If we are a good match, they can ride with the regulars next time. Even if we turn out not to be compatible, I gain perspective. It’s all good!
Two more routes have been added to Norm’s Favorite Rides web page.
06 Indiana Gravel North 264 miles Starts on Austin road just West of exit 41 of I-75. Goes around the South side of Miamisburg and Germantown, through Camden to Liberty, Indiana. The route then goes West, following a network of farm roads with mixed gravel and pavement, bounded by state route 44 on the South and US 40 on the North.
07 Indiana Gravel South 228 miles Ride to Indiana similar to the North Route above.. The route then goes South and West, crossing a bridge over Brookville lake, following a network of farm roads with mixed gravel and pavement, bounded by county road 260 on the North and US 52 on the South. Although shorter than the North route, the South route has more elevation changes and much of it is twisty. After lunch and gas in Brookville, there are some fun paved roads along the return route back to the start on Austin Road.
If you want to practice riding gravel roads, both are good routes- nothing difficult. Any road bike will work, but it’s more fun on a BMW GS, KTM Adventure or Suzuki V Strom of any size.
Check out Norms Rides at https://norms-rides.flybyweek.com/
Connect with local Ohio MSTA riders at these monthly breakfasts:
Southwest Ohio Breakfast, 9AM June 18
Village Family Restaurant
144 S. Main St.
Waynesville, OH 45068
Central Ohio Breakfast Meet – Sunday July 3. Arrive at 8 am to eat, 9 to ride if weather permits.
6515 S High St
Lockbourne, OH 43137