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Sport Touring Corner

By Norm Kern

MSTA FlyBy Week was fun and exciting this year- over 160 attendees had a great time riding the twisty roads of Southeast Ohio and Northern West Virginia. My friend and bike wash guru Jeremy Riffle and I knew attendance would be double last year for Monday – Wednesday so we arrived on Sunday to get set up at the event hotel, Comfort Suites Marietta. We were ready to rock and roll on Monday morning!

Checking New Routes-

This year’s route selection included three new road routes we did not get a chance to pre-ride, so I spent the first few days checking them out. First up on Monday was the Country Lanes West Virginia technical route.

(The “technical” category refers to twisty routes that use narrower county roads with less than perfect pavement- sport bike riders want to avoid them while riders of adventure and sport touring bikes seek them out.) It rained off and on most of the day, but this 220 mile route was so much fun on my 650 V Strom that I didn’t care. It became one of the most popular routes of the week.

By Monday evening, quite a few people had arrived, including Brad Trout, Shane and Grayson Willacher from Galion, Ohio, who had been to a Moto America race in Pennsylvania over the weekend. They read about FlyBy Week in Thunder Roads Ohio and stopped by to check it out. Dan Trampel, who attended FlyBy Week last year, was back with Anthony Crawford and James Gillette from Chicago.

On Tuesday morning, these guys were excited to do a spirited technical ride, so I took them to check out my new Norm’s Ridge Inn route to Hocking hills.

It features a technical morning option with over seventy extra miles of county roads- 180 miles total- to lunch. The Ridge Inn was wonderful as usual, and everyone was ready for a break.

The afternoon return route was about 100 miles of twisties on nice pavement back to the hotel. It’s based on part of a personal fun route I use to get from home to Marietta.

On Wednesday, I checked out the new Morgan’s Raid road route, which mixes a bit of Civil War history with a twisty route.

It follows part of the 1863 Confederate army incursion into Ohio between Nelsonville and Senecaville. Like the other new routes, it required a couple of changes. Updated GPX files were uploaded to the flybyweek.com website and update info was posted on the home page.

Thursday, my friend Dan Steinberg from North Carolina wanted to ride the Beallsville Diner Lunch ride. One of the most popular in the FlyBy Week collection, it features many of the best twisty roads in Southeast Ohio.

Dan led a group of six riders at a very fast pace on his BMW S1000 XR, followed by Chris Meredith on his Suzuki B King. (And the rest of us a bit further back!)

Friday morning I planned to ride a technical route with fellow volunteer Lou Laguna from Pennsylvania. He was going to bring someone with him but had to cancel. I then expected to ride by myself, but as I got ready to leave, old friend Mark McCoy asked if he could go along. Great!

As we pulled out of the lot, a half dozen other riders followed. They were staying right with us and I was so distracted that I missed a turn and had to turn around. They all turned around too! Turns out they were Lou’s friends and they planned on riding with us. I stopped and found out who they were. We all had a good laugh, then rode together and had a wonderful time.

Saturday I wanted to do a short ride to allow time to rest and prepare for the evening closing ceremony. Just before I left on a 110 mile route, Dave Brickner told me there was a gravel road error in the 60 mile short route.

As I rode my route, I kept thinking about the other route problem. I got back early, saw I had enough gas and time to ride the 60 mile route so I took off. Missed a way point and the GPS told me to turn around. Thinking I may be riding the route in the wrong direction, I turned around. Soon I saw that was a mistake too, so I shut off  the route and just followed the track in reverse. Turns out that the gravel road was only 18 miles from the end, so I had made the right choice. I turned around, hit I77 and was back at the hotel quickly.

Evening Activities-

Dinner tours enable attendees to go to nice bars and restaurants in downtown Marietta without having to put on gear and ride their bikes, making it easy and safe to have an adult beverage if they wish. Monday and Tuesday transportation was handled via car pooling by people who trailered to the event. 

There was no dinner tour on Wednesday, as our hotel provided free tickets to guests for the Dun Wright Smokin’ BBQ food truck that was in the parking lot. The food was tasty and convenient- very popular with our group.

Thursday and Friday were back to the dinner tours, this time with a trolley bus to handle the larger crowd.

Bike Wash-

Jeremy Riffle of Vehicle Enhancements, a high end detail shop in Dayton, Ohio, was busy all week with the bike wash. He was set up in the parking lot with a tent canopy, a Muc Off power washer designed for motorcycles and a commercial blower to dry them off.

Jeremy LOVES to clean bikes. I had an attendee ask me, “What’s up with that bike wash guy? I rode over there to see what was going on and he offered to wash my bike for me!” Yep, Jeremy finds it’s a great way to meet people and make new friends. All his help and supplies are free to attendees. (Also the Muc Off power washer is so much fun to use!)

Other Highlights-

Thursday-Saturday we had our favorite massage therapist, Anne-Marie LaFrance, of Morganton, North Carolina, doing free mini and full orthopedic body massages.

The GPS help station at registration was busy all week, helping people with settings, choosing and loading routes, etc. Paper routes were printed on demand for those who needed them.

Finding People to Ride With forms were available and several volunteers reached out to new attendees who were looking for riding partners. About twenty people took advantage of the forms.

The Closing Ceremony
We introduced national MSTA officers, area directors, event volunteers, and gave away door prizes.  We had 168 riders registered from seventeen states. Charles Borre of Daleville, Alabama, rode the farthest at around 800 miles. About one third were first time FlyBy Week attendees and about 15% were first time MSTA event attendees.

Next year’s FlyBy Week will be held August 21-27, 2023, once again at the Comfort Suites Marietta hotel. The 2023 flybyweek.com website goes live  and registration opens on Jan 1. Thanks to all who attended and we will see you next year!

Connect with local Ohio Motorcycle Sport Touring Association riders at these monthly breakfasts:

Southwest Ohio Breakfast, 9AM, October 21

Village Family Restaurant
144 S. Main St.
Waynesville, OH 45068

Central Ohio Breakfast, 8AM, November 6

Portside Cafe
6515 S High St
Lockbourne, OH 43137

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