“The weather looks good. So are we on?”
“Yes. I’ll meet you in Brookville about noon. We’ll find some lunch and enjoy a ride.”
“See you then.”
And with that brief conversation with my brother, Brian, the meet-up and motorcycling adventure was about to begin. Well, what’s an adventure? Any successful ride that ends safely back at home can be an adventure.
Although I have been living in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area for about five years, my first encounter with riding in southeastern Indiana came six years ago when I received my first assignment writing a feature tour article for RoadRunner magazine. The article was published almost a year later.
How does one describe the joy of motorcycling while riding such joyous roads? My route to Brookville? Avoid the interstates. Take the back roads through the countryside, and so it was as I motored west on Ohio SR 129 through Hamilton and the rural area of southwestern Ohio until I reached the Ohio-Indiana state line at a merging of routes at Scipio. On 129, you can’t see the historical buildings of this hamlet. They are better seen on SR 126, and when 129 and 126 meet at the line, you are now on Indiana SR 252 and diving deeper into the hills and curves made by glaciers millions of years ago forming the valleys and tributaries on either side of the Whitewater River.
About 18 miles from the state line, I have scooted through the hills and down into Brookville. As I cross the bridge over the tail waters from Brookville Lake, I quickly look up and down stream. Fly fishers are in the water pursuing the elusive brown trout that populate the waters. Brian claims this stretch of water is the best trout fishing in Indiana.
I am early. Brian will not be here for maybe 30 minutes, so I decide to scout out a place to eat. Apparently he did not like the biker bar where we ate some time ago, so we needed to find a new restaurant or sandwich shop. First south on US 52, Main Street, and then north. I spy a couple of places but decide to ride west on US 52 to meet him on the highway. Nearly eight miles away, and at the historical village of Metamora, we pass each other. Turning around quickly, we pull over and decide to eat there in Metamora at the Hearth Stone Restaurant.
After lunch, and a good one at that, Brian decides he needs to return home for other scheduled activities. I scan the map and decide to follow Brian west on US 52 to Indiana SR 121 and north to Connersville. On the map, it’s just a line on paper, but as I approached the junction, and waved goodbye to my brother who continued on US 52, I realized this road was one I traveled in that first RoadRunner article. It is far from a straight road. Identified as the Whitewater Canal Scenic Road, it twists and turns along the edge of the hillsides through several small towns. Pushing north, I turn east on SR 44 at Connersville and turn towards home—I have reached the halfway mark on this ride.
The ride towards home is uneventful, and yet wonderful. SR 44, east to the state line where it becomes Ohio SR 725, is rural. Farmers are in the field taking in the last of the corn with those giant harvesters. Tractors with huge dually wheels pull the grain trailers to the side of the road and await the trucks to take the grain to the elevators. Yes, autumn is in the air, still, in November.
At Germantown, I turn south to catch SR 123 which will angle southeast through Carlisle, Franklin, the crossroads known as Red Lion, to Lebanon and then south on SR 48 to home—about 150 miles of joy.
These are some of my favorite roads—the best two-lane highways, blue highways as William Least Heat Moon would call them. These roads are not for making time. If you want speedy travels, get on the interstate. If you want to see the small towns, white-steeple chapels on the hillside, farmers working the fields, and neighbors enjoying the day outside, then the back roads are for you, for they are a joy to motorcycle.
See you on the highway.