The Asphalt Angel’s Look Back at 2021

Story by Michael Marino

The 2021 riding season didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped, but this was year I got back on track with road riding.

Financial constraints, scheduling conflicts and, unfortunately, injuries cut into my riding time. Yet, I accomplished a bunch of goals I had outlined at the beginning of the year. I rode in my 30th different state, got to visit with friends I hadn’t seen since before COVID-19 and made progress on my Johnny Cash riding project.

I’d set a goal of logging 20,000 miles in 2021 to make up for the miles I lost to the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 and to stay on track to have 500,000 miles by the time I’m old enough to retire. I ended the year well short of that, but the more than 11,000 miles I did get in marked a welcome return to the five figures of annual mileage. 

My riding season’s kick off was delayed due to a late start on off-season maintenance on my Yamaha FJR1300 (named “Jadzia,” after the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character). My girlfriend took a new job in Cleveland, Ohio, in Nov. 2020, and we bought our house in Cleveland in mid-January 2021. With having to pack my tools when I would usually be starting my maintenance work — and prioritizing getting the house unpacked before I touched a box in the garage — I didn’t get out for my first motorcycle ride of 2021 until mid-April.

My first tour of the year — to MotoAmerica’s season-opener at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. — got cut short because of an unusual battery failure. I left home the morning of April 30 hoping to make it most of the way to Georgia. I didn’t make it out of Ohio. I made a fuel stop in Marietta, Ohio, and when I was ready to get back on the road, the bike wouldn’t start. I tried so hard to use a downhill gradient in the gas station’s parking lot to pop-start it, but I couldn’t get it to fire. I then tried taking the battery out – no small task on an FJR – and walked about a mile to an Autozone to buy a new battery. I walked back to the bike, only to discover the battery wasn’t the correct size. 

The photo I snapped right before I discovered my FJR wouldn’t start in Marietta, Ohio, on April 30.

The bright spot in an otherwise frustrating and depressing situation was a former co-worker of mine who lives in Marietta used her lunch hour to help me. She drove me to Autozone to return the battery, and her helping me push the bike down the parking lot’s incline was enough to finally get it started. I made it back to Cleveland without stopping and purchased a new battery the next day at Rick Rousch Motorsports in Medina, Ohio. The really odd thing was I tried starting the bike after I got home — and it started up seven times in my driveway. I’m guessing one or more of the battery’s cells were on the fritz.

Other than injuries that made me miss the MotoAmerica round at Road America in June and made the ride home from visiting friends in Albany very painful, the rest of the riding season was a blast.

The FJR ran smoothly on my next tour, which took me to the MotoAmerica round at VIRginia International Raceway in mid-May. The ride to Danville, Va., allowed me to revisit one of my favorite pieces of road (U.S. Route 58 from Interstate 77 to Martinsville, Va.), as well as stop twice at one of my favorite places on earth – the Lover’s Leap scenic overlook near Meadows of Dan, Va.

Some of my other rides in the early summer months included a daytrip to visit the picture exhibit at the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Midway South service plaza and a trek to western New York for a Johnny Cash stop (Panama, N.Y.). The latter also incorporated a visit to another favorite scenic vista – the Bemus Point rest area on the eastern shore of Lake Chautauqua.

I also tried riding a favorite loop route of mine in eastern Ohio (State Routes 164 and 212), but a road closure on SR 164 spoiled that ride. That ride also was one of the first times I tried using a GoPro (see header photo above). Though the GoPro is a very old model and the battery didn’t make it through the ride, it showed me that I’ve been missing out on a great way of capturing the motorcycling experience.

June featured a weekend tour to New Jersey and downstate New York that included three Johnny Cash stops. The riding conditions on the trip to New Jersey turned very soggy after I crossed into the Garden State. The downpours didn’t dilute the enjoyment of checking Hackensack, N.J., and Glen Rock, N.J., off my list. I made my way north the next morning and stopped in Haverstraw, N.Y., in more favorable conditions before heading back to Ohio. The trip home also included a brief stop at the curves of Hawks Nest near Port Jervis, N.Y.

The only hiccup during that trip was a retaining tab broke on my Arai Definant helmet that helps hold the face shield in place. It was a somewhat unnerving ride home, as I had to keep the face shield closed not matter what until I pulled into my driveway.

I got in two rides of significance in July. The first was an afternoon ride to Toronto, Ohio, for another Johnny Cash stop. Mid-July marked my annual ride to the Philadelphia/Allentown region to see friends I couldn’t visit in 2020. It was great grabbing coffee with fellow long-distance riding enthusiast Josh Giannini, catching up on what’s new in Limeport, Pa., with Michele Lewis-Buono and talking F1 and motorcycles with Mr. David Wadding.

I was off the bike for most of August due to prior commitments but had a great time Aug. 27-29 at the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association’s Mail Pouch Fly-By rally in Marietta, Ohio. The event was the first time in a long while that I got to ride with my good friend, fellow motojournalist and motorcycle touring mentor Roy Dyckman. Roy and I had a great time riding several of southeast Ohio’s finest motorcycling roads, including SR 26, SR 260, SR 800 and SR 255). The good times continued after Roy and I got back to the hotel Saturday evening. We had dinner with a stomach bug-stricken 2 Wheel Power Hour host Larry Ward. I also met another FJR1300 enthusiast – Jonathan Rader – while perusing the variety of motorcycles in the hotel parking lot, got a mini seminar in motorcycle GPS capabilities from MSTA VP Norm Kern and learned about my new home neighborhood from now-Columbus resident Howard Baumwell.

As I was getting ready to ride home from the Fly-By, I noticed my rear tire was down to the wear bar. That necessitated the first of two runs to Iron Pony Motorsports in a one-month span for new rubber. I got the new rear tire in time to get out on the bike on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend.

I got a lot of time in the saddle during September, thanks in large part to riding to the final two MotoAmerica rounds of 2021. I logged about 2,500 miles in those two weekends while getting to watch one of my Marino Communications clients win an AMA/MotoAmerica No. 1 plate and another fight for a title right to the last round.

After a weekend off the FJR, it was onto my first time attending the MSTA Fall Colors rally in Lewisburg, W.Va. Two weekends later was my last ride of 2021 – an about 1,100-mile tour to Albany, N.Y. to visit my good buddy and Yamaha Bolt owner John Robinson. Though my then-ongoing SI joint problems ended up cutting my riding season short, the season ended with a great time hanging out in New York’s Capital Region, as well as my first time riding in Vermont.

Even though I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to, the words of four-time AMA Superbike champion Josh Hayes I think ring true in these circumstances. I was interviewing Josh at the conclusion of a MotoAmerica event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and somehow we ended up talking about goals. Though I don’t recall his exact quote, he said that if you accomplish every goal you set for yourself you’ve set the bar too low. And that’s how I look at my 2021 season: that I’d rather aim for the utmost and still be proud of what I did while coming up short than settle for something I know isn’t a hard-earned victory. Maybe I could’ve gotten some more miles in this year, but there’s plenty I did accomplish in 2021 that’s made it one of my favorite riding seasons so far.

The Vintage Movement’s Harley-Davidson Restoration

The 2 Wheel Power Hour’s “Fun” Bob Wentzel and his partner Ted Guthrie of The Vintage Movement have embarked on a new restoration project for a customer. Larry Ward caught up with Ted at Bob’s North Benton Motorsports Complex to learn more about the project — and found out the restoration is a gift for the customer’s father.

Check out Larry’s video interview with Ted by visiting:

Check Out This Week’s Street Scene Power Hour Podcast!

On this week’s edition of Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour, 2 Wheel Power Hour editor Larry Ward began a series on the 1978 BMW he’s getting ready for a reliability run in May 2022.

You can check out the podcast by visiting

T.J. Tennent on the Street Scene Power Hour!

What motorcyclist doesn’t have questions about tires?

One man who may have the answer to most any question about “motorcycle shoes” is retired Bridgestone engineer — and long-time friend of the 2 Wheel Power Hour — T.J. Tennent.

T.J. Spent a full hour as 2 Wheel Power Hour host Larry Ward’s guest on Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour.

Click here to check out the podcast today!

Check Out This Week’s Armstrong Street Scene Power Hour Podcasr

If you haven’t already, check out this past week’s episode of Armstrong’s Street Scene Power Hour podcast, which features an interview with former flat track racing star and Mahoning Valley entrepreneur Thom Duma of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, Ohio.

To listen to the podcast visit or

Mines and Meadows

Story by Larry Ward

My tag-team partner, Roy Dyckman, and I have been itching to see what our new-to-us ATVs are capable of.

After a introductory outing with our four-wheel adventure machines at Allegheny National Forest, Roy and I decided to try out the Mines and Meadows ATV Resort in Wampum, Pa.

Located less than an hour from the Youngstown metro — and not far from the MotoAmerica venue Pittsburgh International Race Complex — the resort features a variety of trails on about 78 acres of land.

After the short drive from Canfield, Ohio, Roy and I quickly got our four-wheelers off the trailer in the spacious parking lot and got right down to riding. We decided to try the “Yellow Route,” which didn’t look too technical.

Unfortunately, trouble found us early in the ride. About 10 minutes into the ride, Roy high-sided his ATV in a terribly muddy area. Roy was fine after the crash, and the situation ended up being an opportunity for me to give my new winch a try. It worked like a charm.

The trails at Mines and Meadows seemed to be more technical that what we’d ridden in Allegheny National Forest. Parts of the route were pretty steep or rutted out with a few rocky downhill sections. Other sections were very muddy, but the experience helped me hone my ATV skills — such as how to stay out of trouble.

The Yellow Trail acts as the backbone of the trail system, with more technical sections branching off from it. It makes navigating the trail system a piece of cake — though it can take a while to get back to the trail head.

After a couple hours on the Yellow Trail, we arrived back at the staging area and made our way to the resort’s main store. Chock full of a wide range of off-road riding gear, the store also has cold drinks and snacks for famished off-road riding enthusiasts.

The staff at Mines and Meadows was courteous and very knowledgeable. I learned you can rent an side-by-side too — something I may have to try on my next visit to the resort to see if I like it more than an ATV.

Mines and Meadows is a top-flight off-road riding facility that won’t break the bank. For about $25, you can enjoy a full day of trail riding fun. It’s such a low price for being able to feel like a kid again with your buddies. Give it a try!

Larry’s Trip to the 2021 BMW RA National Rally

Story by Larry Ward 

One of the highlights of my year so far was my trip to the 2021 BMW Riders Association National Rally. This year’s event took place in Waynesville, N.C., in August, and I was joined on the journey by my riding buddy Alan Smallsreed.  

The forecast for the ride down wasn’t looking too friendly, so Alan and I decided to take the fastest route from Youngstown to Waynesville — which is Interstate 77.  

We followed I-77 through southeast Ohio and central West Virginia to the interstate’s overlap with Interstate 81 and stopped for the day at a quaint, well-maintained Scottish Inn. The inn had wonderful porches with rocking chairs out front — a perfect setup for some evening bench racing.  

The next day, we made a stop at Dale’s Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley, N.C., before finishing the ride to Waynesville. My last visit to the museum was 17 years ago, and my oh my how much it has grown. For those who don’t know, the museum was founded by AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Dale Walksler, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year.  

Dale’s son, Matt, has continued his father’s legacy of maintaining an excellent variety of motorcycles in a timeless museum setting. 

Among our activities at the rally were riding the sweeping curves of the scenic Cherohala Skyway, as well as a spirited-paced ride through Deals Gap. I was able to keep up with two younger riders on the 11-mile, 318-turn stretch of road, which made the riding very exciting and rewarding.  

It got a little hot in the riding gear, as daily temperatures topped out in the 90s for the most part — but it’s very important to wear all the gear all the time. 

The Riders Association put on a stellar rally this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the vendors and exhibits, as well as seeing old friends.  

The only downer part of the trip happened on the ride back to Youngstown. We got caught in a heavy rainstorm, during which an electrical gremlin with one of my BMW’s sensors caused the bike to stop running. I called Gene Robinson of Mathias BMW in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and within an hour a truck and trailer showed up to transport me and my bike to the Mathias BMW shop.  

Even though it was a Sunday, Gene’s crew got the bike running again that same day. Gene’s a rider through and through and has a reputation for going above and beyond for his customers — just like he did for me that day.  

My tag-team partner, Roy Dyckman, drove about 70 miles down to the shop from Canfield, Ohio, to get me and my soaking wet gear home. A turer friend cannot be found.  

Overall, it was a terrific weekend, and Alan was an excellent companion for the ride.  

Ride smart, wear all the gear all the time, and I’ll see you down the road. 

Roy’s Travel Guide for Riding Allegheny National Forest

Story by Roy Dyckman

To enjoy a day ride through Allegheny National Forest, take Interstate 80 to Pennsylvania State Route 66 North (Exit 60) toward Shippenville and Kane — in the heart of the world’s finest hardwood forest. The route also runs close by Cook’s Forest State Park, which is home to fine strains of ancient timber and the third-tallest tree in the United States. There are several other state record trees are located in that region, too.

After following SR 66 to the town of Leeper, you can turn right on Pennsylvania Route 36 and ride by the park’s headquarters about six miles down the road. If you stay on Route 66, the approach to Marienville offers a splendid view of the Allegheny highlands — miles of gently rolling terrain. Within the region is the southern trail head for the 96-mile North Country National Scenic Trail. The trail passes through the Allegheny National Forest, and the crosses Muzette Road about two miles west of Marienville. When it’s completed, the trail will be part of the longest continuous footpath in the United States — about 4,600 miles from Crown Point, N.Y., to North Dakota.

If you stay on SR 66 to Kane, Pa., you can visit the Kane Memorial Chapel and the Kane Depot. Don’t forget to stop by Bell’s Meat & Poultry — an old-fashioned grocery store that has recently been remodeled. The store features fresh produce, meats and cheeses, including some sausage made from family recipes like Swedish corn sausage and bigfoot sausage. Other local businesses to check out are CJ’s Spirits — a craft distillery — and Flickerwood Wine Cellars and Cocktail Lounge. Flickerwood is an award-winning winery that also features a deli menu.

If you’re looking for a good breakfast joint, look no further than Grandma Bair’s Family Restaurant and Catering. My favorites there are the variety of huge three-egg omelets, and the eatery also has tasty fish dinners and chicken dinner buckets.

Kane also serves as a central location from which to explore the forest region over a weekend, and The Spoonwood Inn is a great place to find lodging for the night. The family-owned inn motel was recently remodeled and features free wi-fi, cable TV, complimentary breakfast and a hike and bike ride from your room.

Another local establishment to sample is Texas Hot Lunch / 4 Sons. Opened in 1914, the restaurant is home of the original Texas hot and specializes in Souvlaki, Greek and American cuisine. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is open seven days a week.

Hope to see you down the road.

Labor Day Adventures, Part 1 (Saturday)

Story by Michael Marino

When my plans to visit the National Motorcycle Museum over Labor Day got put on hold by my bank account, I devised three northeast Ohio rides for that weekend — and they didn’t disappoint.

Though one of the routes wasn’t as twisty as the others, two of them allowed me to enjoy some fine Ohio backroads I hadn’t ridden yet in 2021. The other allowed me to explore a part of Ohio I hadn’t visited before and discover an area that I need to spend more time getting to know.

The route I chose for Saturday — Ohio State Route 83 — is one I used to ride a lot when I lived in Brunswick, Ohio, in 2010 to 2011, and is one I didn’t ride nearly enough when I lived in Columbus. I made it my first ride because — if weather didn’t cooperate the other two days — I wanted to make sure I got to ride SR 83 in dry conditions.

As I covered in another article, SR 83 is a favorite of mine, but not because it’s the twistiest or most technical road in Ohio. The part of the route from Wooster to its southern terminus at Beverly at Ohio State Route 60 offers a mix of sweepers and short twisty sections; isn’t too far from the Cleveland metro; offers several turn-around points to get back to Cleveland quickly; and has a couple neat villages along the way.

Now that I live in Cleveland, I had to pick a new return-to-home route. I chose one that looked pretty crooked on Google Maps — and that road (Ohio State Route 339) greatly exceeded my expectations.

Saturday route map.

From my home in South Euclid, I made my way to Interstate 271 on Cleveland’s east side and headed southbound to its terminus at Interstate 71, which I followed to the interchange with Ohio SR 83 (Exit 204).

Though SR 83 has a direct interchange with I-71, the fun doesn’t begin until south of Wooster. It’s about 18 miles of riding through nondescript, glaciated Ohio countryside and around the City of Wooster before the fun begins.

My rides on SR 83 usually include a stop at the BP gas station/convenience store at the corner of Dover Road (Ohio State Route 3) and Millersburg Road (SR 83). It’s a chance to fuel up and get some additional fluids in you before starting about 40-100 miles of riding fun (depending on where you decide to turn around and head home).

With my tank full of fuel and plenty of water and Powerade Zero in my system, I exited the BP parking lot onto Dover Road, maneuvered through the tight left-hand turn to get onto SR 83 and began the ride I’d been waiting all year to take.

I divide up SR 83 into sectors, with Sector 1 being the Wooster hairpin to the intersection with U.S. Route 36 near Coshocton. It’s the least technical of the three sectors. There are some sweepers with decent elevation change in the first sector until you get to the village of Millersburg.

It’s always neat to meander through central Millersburg, which boasts some well-kempt, classic architecture buildings and a restaurant that I often see a lot of motorcycles parked outside of (still haven’t stopped at it yet — maybe next ride).

South of Millersburg, the turns and elevation change get more pronounced — though I didn’t get to enjoy some of my favorite corners because of slow traffic holding me up for several miles.

When the slow-pokes finally got off the road, I got up to my usual back roads pace and got to enjoy a few memorable corners — including a fun set of them that are carved into the side of a hill. You start the segment by turning to the right while descending the side of the hill, then G-out as the pavement curves hard and uphill to the left. Next there’s a blind right-hander that transitions from uphill to downhill. It’s a section of road I think belongs on a road racing course.

After enjoying the remaining sweepers, I arrived on the outskirts of Coshocton and — after passing the really neat Roscoe Village — headed south on the SR 83/U.S. 36/Ohio State Route 16 bypass to the intersection where SR 83 and SR 16 go their separate ways.

This is the start of what I call Sector 2, which features mostly sweeper corners — with a few exceptions. There’s a downhill, left-right set of corners that remind me of a couple sections of the Portimao circuit in Portugal. With foreknowledge of the corners and a reasonable corner entry speed, it’s a fun left-hander that travels down a natural ledge that leads to a hard right turn. Your suspension bottoms out just before you turn into the right-hander, so a little too much speed and you’ll quickly find yourself in the left-hand lane.

There’s also a technical score of turns a little north of New Concord. As the road ascends a hill, it switches back a couple times with several tight, uphill curves that are a blast to lean into.

The terrain flattens out a little after the twisty bits as the route approaches New Concord. SR 83 runs to the west of the village and the Muskingum College campus, intersecting with U.S. Route 22 and, a mile or two later, Interstate 70. After crossing under the I-70 right of way, you’re greeted with a fun set of sweepers that gradually work their way downhill — leading to a very tight, 90-degree left-hander that had a big drop in it mid-corner. I have no idea how there isn’t a semi rolled over every time I ride through that corner.

From there to the route’s southern terminus, it’s a mix of tight sweepers and a few tighter corners. A short section of road where SR 83 overlaps with Ohio State Route 78 has some fun twists and turns, including one that feels sharply banked — like you’re riding around the rim of a natural bowl.

When I reached the southern end of SR 83, I rode on Ohio SR 60 east to the village of Beverly, which is the western terminus of Ohio SR 339. Looking back at the ride, I think I may have enjoyed riding SR 339 more than SR 83.

The east-west route connects Beverly with Ohio State Route 821 right near the Interstate 77 alignment, and I used the route to get to I-77 and start my journey back to Cleveland — and boy was it a fun ride.

The corners just keep on coming — tight sweepers or mild technical sections that do a great job balancing higher corner speeds than twisties while still keeping the motorcycle flip-flopping left-right-left-right for its entire about 14-mile length.

SR 339’s eastern terminus is just south of the Johnny Appleseed memorial — which, in a rush to get home, I completely forgot to turn left at SR 821 and check out.

As I rode back to Cuyahoga County, I felt happy that I’d finally gotten to ride SR 83 again, but was just as happy that I’d discovered SR 339. I was seriously impressed with the flow and pace of SR 339 and may work to incorporate it into my other southeast Ohio day ride routes.