Marietta resident Bob Wark grew up in Canada, where, even before he was old enough to drive on the roads, he rode motorcycles in the fields. He wasn't much of an athlete, but he found that riding a motorcycle was something he was pretty good at.
"For a kid, it makes a striking impression," said Wark, 60. "I haven't been without a bike since."
Now that spring is officially here, so is motorcycle riding season. Even though the cold temperatures have still been lingering, Wark doesn't let that stop him from hopping on one of his motorcycles for a ride.
ASHLEY HILL The Marietta Times
Bob Wark rides his 1974 Harley Davidson motorcycle with a sidecar rig on his property in Marietta. The motorcycle is one of six he and his wife own.
Between Wark and his wife, Nancy, they have four "solo" motorcycles and two with sidecar rigs. Bob Wark even has an outfit with an internal heating mechanism for when he rides on cold days.
On any given day, one might see Bob or Nancy Wark riding through town on a motorcycle with a sidecar rig filled with groceries, or, sometimes, their dog.
"With a sidecar, you can do the things you need to do and not have to take your car and have fun doing them," Bob Wark said.
Routes to and from Marietta ideal for motorcycle riding:
From points north:
Zanesville - Ohio 60 south to Marietta.
Cambridge - Ohio 821 south to Marietta.
Wheeling - cross Ohio River to Ohio 7 south (Ohio River National Scenic Byway) to Marietta, or Ohio 7 south to Ohio 78 west to Woodsfield to Ohio 26 south to Marietta.
From points south:
Huntington - Ohio 7 north (Ohio River National Scenic Byway).
Charleston - U.S. 60 west to Nitro; U.S. 35 north to Ohio 7 north (Ohio River National Scenic Byway) to Marietta .
From points east:
Clarksburg -U.S. 50 west to Ellenboro; West Virginia 16 north to St. Mary's; cross Ohio River to Ohio 7 (Ohio River National Scenic Byway) south to Marietta.
From points west:
Lancaster - Ohio 37 east to Malta to Ohio 60 south to Marietta.
Chillicothe - U.S. 50 east to Athens to Ohio 550 east to Marietta.
Source: Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, www.mariettaohio.org.
Motorcycle training courses at Washington State:
Beginner rider and returning rider courses are offered Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays April through October.
The classes are made possible through Ohio Department of Public Safety grants and cost $25 per person.
To enroll in either course, a person must have a validated temporary motorcycle learner's permit or a valid motorcycle endorsement.
By passing either course, the state will waive the skills test required for a motorcycle endorsement.
For more information, visit www.motorcycle.ohio.gov or call 568-1936.
Their motorcycles include a 1940 BSA, a 1974 Harley-Davidson, a 1977 Jawa made in Czechoslovakia, a 1995 Suzuki, a 2006 Buell Blast and a 2007 Harley Davidson Super Glide.
"If you've only got one motorcycle, life's hardly worth living," Wark said. "I like vintage bikes the best."
Not only does Bob Wark ride motorcycles but he also has his own shop, The Warkshop, where he specializes in vintage and modern motorcycle painting and sidecar sales/installation.
"The sidecars is a big part of what I do," he said. "My busy sidecar season has just begun."
Gail Hardman, owner of Big 4 Motorsports on Pike Street in Marietta, said although spring is here, how busy the store is depends mostly on the weather.
The store sells Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawaski motorcycles, as well as Arctic Cat ATVs and motorcycle and ATV accessories. He said there's really no particular brand that sells better than the other, and there's no certain type of bike that is most popular, either, because it depends on a person's preference.
"You have the sport bike and then the cruisers...'" he said. "It's just like some guys want to drive a pickup truck and others want a sports car."
According to motorcycles.about.com, there are several things a person should take into consideration before buying their first motorcycle. A person should not overestimate their ability and they should also consider their needs, such as where they'll be riding.
Riders should be sure to choose a bike that fits their body and they should also keep their longterm budget in mind, as there are lots of extra things that go along with riding a motorcycle, such as insurance and safety gear.
Les Wolfe's motorcycle of choice is a motocross bike. He said he rides mostly on race tracks like Wildwood Lake Raceway in Little Hocking, the Pioneer Motorcycle Club in Waterford or at the Fly MX Park near Fly.
Wolfe, who has 18 motorcycles, serves as an instructor for motorcycle training courses at Washington State Community College. The classes are for beginner and returning riders and they are offered Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays April through October.
"When I ride, I'm either teaching or in the dirt, which is where my passion is - I love the off-road," said Wolfe, of Fleming. "I like the feeling...just the freedom...whether you're off-road or on the street."