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Five fairly easy routes for rookie riders


Beginning riders looking to enjoy their motorcycles away from the press of heavy traffic will find that Maryland boasts a number of roads less traveled. Riders may have to pass through some heavily traveled highways to get to them, though. With that in mind, here are five routes that offer beginners rides with lighter traffic and pleasant scenery.

Falls Road to Route 30 --Beginning in Baltimore, catch Falls Road and take it north. At the Falls Road and Joppa Road intersection, turn left to stay on Falls Road. At the next light, turn left on Greenspring Valley Road and then turn right onto Greenspring Avenue. Near the end of the route, Greenspring morphs into Worthington Avenue, which merges into Butler Road, which intersects Hanover Pike (Route 30). The ride's scenic enough to make a return trip as interesting as the ride up. The route includes gas stations and restaurants.

York Road to the Pennsylvania line --Take York Road (Route 45) north from Mount Carmel Road (Route 137). You'll be going through Gunpowder Falls State Park at the southern end of this route. It's a beautiful ride with some nice turns and access to gas stations and restaurants.

Maryland Route 97 --From just north of Route 108 in Olney to Route 32 near Westminster, Route 97 offers a variety of riding situations, ranging from a short stretch of slow, twisting roadway to sweeping turns that can be taken at legal speeds of around 50 mph. Varied scenery, gas and food stops, and relatively light weekend traffic make Route 97 a great near-urban ride.

Uniontown Road and Route 77 --Pick up Uniontown Road at Route 31 just west of the McDaniel College campus in Westminster. Uniontown Road begins as a residential road and then the road opens up into farmland and from there the speed limit rises and falls like the hills along this route. Just west of Uniontown, Uniontown Road becomes Middleburg Road, which turns into Route 77 west of the Route 194 intersection. Route 77 takes you into Thurmont. If you choose to stay on 77, it will take you through a beautiful and at times quite twisty parkway through Catoctin Mountain National Park and on to Smithsburg. Gas and food stops along the way. On the return trip, try Maryland Route 550 at the edge of Thurmont (you'll bear right rather than staying the course on 77) to Liberty Road (Route 26).

Maryland Route 216 to Ten Oaks Road --Get on Route 216 in Fulton and travel northwest, crossing Route 108, where Route 216 becomes Highland Road. Continue on Highland to Ten Oaks Road. At Ten Oaks, you can turn south and return to 108, or go north to Maryland Route 32. Lots of woods along this suburban residential route. Gas and restaurant stops available.

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