PHOTOS BY RANDY FATH
James Weaver, of Apple Creek, and his trusty steed, a Honda Nighthawk, have braved every rural road in Ohio over the past two decades.
PHOTOS BY CHRISTNA McCUNE | DGKN
James Weaver, of Apple Creek, with help from his niece, Courtney Geiser, and other family members, had an extensive display at Fairlawn Mennonite Church about his more than 20 years of adventuring across Ohio – by motorcycle.
APPLE CREEK Much can be said about those who choose to stray off the beaten path.
Ever since he was a kid, James Weaver has taken the road less traveled – metaphorically and literally.
By day, the soft-spoken mild-mannered 54-year-old Apple Creek man is a pipe maker and organ tuner for Schantz Organ Company in Orrville. After work and on weekends, Weaver is a road warrior. An adventurer. Roads call to him. And he responds.
On his Honda Nighthawk.
Around junior high age, the 1985 Central Christian graduate explored roads in Wayne County – on his bicycle. As a teenager, he pushed his pedals around the perimeter of the county.
As soon as he was of age, Weaver took to the roads on another two-wheeled beast. One with a motor that could take him farther quicker.
Anyone was welcome to attend an open house June 4 at Fairlawn Mennonite Church that his family encouraged him and helped him to set up. Half of a gymnasium was blocked off and filled with maps attached to upright cardboard for convenient viewing, and tables and backboards full of photos, books, charts and binders containing pages upon pages of Weaver’s extensive meticulous notes, including dates, miles, hours, miles per hour, and the area traveled.
The educational and historical display includes photos of covered bridges, fire towers, barns and more and is meant to be portable. Weaver said he expects to set it up again in the future.
“I wanted to make it worthwhile,” he said. “It’s not just about a motorcycle, it’s about Ohio.”
And it’s not only about Ohio. It’s about every single rural road in the state.
“A road to me has a personality,” he said. “To most people, it’s just a stupid road. To me, it can turn into an adventure.”
Weaver had kept his maps folded tightly in a little box and he kept his recreational activity and personal challenge to himself. His parents, Ivan and Joyce Weaver, and sister, Cindy, along with other extended family encouraged him to share the accomplishment of this rare feat.
Weaver has received attention for his adventuring before. Local newspaper reporter Lori Williams wrote about him after he traveled to all of Ohio’s towns. He also received the Buckeye Ambassador Award “For displaying an unparalleled devotion and interest in the state of Ohio” in 1997 from the Ohio Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“It’s just a cheap, easy fun way to travel,” Weaver said about why a motorcycle is his vehicle of choice. “A lot of the roads I went down you couldn’t even hardly take a car down. There are a lot of back roads, rough roads, dead ends and I’ve included all of those too – all of the hard ones. Not just the paved roads. Even the roads that are abandoned – not maintained anymore by the township.”
As far as he knows, he’s been on the full length of every rural road in Ohio. He rode either a Honda Nighthawk or a dual-purpose (street legal dirtbike) on the trickiest byways.
“It’s exciting, it’s the freedom, it’s economical, lightweight, easy to maneuver,” he continued. “You’re out in the weather, you’re out in the open, you’re not crammed in a box in a car. Motorcycles are quicker, are faster, they accelerate quicker.”