Escape the heat from an Indian summer with a morning cruise along the Great Lake region's highways and byways.
Riders looking to get on their mounts before the wind in their face turns cold and blustery should breeze through a 15 mile, two-lane loop tour of the peninsula that is bordered to the north by Lake Erie and to the south by Presque Isle Bay.
Rev up your engines at Presque Isle State Park, just minutes away from Harley-Davidson of Erie. Bikers seeking kindred spirits should zoom down Route 18 to Sharon's original Quaker Steak & Lube eatery, a classic car and bike-themed restaurant that opened in 1874. The landmark attracts nearly 4,000 riders every Wednesday night for its "bike nite." Rides the curves of this snaking road past the scenic Conneaut Lake and Pymatuning State Park.
After filling up on QS&Ls world-famous wings, follow Route 62 east 50 miles to Franklin, where it joins the contours of the winding Allegheny River. Catch a glimpse of the stone mansion across the river, built by oil tycoon and founder of Galena Oil, Joseph Sibley. This corridor between Franklin and Oil City was once home to the largest oil refineries in the world, including Pennzoil. It's worth getting off your bike for a tour of the St. John's Episcopal Church and its 30 Tiffany stained-glass windows. Autumn's afternoon glow illuminates the iridescent glass of the rose window, considered one of the world's finest stained-glass windows.
From Oil City, cruise north through the valley of Route 8 to Oil Creek State Park. To the left are the remains of Petroleum City, one of the "wildest" oil boomtowns in the region; the sticky black stuff that keeps your bike running first gushed here in 1859. To the rear of the park is the Drake Well Museum that houses a recreation of the clamor surrounding the discovery of oil in northeastern Pennsylvania and construction of the first commercial oil well.
Hop back on Route 62 and cruise by the river and lush, forested mountains. This isolated, twisting tarmac takes you along the border of the Allegheny National Forest and into Warren at the intersection of Route 6. This 63-mile run is some of the state's most alluring riding, and when the trees turn, hillsides burst with color.
To complete the loop, head west on Route 6 to Elgin, hop onto Route 89 and follow it 26 miles north to Orchard Beach and pick up Route 5, which runs atop the cliff-lined shore of Lake Erie back into town.