According to Wikipedia, which is 100% accurate 100% of the time*, the Ohio-Indiana-Kentucky I-275 Loop comes in at a whopping 83.71 miles, and is the largest circle highway in the United States.
After having my car repaired (admittedly, it was also stagnant for a sizable amount of time), I’d been instructed to take that baby for a spin at high speeds, for a long distance, and with minimal braking. For years now, it seems, I’ve wanted to conquer driving this ol’ thing in one trip. Here was my chance. And with everything that has happened in the past 2+ months, having my car fixed and finally being able to drive it is one step back to normalcy. Here’s to hoping that snowballs. But not literally. Snow doesn’t rule.
Because this highway is based in the Greater Cincinnati Area, why not include it in my Tour de Cincinnati? There might be nothing Tour de Cincinnati-er than driving what has been coined the “Cincinnati Bypass.” Also, I love [local] geography, maps, driving, and—more specifically—driving in uncharted territories, so this is kind of my thing.
It should be noted that 275 is one of my least favorite highways in the area. In fact, I try to avoid it at all costs. Thankfully, my tryst with The Loop occurred during the day when traffic was at a minimal and the weather was more than cooperative (above freezing temperatures and even sunny). Some stats for your viewing pleasure:
Best Stretch of Highway
Definitely from Kilby Road (way westside Ohio) to Petersburg (Kentucky, west of the Greater Cincinnati Airport). Minimal civilization and a very, very pretty drive.
Worst Stretch of Highway
Tie between Everywheretown, Kentucky (between the airport and Alexandria) and the stretch between I-71 and I-75 in Ohio.
This section can make or break any road trip. Because I was alone, I fully intend to have record deals lined up on my porch (related: did anyone think to install a candid camera on my dashboard?). My solo concert would make Adele swoon.
Thankfully I had my iPod on shuffle, and some notable (and not-so-notable to others) artists were 2 Chainz, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber (Date: if you’re reading this, I can hear your judgment from here. I hope you still let me drive in the future), The-Dream, Tilly and the Wall, Cincinnati’s own Walk the Moon, and really any kind of rap (pulling up to my house to Big Tymers’ “Still Fly” (c. 2002) was a fantastic way to complete the journey) for faster-paced music.
The Usual Suspect
Me, myself, and I. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way There is something very cathartic about driving at length while solo, even if for only 85ish miles. A lot of reflecting happened, and probably a little too much thinking. Is that why my brain hurts?
A shit-ton. Over water? Also a shit-ton. But that includes creeks and no one is very concerned about those. We can thank the Ohio for two very large, very pretty bridges.
I left at a little after 10am from the I-75 Interchange (mile marker 43) and ended around 11:15am. My speeds varied, but it didn’t take too long. I also drove The Loop in a counterclockwise fashion just because it made the most sense to me. Like toilets flushing the opposite direction in another hemisphere, do east-siders feel the most natural driving it clockwise? (To be fair, I live due north of the city and, consequently, consider myself a “middle-sider”)
- After dominating The Loop, I’ve gladly touched asphalt in three different states (albeit much less ground in Indiana). Indiana, I think, is home to the most beautiful landscape. That can probably be attributed to the least amount of cityscape and the most amount of misplaced power plants juxtapositioned into serene and sweeping landscapes (I have a strange obsession with that).
- The entire trip required less than 1/4 of a tank of gas. I drive a Luxury Edition Taurus, too (haha, that description will always make me laugh, but seriously, a V6 is the slam), so that’s pretty impressive.
- The Avett Brothers remains my favorite travel music. Its special blend of slower tracks and upbeat jams makes for a really great road trip.
- Driving the two-seventy-five loop was fulfilling in a number of ways. Firstly, I did something I’d wanted to do for, like, ever. Second-of-ly, I got to drive my car while doing it. Thirdly, I got to hear some pretty great music in the meantime.
- I felt a noticeable pang of fear, guilt, and sadness when I drove through this stretch of highway. It isn’t lost on me how thankful and fortunate I am to have had gorgeous weather and clear visibility to the roads in front of me. And—above all—to have made my journey safely.
I’m so grateful to have Cincinnati’s city center so close to home, yet rural landscapes within a reasonably close driving distance (where they should remain because, although they are very pretty to look at, I’d never want to live there), and you should be too. With that said, it’s only appropriate that I leave you with an Avett Brothers lyric that really struck home as I made my nearly-84-mile trek around The Loop: “I wish you’d see yourself as beautiful as I see you.” (Go to 1:50. I have the chills listening to this. Seriously. Click here for the studio version of the song. The line comes in around 1:45.)