Day 5: Now I know why four different people were so adamant about me not staying at that motel. Daylight streaming in the windows betrayed it to be worse than I thought. I’ll spare you the gory details other than to say I “slept” fully clothed to avoid having to use the blanket or bedspread. I did learn something cool, though, as I was leaving. Part of the movie, The Mothman Prophesies (which I really liked), was filmed there. The paranormal film stars Richard Gere as John Klein, a reporter who stayed at this motel while investigating the Mothman legend.
On the way out of town, powered up with some caffeine at the Bean Thru drive up window (seen here). On the way out of town, powered up with some caffeine at the Bean Thru drive up window (pictured above).
After negotiating one more stretch of road with no shoulder, and a brief detour, finally arrived on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, and was soon on the Riverfront Trail, happy to be away from all the cars. Here’s a brief video showing what it was like “Rocket Triking Down Pittsburgh’s River Trail.” Along the way, I encountered something you don’t see everyday: a “Public Bra Display to Fight Breast Cancer” (the creative display is part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month). The trail took me straight to the Convention Center for an easy 8-mile morning. After registering, found a good location inside the hall to display the trike, which drew a lot of curious attendees to find out what I was doing.
A little later, got a call from the producer of the Thom Hartmann Program to do an interview on Thom’s radio show, which you can listen to here: “Riding for Renewables.” Thom joined me in urging that Keystone XL’s southern leg be stopped, and had a very creative idea about what to do with the already buried pipeline.
That evening, David Hughes, who put me up three years ago in Pittsburgh when I did my first ride to DC, gave me a ride back to his home. After being treated to some homemade Indian food and a couple of cold beers, I collapsed into a deep slumber.
Day 6: Spent all day at the Power Shift conference enlisting attendees in our campaign to stop Keystone XL’s southern leg. Sent out a ride update to my email distribution list and got a call from an old friend from my Clean Water Action days, John Friedrich, who happened to be tabling just down the hall. It was really good to re-connect with him.
Later got a ride back to David’s home and was treated to another great meal and more cold beers. Another good day.
Day 4: This is my second ride through this part of the country and there just is not a good bike route from eastern Ohio to Pittsburgh. So I’ve been winging it, getting advice from locals where I can and staying close to the Ohio River to avoid the worst of the hills. Highway 68 (which morphs into Highway 65) has a nice shoulder on some sections and none at all on others (that’s where you’ll see me pedaling the fastest), so I wasn’t terribly surprised when I got pulled over (again).
The first officer on the scene told me bikes were prohibited and that I had to get off the road. But he had no response when I asked him how else I was going to get to Pittsburgh, other than to suggest that someone come pick me up. Not happening. Fortunately, a more senior officer rolled up and took over. He asked why I was riding and I told him. He then looked at the trike and said something to the effect that it was not a normal bike (which suggested to me that normal rules might not apply). He then gave me his blessing to continue on my way, which I happily did.
A little while later, I got pulled over AGAIN (see squad car behind the trike). This time, the officer seemed more curious about the trike than anything else. He told me bikes were fine on the state highway, but to be careful. He then kindly trailed me over a particularly sketchy stretch, which was much appreciated.
Then the rain started, which cut down visibility and made things genuinely unsafe. Lucky for me, an inactive construction zone gave me a lane of the road to myself, which I rolled through right up to the door of the only motel between here and Pittsburgh, a motel that probably four different people has adamantly warned me NOT to stay at. I would honestly rank it as probably the worst I’ve ever stayed in, but sometimes you have to take what you can get. I’m just happy to have a roof over my head right now. Here’s a video I did of the short ride: Riding in the Rain to a Questionable Destination.
Here’s a shot of the room. Looks like someone got really mad and put their fists through the door.
Brought the petition 39 miles closer to the White House today. Really looking forward to Power Shift this weekend and to being among members of my tribe.
Day 3: After another late night blogging, downloading videos and photos and doing social media, spent the morning working on a press release, hoping the torrential downpour would stop by check-out time. It did and the first part of the day I pedaled through a light drizzle, which kept me nice and cool as I made my way across eastern Ohio. I rather enjoy riding in the rain.
Got some helpful advice from a local cyclist at a gas station at a critical junction that put me on the route with the safest shoulder for bikes. I find that there’s always help out there if I seek it. A ways down the road, fueled up with a sandwich at this awesome Amish Deli in Minerva.
Then the hills began. Here’s a video I took demonstrating a technique I use: How to Get a Fully Loaded Rocket Trike Up Tough Hills. This time it worked. If the hill is too long and steep, I just have to slog up it, but even that isn’t so bad. All that training this summer on the mountain bike paid off.
The big excitement for the day was getting pulled over by a State Highway patrol car (pictured here pulling away) on Highway 30 about 7 mile outside of East Liverpool, Ohio. You know how your body reacts nervously when you’re driving in a car and you see those flashing lights behind you pulling you over? Well, it doesn’t happen in a rocket trike, because number one, you know you probably weren’t speeding and number two, you know you’re bound to have an interesting conversation with that officer, no matter what. He told me no bikes or pedestrians were allowed on the shoulder (I saw no signs displayed to that effect) and just asked me to get off at the next exit, which was fine, as it took me right into town. He also gave me some good tips on the best route into Pittsburgh, which was much appreciated.
Carried the petition 51 miles closer to the White House today. Of course, there’s nothing like a cold beer after a day of hard riding. Holly (pictured here) handed me a cold one as I rolled through Dresden’s Drive-Thru in East Liverpool.
This is my new friend Patti from East Liverpool.
Day 2: Rode the first 6 miles out of Cuyahoga Falls this morning with John Clark’s dad, Nat (pictured here with his bike just outside of Akron). Was very grateful for the company and for the lead back to the Ohio & Eric Canal Towpath.
I took this short video to give you a sense of the sublime fall beauty I pedaled through on the towpath today: Rocket Triking Down the Erie & Ohio Towpath. I hope you enjoy it.
A little further down the trail in Canal Fulton, I came upon Ohio & Erie Canal Lock No. 4 (pictured here), originally built in 1827 of stone 16 feet wide and 90 feet long. The lock was in active use from 1827 to 1913. Some claim the grounds are haunted.
Rode a total of 47 miles today before calling it a day in East Canton. The budget motel where I’m staying has a most unique design: garages (pictured here) that you walk through to get to your room. The garages come complete with doors that pull down, for parking and securing your vehicle.
Day 1: Had a great afternoon send-off at the Cleveland office of EcoWatch today, carrying our petition signed by more than 7,000 people from all 50 states and many nations. Many thanks to Stefanie Spear and her talented staff for helping promote our grassroots campaign to stop Keystone XL’s southern leg.
Was deeply honored to have Cleveland-based John Clark ride with me the first few miles out of town. John and I shared a DC cell block together as part of the first wave of 1,253 activists arrested outside the White House during a 2011 protest against Keystone XL, serving two nights in jail with 63 others. John’s cell was directly across from mine and I’ll never forget something I witnessed on our second day. It was Sunday morning and John told a guard passing by that he was Catholic and sincerely asked if he would be able to receive Eucharist. The guard’s callous dismissal of John’s faith-driven request was jaw-dropping. It left me thinking just how dehumanizing prisons are, not only for those who are locked away, but also for those with the keys. Here’s what John told me: “That experience impressed on me so sharply how little respect American authorities actually have for the nation’s legally established rights.”
Rode the first 11 miles out of Cleveland on the Ohio & Erie Canalway, which included an impressive number of overpasses (like the one pictured here) designed for pedestrians and cyclists to avoid busy intersections. Great bike path.
Due to the ridiculous government shutdown, however, I had to divert around Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is officially closed. Fortunately, John knew another option that skirted the park boundary: the Bike & Hike Trail (pictured here). It required a sizable detour, but was well worth the effort, as the trail was smooth and quiet and the autumn scenery sublime.
Made it a total of 36 miles down the road to the home of John’s parents in Cuyahoga Falls, who were kind enough to house and feed a tired and hungry cyclist. Thank you, Lian & Nat!