“LAST DAY IN LAWRENCE” (Wednesday, October 13, 2010)

Spent the morning uploading the last of my videos, washing clothes and organizing my stuff. Spent much more time in Lawrence than I had planned, but no real choice. Have to stay on top of the social media component of the ride. Am hoping some help arrives soon so I don’t lose more precious ride days. Want to make one final shout out to Marci and Joe for tolerating an unexpected houseguest – it was much appreciated!

That afternoon, met a local inventor who built his own electric bike at a coffee shop, then was treated to dinner (thanks, Scott!) by Scott Allegrucci, Executive Director of the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy, one of the organizations leading the fight to block a new polluting coal plant in western Kansas.

It’s incredibly energizing to meet activists like Scott who are really making things happen. Looking forward to getting back on the road tomorrow morning.

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“AND ANOTHER…” (Tuesday, October 12, 2010)

Spent the morning editing more videos and catching up on emails. Then rode with Democratic State Senator Marci Francisco on our bikes to The Merc for lunch. Lots of smiles from students on the way checking out the trike. The Merc is a local health food/restaurant (even nicer than Whole Foods) that Marci was eager to show off. If I lived here, I’d be hooked.

Had a call this afternoon with my “communications team” and am finally starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Andy has finished the promotional video and Mike is mere days away from having the website ready to launch. So things are looking up. I just need to keep loading the blogs, videos and photos in preparation. Here’s one final shout out to Marci and Joe for putting up with their unexpected houseguest for so long – I’ll be out of here soon!

Took a break from work tonight to ride up to campus to speak with the University of Kansas student environmental group, Environs. Great group and very warm reception to the “100% by 2020” goal. It’s encouraging to see the younger generation as impatient for change as I am.

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“ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE” (Monday, October 11, 2010)

There aren’t many better places to be on a rainy fall day than downtown Lawrence, KS. I really like this town. Some call it the Boulder of the Midwest. Want to give a shout out to the Sunflower Bike Shop for looking out for my knees with the gratis bike fitting this morning. Thanks, Derek! Also had the opportunity to meet the shop’s resident stray cat, Stanley (go to the “staff” link at http://sunfloweroutdoorandbike.com/ and click on “Stanley”), a friendly little guy who I learned is always trying to sneak out of the store. He even has his own Facebook page.

Not much else to repot on today, other than spending the last ten 10 hours at a local coffee shop editing and posting videos from the ride, and I’m still not done. They’re vacuuming the floor now, so will have to continue this project back at Marci and Joe’s house. Looks like I’m in for another late night. Starting to look forward to getting back on the road.

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“OFFICE DAY” (Sunday, October 10, 2010)

Pedaled with Democratic State Senator Marci Francisco down to the 41st annual Octoginta to see off 650 cyclists for their 80-mile ride today. Tempted to join, as it was a gorgeous fall day for a ride, but decided to conserve my energy for the many miles yet to come.

While standing there, two kind souls walked up to me this morning, donating $10 each to help me along my way – thanks, guys! Later, had breakfast downtown with Marci and her husband Joe, then back to the guest loft in their home to edit more videos. I can’t express enough how much I appreciate their incredibly generous hospitality. There’s nothing like having a quiet, comfortable place to get some work done during breaks from riding. Was hoping to take part in one of 350.org’s 10/10/10 events today, but couldn’t find any local work parties in which to participate, so kept my nose to the grindstone editing more videos. Did take time, however, to share dinner, and stimulating conversation, with Marci and Joe.

Am increasingly concerned about my website not being up, so I’ve decided not to leave Lawrence until I at least get all my blogs and videos uploaded. Will help me focus on the riding, not having that hanging over my head. So may be here for a couple more days. Will have some serious pedaling in store for me then, however, as time (and the weather) is not on my side if I hope to make DC before the snow flies.

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“NEW FRIENDS IN LAWRENCE” (Saturday, October 9, 2010)

Pedaled to the local Farmers Market in the morning to show off the trike and recruit more petition signers. Was surprised to be approached by someone who knew not only what kind of trike I was riding (a velomobile), but the exact brand name (Go-One). Robin Kidney, who’s fascinated with electric vehicles, shared with me what she had learned on the web about Velomobiles, and the Go-One in particular. She then happily volunteered to keep an eye on it, while I grabbed some breakfast from the burrito stand. When I got back, she had gathered a small crowd and was handing out my business cards, asking people to sign the petition. I told her she’s my new PR agent! Spent the rest of the morning wandering the market, and spotting Robin for short breaks. Deeply appreciate your wonderful enthusiasm and help, Robin.

Later headed over to a local park for the bike swap meet (where locals bring bikes and bike parts to swap out or sell) and got lots of interest in the trike. Met a guy, Ari Gold, who is one year into a decade-long ride to Australia (he’s taking the long way there).  Checked out his bike, loaded down with gear. Made my trek look rather tame by comparison.

I’m so backlogged on correspondence I had to turn down great offers of a pot luck dinner and drinks at a local bar to spend the night updating my blog and email database and getting the website ready for launch. Exciting Saturday night in Lawrence!

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“THE CAPITOL DOME” (Wednesday, October 6, 2010)

Kicked off the day with an interview with local ABC affiliate KTKA TV near campus:


Then swung by Big Poppi Bicycle Co. to pick up some supplies (thanks for the free chain lube!). Then pedaled over to campus for an interview with the Kansas State Collegian:


After that, packed up my gear and was escorted out of town by Zack Pistora on his bike. I want to give a shout out to Zack, Kevin, Eric, Dave, Alex, Shane, Kristen and Bryce for making me feel so welcome during my brief stay in Manhattan. Hope to see you guys in Boulder during Thanksgiving for the CU-KSU game.

On the road to Topeka, dropped into the offices of The Wamego Times and St. Marys Star for more interviews and photos of the trike.


Also saw one the largest coal plants in the country (over 2000 MW) in the distance riding through the Kansas countryside.  The sight of those three giant smokestacks spewing toxic pollutants into the air was a sobering reminder of how big a job we have ahead of us.

Finally rolled into Topeka (for a total of 60 miles on the day), but after being severely rattled for several miles through a section of Hwy. 24 being repaved, I learned that the campground I was looking for was nowhere near my current location, with the sun already setting on the horizon, so instead of risking another flat tire, I decided to grab my first hotel room of the trip.

After a quick shower, I was picked up by Republican State Representative Vern Swanson (a friend of State Rep. Elaine Bowers), who along with his wife, Susie, treated me to dinner downtown. After an enjoyable conversation over dinner, I was graciously offered a tour of the Capitol Building, which ended up becoming a very special tour, indeed, when the night guard, whose love of the historic building was contagious, proceeded to show us all the amazing things about the rotunda that most people never get to see. I learned a lot about Kansas’ fascinating populist history. Then it was back to the motel, for some badly needed Zs.

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“HOLED UP” (Sunday, October 3, 2010)

Spent the entire day holed up in the Graham’s basement, updating my blog and website. Emerged from my den just long enough to join the family for some locally-grown, home-cooked meals and to talk about the trike with friends and relatives who stopped by. The generosity being extended to me by the Graham family is one of the things I love the most about this country. They are truly a family of givers and I can’t thank them enough.

Tonight, Connor generously helped me clean up the trike (his dad just wishes he could get that kind of help from him detailing his truck), so she’s looking good as new. Michelle and Republican State Representative Elaine Bowers meanwhile have been lining up enough public talks and media interviews to keep me busy for the next couple of days.

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“HITTING THE WALL & BREAKING THROUGH” (Friday, October 1, 2010)

The day started off well. Early up with the sun, with a fellow bike enthusiast and his two little dogs stopping by to check out the trike as I was breaking camp. Was hoping to make Concordia by the end of the day, but breakfast up the street at a local diner led to one conversation after another… and I didn’t get out of Paul’s Diner until past 10:00am, but still wanted to swing by the office of the Smith County Pioneer. So I pedaled into town, only to be told by Linda Levin their photographer was out. Then in walked Linda’s husband (who I had met at the diner just moments before, and had happened to take some pictures of the trike), so that took care of that.

On my way out of town, stopped at a convenience store to fill up my water bladders and up drives Alvin Devlin, who I’d also met at the diner (where he was telling me about a major wind project Smith County was developing). He wanted me to meet Smith Center Economic Development Director Pam Barta and drove me back into town to her office. After our video interview, Pam then invited me to speak at the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon, taking place 10 minutes later, which I was happy to do. Didn’t get out of town until after 1:00pm, with 60 miles to knock out. So much for my early start.

Don’t know if it was the late start, or just the miles catching up with me, but had a really rough ride day today. Low energy and not feeling particularly strong. Runners call it “hitting the wall.” Three and a half hours later, I limp into Mankato, hoping some food might give me a boost. First I stopped by the Jewell County Record, where they took a shot of the trike. Then I pedaled down the alley to a local diner to try and reenergize with some food.

When the proprietor saw my bike, she asked where I was riding. When I told her Washington, DC, she laughed out loud. Then she asked when I expected to arrive, and when I told her that, she guffawed again. I finished my meal, silently thanking her for the motivation, and knocked out the next 30 miles to Belleville in record time. More hawk sightings. Busted through the wall today, logging 64 miles in 6 hours of riding, but am still looking forward to some rest and recuperation this weekend.

Small town Kansas really has it going. I’m writing this from a free (yes, such things still exist) campground on the outskirts of Belleville, KS, where I just enjoyed a hot (yes, hot) shower. I needed it, after today’s ride.

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“CROSSWINDS & PAIN” (Wednesday, September 29, 2010)

Gusting crosswinds all day made for slow going, especially up the numerous hills that characterize western Kansas.

Late in the morning, the pain in my right knee got so bad I decided it was time to kick in the electric-assist motor for the bigger hills, and I’m glad I did, because the day was full of them. Getting a little electric assist on the tougher hills took a lot of strain off the knee and made the pedaling more bearable. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. Today was another good media day. Rolled down Main Street in Atwood and did an interview with the Rawlins County Square Deal:

Rolled up to country music radio station KFNF off Hwy. 36 and did an interview there before heading to Oberlin for a stop at the Oberlin Herald where the office cat runs the show.

Interesting how the last few days I was constantly dodging grasshoppers in the shoulder. Today there were almost none (due to the wind, I suppose), but lots of black beetles negotiating their way across the treacherous (to them) asphalt strip. Did my best not to add to their troubles. More hawk sightings today.

Didn’t want to spend tonight in another town square, so took a calculated risk and pushed for the turn-off to Prairie Dog State Park, hoping I could make it before the sun went down and it got too dangerous to ride. Was a tough slog at the end of an already long day (8 hours of riding for a total of 82 miles on the day), but only missed my mark by 15 minutes. Wouldn’t have wanted to ride on that shoulder five minutes longer, though. Finally rolled into Prairie Dog State Park just as it was getting dark and the mosquitos were getting active.

They have a beautiful campground nestled next to a reservoir, with free showers and not too many people this time of year. Looking forward to seeing the dogs in the morning.

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“FARMERS GREENING THE GRID” (Tuesday, September 28, 2010)

Grabbed a quick breakfast at the Wray Diner, swung by the Wray Gazette on my way out of town, then hit the road. Two hawk encounters early in the day, then a bunch of tough hills in SW Nebraska and NW Kansas, making for slow going most of the way. Still knocked out 73 miles. Haven’t used the electric-assist motor yet, but may have to reconsider, given the worsening pain in my right knee. Saw this iconic windmill in Nebraska.

Pedaled down Main Street in St. Francis and found the offices of the St. Francis Herald, where I did a brief interview and they took some shots of the trike.

St. Francis Herald Article

Then hit Main Street, Bird City, where I met some more really nice folks (cuious about the trike – like pretty much everywhere I go) and wolfed down some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Almost everyone I’ve met so far enthusiastically supports the “100% by 2020” goal.

Next town up was McDonald, where I was pedaling down Main Street and received a nice surprise: two very large residential wind turbines at the edge of town.

Popped into the liquor store to ask who owned them, and the proprietor called the owner, who promptly drove down and met me. After a brief conversation, A.B. Fisher invited me back to his house, where he spoke with me on why its important to him to become energy independent. He also had a few choice words for Congress. A.B. personifies the kind of can-do, entrepreneurial American spirit we need to get this country back on track.

That night, camped in McDonald’s town square.

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