“GRUELING RIDE DAY” (Thursday, November 18, 2010)

Woke up this morning to ice on my windshield for the second time this trip.

It soon melted and the predicted rain never materialized. Cloudy all day, but highs in the low 40s actually made for comfortable riding. First day I could see my breath, though. Winter is finally nipping at my heels.

Rolled from the campground down to Denny’s for a hot breakfast and was greeted with lots of smiles. Want to thank Autumn, the manager of store #7841, for picking up my breakfast, and Linda and Lowana for their gracious kindness. After breakfast, did a morning interview with WHIZ radio from Zanesville and swung by The Daily Jeffersonian on my way out of town.

The Appalachians made for some grueling pedaling today. Need to get used to it, as more is on the way. The electric-assist motor provides just enough juice to help me up the toughest hills, if I pedal hard with it. So glad I lugged that extra 25 pounds all this way. Was encouraged by one hawk, then another, appearing during especially tough stretches of the ride. Later came upon this humorous scene, which made me laugh and the pedaling a little easier. Don’t think they’re going to sell much firewood with such a ferocious-looking lion guarding their pile.

Towards the end of the day, was met on the side of the road by a reporter from the Harrison News-Herald, who did an interview.

After 50 miles, made the town of Cadiz a little before dark, with my legs begging for relief. Rolled into a campground that felt more like a ghost town, set up my tent and hit the hay.

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“OHIO EMBRACING BIG SOLAR” (Wednesday, November 17, 2010)

Got an early morning call from NBC news affiliate WHIZ (which Paul had emailed in advance of my arrival) wanting to do an interview. So rolled down the old National Highway and met them at the historic “Y Bridge.” You can watch the video and see a photo slideshow at these two links:

Learned from the WHIZ reporter that one of the nation’s largest solar farms is being developed in Zanesville. This popular project, fittingly called “Turning Point,” is expected to bring up to 600 jobs through local manufacturing of the solar panels needed for the nearly 50 MW solar farm. Even more fittingly, it is being sited on a former coal mine. The project is slated to go online in 2012.

Also learned I had arrived just in time for Zanesville’s 52nd annual SERTOMA Pancake Day, a fundraiser for local charities. Followed the news van there for some breakfast.

What a scene. The cavernous basement was packed with people. Later learned they served 6,500 people pancakes and sausage over the course of the day. When the servers heard I had biked all the way from Colorado, Jim Drake (thanks for the contribution) stacked several extra flapjacks onto my already full plate. After devouring those, went back for seconds. Have never eaten so many pancakes in my life. Really enjoyed meeting Scott & Robin Obenour, Cindy, Chuck and Dee Dee.  Before leaving, was approached by a local radio reporter who had heard I was there and wanted to set up an interview for tomorrow. Gotta love small, friendly communities like Zanesville.

From Zanesville, pedaled down the road to New Concord, home of Muskingum University and boyhood home of astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth. John Glenn’s historic achievement helped unleash the best of the American spirit. We need a new generation of earthnauts today to unleash that same American spirit to achieve a modern day, green energy “moon shot.”

From New Concord, rolled down the road to Cambridge, which I easily made before dark. Beautiful day for riding. Low 50s and sunny. My buddy Paul had located a campground for me in Cambridge, right off Interstate 70, which was a real score (thanks, Paul!). With the late start getting out of town, only logged 38 miles today, but looking forward to a good night’s sleep. If it rains tomorrow like it rained yesterday, I’ll need it.

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“RIDING IN THE RAIN” (Tuesday, November 16, 2010)

Started the day by biking with Harvey over to Capital University to sit in on a couple of his classes and talk with his students about the ride. Learned some fascinating information sitting in on those classes. Here’s one I didn’t know: the gay rights movement in America was launched during the Stonewall riots – when gay men from Greenwich Village, tired of getting beaten up during police raids, decided to fight back. I hope these students look back someday and realize how lucky they were to have him as a professor.

It had started drizzling by the time I left, so affixed the ragtop rain cover and hit the road. Been incredibly blessed with good weather this entire trip, this being the first day I had to ride in the rain. Not yet having had breakfast, and needing to carb-load up for the miles to come, I lucked upon Rubino’s, an Italian restaurant that looked like it had been around for awhile. Turns out they’ve not only been in business since 1954, but also serve some of the tastiest pizza on the planet. Had spagetti for breakfast and a not small pizza for lunch, all in one sitting. Ended up powering me the whole day.

Didn’t think I would make it as far as Zanesville, with all the rain, then happened upon a campground a few miles out, but it was closed. Kept on riding and actually made it to a motel on the edge of town just as it was starting to get dark. Was relieved to be in a dry motel, as my “waterproof” Ortlieb panniers were anything but, and I needed to dry out all my gear. Knocked out 49 miles today. Not bad, given all the rain.

Getting out of my wet clothes, was surprised to see blood on the bathroom floor. Must have happened when my foot slipped getting out of the trike, hitting the hard edge of one of a floor vents. Never even felt it.

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