Monday, July 4, 2011

Death-Defying Ohio Ride Ends Happily

Well, I'm back home for a few days of R and R and all my appendages are still attached, which is always a good end result.  After 1200 miles, I've even lost a few pounds, but not enough yet to try out for any modeling jobs.

Any long-distance bicycler can tell you that you have a lot of time to think when you're riding solo, in my case, across the United States.  Here is some of what I've been thinking:

1) Ohio is the WORST for bicycling.  The Ohio Department of Transportation believes that if you paint a white line on the edge of the pavement and leave six inches of overlap on the side bicyclers and cars can share the same roadway.  It doesn't matter if in places that tiny shoulder is broken into jagged bits.  It doesn't matter if there's a two-foot drop off right into a ditch.  It wouldn't matter if you had to try to ride along the edge of the road with cars whizzing by on your left and the Grand Canyon on your right; ODOT would still refuse to add an extra foot of pavement or a guard rail.

So you ride across the Buckeye State at your peril. 

2) Other than frayed nerves, I got home in good shape and met plenty of nice people along the way.  One night, I stopped for dinner at an Applebees in Hudson, Ohio.  Manager Bob Grady, or "Grady" as everyone calls him, came over to talk after Ema Loucek, my waitress, told him I was riding to raise money for JDRF.  Grady has one son, who has multiple scholarship offers for college, and so he's justifiably proud.  He asked me to fill out an on-line survey, saying Ema did a great job (she did) and then paid my bill.  If I'd known that was coming, I would have had desert.

My rule on "free meals" is this:  the savings count as another donation to JDRF.  I set the money I would have spent aside and that's $15 more for the cause.

3) "Stealth camping" is a cheap way to see America.  On a bike, if you don't want to pay for a real camping spot, it's pretty easy to sneak into the woods or set up your tent on the edge of some farmer's field.  Stealth camping ettiquette requires:  a) never leave trash behind; b) never squash crops; c) keep your can of Mace handy in case there are axe murdering farmers around.

4) Stealth camping bicycle riders can and will become malodorous.

5) It is NOT fun to bicycle across America during monsoon season.  I was rained on for all or parts of nine days.

Stealth camping bicycle riders smell better after a good wash from Mother Nature.

This is what I saw for about half my trip.
 6) People are nice, part two.  At breakfast in Medina, Ohio one day, at the kind of  cafe you only find in small towns nowadays, I struck up a conversation with Corey Kujian and his wife Shannon Conley.  Corey has hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail.  So he has the adventurous spirit I respect.  Shannon is a history teacher at Medina High, clearly a dedicated one, and enthusiastic in her work and they have two charming young children (whose names I failed to ask).  Corey wondered if they could donate to the cause (the answer is always "yes") and handed over a crisp $20 bill. 

So that keeps me going strong.

6) There are a lot of random baseball hats and shoes lying along the roads and beer cans and beer bottles predominate.  (I have, however, seen only one bra.)  You wonder if there aren't a lot of hatless, shoeless people wandering around the country, and maybe some drunk chick going topless now.  I never see any martini glasses littering the highways, though , just beer containers.  I think this has something to do with the fact that martini drinkers are more sophisticated.

7) You should not leave your phone sitting on your sleeping bag on the back of your bike and try to pedal across America--unless you want to take your chances on some kind gentleman finding it, calling you, and saying he'll send it back to you in the mail.

I lost my phone that way...and Kevin said he'll send it soon.  So, for now, I've got no new pictures to post from my trip.

If you do happen to pass a bicycle rider in Ohio someday, give him or her plenty of room.  If it's me and you don't, I'll be screaming like a baby.

I Brake for Moose.
If you would like to donate to help find a cure for type-1 diabetes please click HERE

(This single click takes you to my fund-raising page.  There, click again on "donate to this event."  Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."


  1. John,
    When I read your posts it makes me even more proud of you! I hope some day to do something so giving for a cause of my own. I will keep you posted. On another note... I reread some of your blog posts. You sure are one heck of a writer! Can't wait for the book...
    Kate Blanton

  2. John: Chuck, Janet Boehme, Susan and I are reading your July 4 post, and marveling at your tale! Enjoy the holiday. best to the Ohio Vialls!