Archive for the ‘Ohio’ Category


May 22nd, 2007 by David

We spent a day in Toledo, where we gave three presentations at the Maumee Country Day School – one for the high school, one for the elementary school, and one for the parents. The best part, though, was that all the older students in the elementary school brought their bikes to school and did a 7-mile ‘mini ride for climate’ to a nearby park and back. (Although, to bike safely in the city, we needed a team of police cars to block off roads.) The television news showed up, and we appeared in the Toledo Blade newspaper.

Presentation for Maumee Valley Country Day School (the high school)
A presentation for the Maumee Valley Country Day School (the elementary school)
Maumee Valley Students on the go - a mini-ride for climate.  7 miles, some 50 or so students!

The article in the newspaper was great overall, but the reporter got the idea that global warming would only be bad for people in South America (I show pictures of my bike trip across South America and talk about the effects of global warming there). The article started with “Toledo-area residents may not notice much change in their daily lives due to global warming,” which was not what I wanted people in Toledo to read.

It is true that global warming will be worse for poor developing nations than Toledo – but Toledo residents will nonetheless see major changes. According to one study summarized here, by the end of the century, summers in Ohio could be similar to the summers in Arkansas. Summers will not only be warmer, but also likely drier. Common fish in Lake Erie could disappear, lake levels would fall, and both strong storms and droughts – such as the 2002 drought, which ravaged Ohio, would become more common.

Bill biking Ohio

I wrote a letter to the editor with this information, and, perhaps more importantly, added information about global warming and Ohio to the presentation. (Of course, now we are in Michigan…so we have to keep updating the presentation as we go…)

Way To Go Ohio

May 20th, 2007 by Bill
What happens when it rains?  - We get wet.
Putting a new stem on David's bicycle

Departing Pittsburgh, we pedaled towards Ohio on a drenched Wednesday. At the height of the rain storm, David’s stem (the part that connects the handlebars to the frame) snapped. I have never heard of someone’s stem breaking before (it’s solid metal), but it probably had something to do with the fact that he purchased the stem when he was biking across Argentina. Luckily, we were only 2 miles from a bicycle shop and, with help from our friend Tim , we were on our way.

Llyod Willis, grandson, and lots of bicycles
Anyone up for some spinning?

We arrived in Ohio happy to leave behind the steep rolling hills of western Pennsylvania. Our first stop was Rogers, OH where we met Lloyd Willis and his family. Lloyd works as a parts manager for General Motors and is a dedicated cyclist and bicycle racer. His entire family takes part and they even teach spin classes in their basement. Lloyd talked to us about he often commutes 20 miles each way to work on his ultra light-weight racing bicycle. He said he shows up to work wide awake and arrives home having put in 40 miles of riding and a full day of work. Yet many people look at him as if he’s crazy for riding his bike instead of taking the car. Lloyd gets to do what he loves (bicycle), gets great exercise and saves a bunch of money on gas. Who is crazy?

Barb and Ed hosted us for the night, just outside of Youngstown

We stayed with Ed and Barb just outside Youngstown , OH. They treated us to an amazing dinner including some halibut they caught last summer in Alaska. Youngstown, like many towns we passed in this part of the country is shrinking in population even as the US population is growing. This a beautiful part of the US, but the economy of coal, cars, steel and other industry collapsed years ago and the economy still struggles. I wonder how many new jobs could be created with renewable energy. Unfortunately, Ohio doesn’t have a “renewable portfolio standard (RPS)”. RPS is legislation that says a state will produce a certain amount of their energy from renewable sources by a certain date. For example Montana will produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. Ohio is one of about 30 states that has not yet passed this legislation. Although it’s no guarantee of new jobs, it does signal to renewable energy companies that the state is serious about promoting renewable energy.

Dinner with Ben and Sharon, who we stayed with in Shaker Heights, just outside of Cleveland
8th grade at the Laurel School

We left Ed and Barb’s house, had a live radio interview (’Morning with Mangino’) and pedaled on north to the suburbs of Cleveland. There we stayed with Sharon and Ben, who get the prize for most energy efficient household so far (all energy saving light bulbs and a Toyota Prius Hybrid car). The next morning we biked over to the Laurel School to give a presentation to 8th grade girls. What an amazing group of kids! They knew so much about global warming and solutions that they should be riding across the country giving talks.

We left Laurel School in the suburbs and headed toward downtown Cleveland. Our route took us through East Cleveland, parts of which are in serious disrepair. Along the waterfront route we passed a coal burning power plant and a demonstration wind turbine. Which would you prefer in your neighborhood? (Aside from David: More importantly, who looks better – Bill in front of the coal plant, or David in front of the windmill?)

Into Cleveland!
Coal power plant in East Cleveland
Bicycle, Windmill, David

We rode alongside Lake Erie to the west side of Cleveland. Passing along the Cuyuhoga River I couldn’t help but think of our ability to make positive change even when a situation looks bleak. For those who don’t know this, the Cuyuhoga River is famous for catching fire several times in the 1960’s and 1970’s because it was so polluted. News of this helped to wake people up to the seriousness of the problem and began the changes, including the Clean Water Act, that many now take for granted. These changes only happened due to the hard work a few thoughtful and committed citizens.

Alys and Chris waving goodbye in the morning.

We rode on 20 miles across Cleveland to Chris and Alys’s house. I went to graduate school with Alys a bunch of years back. Luckily for us, Chris is also renting a condo about 65 miles west in Port Clinton, OH. The next day we left our panniers (bike bags) with Chris to bring to the condo and we biked to Port Clinton. There was a headwind much of the day so, even without the panniers, it feel like we were dragging cinderblocks behind the bikes.

On the way to Port Clinton we found ourselves at the Sundusky Bay Bridge. It’s illegal to bicycle across it because they made no provision for a bike lane and therefore it’s not safe. But there’s no other way to cross by bicycle without going 35 miles out of your way. So we stuck out our thumbs and, within seconds, Don picked us up in his Ford F-150 pick-up truck. Although he works for Ford, he was mad that his F-150 gets 13mpg when his 1969 Camaro has “5 times the horse power” and gets nearly as good mileage. It’s a good question — could we do better?