The Blog

Friday, June 25, 2010

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo meets with The Green Riders

                                 We "lobby" Anna Eshoo for sustainable solutions

We had planned to leave Bethesda early this morning (the 23rd) but we managed to get an appointment with our Congresswoman Anna Eshoo at 11.  Catherine was tired of the heat and the ride into DC and Albin's bicycle was broken.  I wasn't too excited about going into the city again but Liza insisted and so we went.
The Cannon building is next to the Capitol and it is where the members of the House of Representatives have their offices. It is one of many grand old buildings and the air conditioning works just fine.  We found our way down the marble halls to Congresswoman Eshoo's office where we were greeted warmly by her staff.  There was a switchboard where two or three "staffers" answered phone calls from people like me and you who call their Congress people. 
Within a couple of minutes, we were ushered into Anna Eshoo's office where Anna greeted us warmly and to my surprise was aware of our journey and had looked at our blog and website.  She was like a proud parent who was so thrilled with what we had accomplished.  She asked interesting questions, listened to the answers, complimented us on our achievements and admired our healthy appearance.  
We talked about her work and her frustration with the pace of the legislative process.  She was especially frustrated with the Senate's unwillingness to pass the energy bill that the House sent to them a year ago.  I complimented her on her willingness to 'fight the good fight' and she said: "Someone has to do it!"
I'm so glad she is our representative and both Liza and I feel that we have a friend in Congress who will support us as we continue fighting for a sustainable future.
I'm grateful to Liza for pushing me into going down to DC for the 4th time and visiting with Anna Eshoo.  
It was the highlight of our DC experience.

Now we are on the road heading west.  As I write this, we just passed a mileage marker that announced 82 miles to Kansas City.  
Westward Ho!!

Saying goodbye to Chessa before she heads off to work
The thrill of the road - Part 1
The thrill continues unabated!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Green Riders officially arrive in Washington DC

On our way into DC to meet with friends and cousins, the Surley blew out another controller.
A parting shot.
I disconnected the plug from the motor to the controller so that there would be less resistance when pedaling and we continued on our way.  Albin hung on to the back of my bike and I "towed" him when it was safe.
We arrived on the Capital steps about the same time that our friend Antonia and her two friends arrived.  We staged an arrival scene and Liza and Albin sang their song.
I was getting worried because my sister-in-law Stephanie and her three boys were an hour late when they finally called.  Traffic and parking had slowed them down. (Cars are so great!!)
We all had lunch in the Native American Museum which has a fantastic cafe with ethnic food from Indians of the Americas.  Liza and I had buffalo. Catherine and Albin had rabbit and there were many other exotic choices.
We split up after lunch with Liza and myself going to the Air and Space museum with Stephanie and the triplets while Catherine and Albin "hung out" with Antonia in the Native American Museum.
The heat and humidity were incredible so we stayed in the museums until after 5 before riding and towing ourselves back up to Bethesda where we enjoyed our last evening with Chessa in her very comfortable home.
So now the journey ends.
Liza and I will go into town tomorrow for a brief meeting with our Congresswoman Anna Eshoo before hitting the long road home.
I'm tired, proud of our accomplishments, concerned about what I'll do next since my identity as a Green Rider is behind me and looking forward to seeing my family, friends and dog.
I just wish the next five or 6 days of driving were already behind us.
We do plan to post a few more blogs and there is a chance that I will put this adventure together into some coherent format but time will tell if I can muster enough enthusiasm for reprocessing this adventure.

Greeting friends on the Capital steps
Great to see Antonia
The official arrival
One last electric bicycle grin
The triplets ready for air-conditioned IMAX fun

Touristing in DC

Even though electric bikes are not allowed on the trail into town, we headed into town illegally.  Being on bikes has got to be the best way to see "the mall".  We were able to cruise the entire length of the mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capital Building.
We even went to Union Station for lunch before going to the Natural History Museum where we enjoyed much needed air conditioning and an IMAX movie.
I felt bad for the tourists battling the heat, dealing with long hot walks between monuments and museums and the discomfort of dealing with crowds of people.  On bikes, we found a perfect space between sitting in traffic in a car and the miles of hot hiking around "the mall".

We made it - Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument
Vietnam Memorial
The White House
Very sad - No Obama
The Capital
Liza being a good Green Rider

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brunswick to Washington DC!!!

After a horrible night of a high pitched barking dog, hot muggy air and lots of very hungry mosquitos, Catherine, Liza and Albin headed down the last 50 miles of the C&O while I drove into Bethesda where I found Chessa and Randy Lutter's house, got Chessa to agree to ride up the trail to meet the rest of the gang and rode about 10 miles or so up the C&O trail before we all met and cruised back down to Chessa's house where we relaxed and enjoyed air conditioning and showers.
After dinner, we rode 6 miles into Georgetown where we met with a reporter who had responded to an email that Liza had sent out.  Janet Donovan was very sweet and seemed like the consummate DC type.
(Whatever that is!)  We did a short interview with her and then found a Ben and Jerry's store for our daily ice cream.  We were quite the tourist attraction in town and talked to lots of folks who couldn't believe that we had done what we had done. (We can't believe it either!)
We made it home just as it got dark and went to bed exhausted after our bad night and long day.

Heading out for the last days ride
Two Green Riders fans
Great Falls of the Potomac
End of the line - almost
Lock 6 - I couldn't resist

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cooper's Rock to Brunswick

Last night, our campground neighbors rolled in just as we were eating.  They were a couple of "working guys" who looked like they had spent the day on the job.  After an awkward moment or two when they confessed their trepidation about being camped next to some "eco-groovies",  we got into a very interesting conversation.  They are building a coal fired power plant in the area and are very aware of the green movements dislike of the stuff.  As we talked, we were able to dissolve some of our prejudices and by the end of the conversation, we were talking about large scale solar, how coal plants can't get financing, how important coal is for jobs and how the politics around energy production is shifting away from unquestioning support of dirty fossil fuels and beginning to favor renewables as the financial system loses interest in fossil fuels and is also beginning to favor renewables.
It was a conversation I would never have imagined had I just seen the two "working guys" on the street.  

Our ride today started with a huge downhill run off of Cooper's Rock and then we got into some beautiful riding into Pennsylvania and then into Maryland.  Catherine started the day and rode for a couple of hours before giving her bike to Albin.  He was pretty sad to have missed some fine riding but within a half an hour he was very happy as the riding got even better.  Big rollers with downhills so steep that he got to go over 50 mph!
At lunch time, we rolled into  Frostburg where we jumped on the old railroad line trail that took us to Cumberland.  For some reason we got lucky again and had 15 miles of downhill on a perfectly even grade with a tailwind.  We basically sat on our bikes and watched the scenery go by.
I got my taste of coal when I was passed by the coal powered steam engine, that runs tourists around, just before it went into a tunnel.  I rode into the tunnel, thinking I could hold my breath and get through but the tunnel was plugged up with coal smoke and I couldn't see a thing.  I had to move at a crawl getting through the tunnel and came out coughing and sputtering from the irritation caused by the coal smoke.
Very disgusting.

In Cumberland, we made the decision to portage down the C&O trail and arrive in DC a day early so that we could be tourists for a day.  Finding a campsite was a huge ordeal but we finally found a pretty spot along the Potomac where we were able to swim and enjoy a great firefly show.

3 states in one day!
A big day for mileage milestones as well
So happy
Liza wanted to ride 100 miles today but only got 78
Coal demon
On the Potomac
Balancing tent poles - Zen and the art of setting up a tent
Our last dinner before DC

Morgantown to Coopers Rocks via Auto Repair

Catherine's first blog!!

Our last visit with a “sustainability  hero” was really a grand finale. After our night at the ice rink in Morgantown we went to see Paul Brown, a professor from WVU who has retrofitted his house to make it almost self sufficient with water and electricity.  He drives an electric car which he charges with the solar electricity from his roof. The same solar panels that cover the entire southern roof supply 95% of his electricity needs. Water catchment from the roof supply water that is treated to make it potable. It is stored in two large insulated tanks in the basement, one for cold and one for hot water.  The catchment tanks were built in the basement out of the Styrofoam blocks designed to be used for building foundations.  A great solution to figuring out how to get a pre built tank into an existing basement.  The hot water is heated by solar energy as well. He showed us around the house and the basement explaining simply and clearly how everything worked so even I understood.  What impressed me most was that his strong commitment to saving the planet guides all his life choices. He even has the courage to be running for the state legislature to work for green legislation.  We talked about the radical changes needed if the earth is to survive and the fact that the oil that is still spewing into the Gulf may have already 'tipped’ us over the edge.  Not a happy thought.
I’m not under the illusion that our riding electric bikes across the country is going to help with these huge problems so I was delighted meet Paul who has the commitment to fight for meaningful changes in the government if he gets elected.
We contributed to his campaign.
The rest of the day turned into a lot of driving since the van was not running well and the only Sprinter dealer was in Clarksburg, about an hour away. It turned out to be a burst hose and the repair was free because the van is still under warrantee.
We started biking across Highway 50 heading east, but we met some people who said that it is very dangerous, and we did not want to repeat yesterday's horrible experience.  So we loaded up and headed back towards Morgantown. 
We also met the people that are biking across country on normal bikes in six days, and one of their support people offered us ice cream!
Finally, we made it to a campground near Coopers Rock and, after settling in, went for a bike ride down to the awesome climbing and views that they have there! It was really a fun way to end an otherwise frustrating afternoon.

Our kind of political slogan
Famous Green Riders in Morgantown
Paul Brown's very cool house
Checking out the Zenn electric car
Cooper's Rocks
                                                                        Spider Man

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Check out our latest videos!! There is the music video teaser and the video from an event in Ohio

Into Morgantown -

After morning farming chores, we hopped on our bikes and headed towards Morgantown.  The first few miles were wonderful and then we hit Highway 7. 
What a disaster!
Narrow, fast, windy road with lots of huge trucks going way too fast. Catherine drove while the three of us "white-knuckled" our way into Morgantown.  Liza and Albin will add their comments to this blog about the harrowing ride.
We spent the afternoon with the media.  Reporters from both the local paper and the local TV outlet joined us at NIck's "office" where we talked and rode around for a couple of hours. 
Link to TV spot -
Nick's 'office' is called "Positive Spin" and he has done an amazing job organizing bicycle parts that he gets from various sources.  He builds bikes and lets people who are interested come in and work at one of the three bicycle stations that he has set up.  The level of organization and the attention to detail really impressed me.  For people interested in setting up a bicycle recycling program, it would be very worthwhile to check out Nick's project 
Afterwards, we enjoyed our almost daily ice cream before going to the library for our evening event where we presented our story to the Morgantown "green team".
After dinner, we headed up to the ice skating arena where the Morgantown Parks and Recreation Department allowed us to sleep in the arena.  It's the biggest room I have ever slept in!!

Liza -
"The stupid coal truck drivers who tried to kill me made me hate coal even more!  I almost died!  After riding the '7' I felt I had narrowly escaped death, because I had!"

"Other than the people driving like maniacs, the ride would have been fun.  Drivers don't know how to act around bicycle riders.  We should throw them on a bicycle for a day and see how they like it!"

Catherine - 
"I was glad I was driving but even I was scared when there were ten coal trucks stacked up behind me."

TV reporter taking a test spin.  Check out the shoes!
Talk about organization !!
One of three identical work stations
Morgantown Graffiti 
Green Riders down by the river
Our "bedroom"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wolf Run Campground, Ohio to a small farm 26 miles west of Morgantown WV-

Albin and Liza took the first driving shift so that Catherine and I could get a chance to ride together again.  We headed out after an active weather night on very fine windy county roads.  Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn and added about 15 miles to our day - whoops.
After a while, Catherine went back to her position behind the wheel and I took the two "kids" further on down the road . . . and what a road it was.  Probably some of the finest road along our route.  Steep, windy, great pavement, wonderful views of rolling hills and almost no traffic.  The road ended at the Ohio RIver where we met Catherine who had prepared a fine lunch.  We sat along the river at a locks and watched coal barges full of the nasty stuff floating down the river towards their toxic, combustive fate.
On the technical side, it turned out that when Albin and I regreased the motors on the recumbents, we used the wrong kind of grease.  (We used the grease we had which is a high pressure grease.)  I talked to the folks at Eco Speed who built the drive system we are using and was informed that we need to use a non high pressure grease.  So the plan for the afternoon included tearing the motors part again, cleaning and regreasing the gears and putting in the right kind of grease.
Albin wanted more riding so while Catherine, Liza and I bought grease and ate ice cream in New Martinsville, WV, Albin headed up the road towards the farm where our Morgantown host Nick Hein had invited us to the small farm that he is caretaking for some friends.
We picked up Albin and drove into the farm where we were greeted by lots of dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, goats and a sweet cow named Lucy.
We regreased the gears on both the motors and they are running very quietly now.  Just as we finished, Nick arrived and we spend an very enjoyable evening milking goats and getting to know NIck and a young friend, Zack, he brought out to help with the farm chores.  
Another great day on the road!

Southeast Ohio - Very nice!
Strange signs and a leak
We love these signs!
King coal and ice cream
Our welcoming committee at the farm
Bonding over an udder
Liza milking Lucy