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Messages - metzenberg

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I am a Madison, Wisconsin, native and currently resident in northern Illinois. This weekend (Memorial Day Weekend) I am riding on parts of what will become Corridor 30. The Glacial Drumlin Trail and the network of trails that includes the Elroy-Sparta trail are obvious candidates for Corridor 30.

Tomorrow I am starting very early with a very light bicycle and little gear and riding from Highland Park, Illinois, Madison, Wisconsin (146 miles). For most people, I would recommend 2 days for such a journey. I expect to just make it into Madison by dark. I will be using parts of what could become Corridor 37 and Corridor 30, cutting the corner around Milwaukee from Racine to Waukesha. This will be my longest ride since I turned 50.

The State of Wisconsin has done a wonderful job of converting rails to trails. It's now possible to cross much of the state in many different directions entirely on rail trails and minor paved roads with little traffic. Wisconsin should be a bicycle touring mecca.

I'd like to be active in planning the routes through Illinois and Wisconsin.

Howard Metzenberg

Underground Railroad / Erie-Oberlin-Cleveland Loop Tour
« on: May 21, 2008, 06:00:47 am »
I've had a chance to talk to some Oberlin College people in the last few months, and I understand that the town is very aware of being on the ACA route, and very happy for it.

The ACA Underground Railroad route through Oberlin, doesn't use the bike route I described. It commemorates a famous abolitionist incident, called the Oberlin-Welliington rescue, by taking the highway that the rescue route followed:

After Oberlin, it goes around Cleveland, passing through Medina, Ohio. There was a famous abolitionist church in Medina, and nearby Kent, Ohio, was the home of John Brown. The route highlights a lot of sites where incidents occurred, where opponents of slavery preached, and so forth.

When I was a student at Oberlin, a group of students re-enacted the underground railroad on foot. My recollection is that they actually arranged to sleep in some homes and buildings that were used to hide slaves.


This message was edited by metzenberg on 5-21-08 @ 2:03 AM

Underground Railroad / Erie-Oberlin-Cleveland Loop Tour
« on: March 17, 2008, 09:10:49 pm »

I actually did this same route last summer. From Oberlin to Elyria, there is an old rail trail that has been converted to a bike path, and it is always crowded. this rail trail crosses through the east side of the town of Oberlin. The county roads north and west of Oberlin are paved and have little traffic. Unfortunately, from Elyria onwards you are on roads, sometimes crowded, sharing with the cars. Here's the route I followed:

Oberlin should be on the Underground Railroad Route if it isn't. It was an important stop on the UR, and the college was the first in the USA to admit blacks as well as the first coeducational college. The second President of Oberlin College was the famed abolitionist Charles Grandison Finney. I'm a graduate of Oberlin College.


Routes / Northern Tier: Pennsylvania!?
« on: May 21, 2008, 05:17:16 am »

Last summer I rode across the north of Pennsylvania, following U.S. 6 for a good portion of the ride. You can see my route journaled here:

I used to record all my routes for GPS, so you can see the routes themselves. Sorry, but I didn't take a lot of pictures.

I took a route further south than the ACA route because  I had people to visit.

I was glad that the highway was marked regularly as a bike route. I had very little trouble in Pennsylvania with angry drivers and dogs. Even though little has been done to modify the highway, just the fact that it was marked at regular intervals as a state bike route made me feel more comfortable there. In general, the shoulder on U.S. 6 is wide. Occasionally, in a town, there would be short stretches without a shoulder.

The climb over the eastern continental divide was good exercise, but the grade was gentle.

Even though it was the middle of the summer, and I was on a state bike route, I didn't see a single touring cyclist besides myself in northern Pennsylvania, and this was in June too. By comparison, when I was briefly on the ACA's Northern Tier route in northern Ohio, I met many cyclists.

The so-called bike routes marked on the Pennsylvania highway map are a mixed bag. The rail trail that was supposed to exist coming into Hancock, New York, turned out to be more of a snowmobile trail. I used the road instead.

I don't feel like this route was really a great bike route. It was a way to cross the USA, but lacked the great rides and great scenery of the west. In western Pennsylvania, there is much more logging than in New York State or New England. It just doesn't feel like a high quality forest. I understand that houses are made of wood, that people need jobs, and so forth. That's my opinion. I think the ACA route is a better route, and certainly an easier one. Have a good trip.


This message was edited by metzenberg on 5-21-08 @ 1:22 AM

General Discussion / Sun protection
« on: May 21, 2008, 05:34:40 am »
I use a very high SPF number sunscreen, and I put more on during the day.

A lot of sun gets through your clothing, which isn't actually that effective as a barrier against the sun. I like to wear microfiber and synthetic T-shirts while riding.

The color blue is much better at scattering and reflecting the UV rays than red, yellow, or white. I have heard that a blue or purple T-shirt has an SPF of about 12, while a white one is only about 4. So I try to wear blue on sunny days. Or wear two lighter colors at the same time (the r-squared rule applies, so you get an SPF of 16).

I have also washed my synthetics in a sunscreen that is supposed to increase their sun protection to about 15, although I am really not sure how well it works. It is supposed to last about 10-15 washes, so you need to redo it every summer.


This message was edited by metzenberg on 5-21-08 @ 1:35 AM

General Discussion / Laptops while touring?
« on: March 17, 2008, 05:34:18 am »
I am wondering what experiences others have had with taking a laptop on a tour. This past summer, I rode from Chicago to New York via a route slightly to the south of the ACA route. I stayed in corporate hotel/motel chains most nights when I was not at a friend or relative's home.

One of the biggest problems I had was communications. Internet cafes are very hard to find in the USA, although  there is a lot of wireless. Most motels seemed to have a "business center" with some kind of PC, open until 10 pm or so.

This summer, I am going to be in eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria). My experience in Latin America was always that there are lots of small Internet cafes, usually for around $1.00 to $2.00 per hour. By contrast, they are almost non-existent in the USA. Even large Canadian cities like Toronto and Vancouver seem to have enough Internet cafes. Part of the problem in the USA is that most people have Internet for free at home, and if they don't, it is free at public libraries. Well, you can imagine how hard it was to do all your communicating at the free public library computer, with libraries now offering short hours, on your allotted 20 minutes.

Now that there are laptops under 3 lbs, I am thinking of taking one. Which one do you recommend. While I prefer Macintosh, it makes no difference to me for browsing and e-mail. Are there any small laptops that are sturdy enough for a long bike trip. How do you deal with preventing theft?

How easy is it to find wireless for free or at reasonable cost on a USA tour?  How do you deal with keeping your batteries charge.

Now, as to eastern Europe, my impression is that Internet cafes are much more common in Europe, since there are more travelers, and people live in denser urban areas. But it has been several years since I have been in Europe, so I am not sure how things have changed.

I have some notion that maybe I should just get away from it all and leave computers at home.

Howard Metzenberg

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