Fifteen years ago, while sweating under the hot Italian sun in Cinque Terre, I took out my Treo smart phone, took a picture and sent an email to my brother-in-law. This was the exact moment I had the inspiration for building a solar ebike. At the time, I didn’t know anything about ebikes or solar power but I figured, “how hard can it be?”
That Italian tour started on the Austrian border and took me 2000 miles (3200 km) all the way to Sicily two months later on a non-electric Surly Long Haul Trucker. Today, with 2,012 miles on my trip odometer, I have traveled that same distance in 33 days making this the longest bike tour I have ever done.
A big thank you to the Hitterdal Lions Club for making the city park and it’s clean restroom available as an overnight stop to cyclists. A big f*** you to the truck drivers who were using compression brakes in a residential neighborhood at 2 AM and 3 AM and 4 AM…
Empty trucks heading east. Full trucks loaded with sugar beets heading west. All. Night. Long. It seemed like there were hundreds of trucks until it occurred to me that the distance from the fields to the processing plant I passed yesterday is probably not that far so it’s likely the same trucks are making roundtrips 24 hours a day. It must be sugar beet harvesting season.
I eventually ride out of The Peoples Republic of Sugar as I approach Itasca State Park. At last, the road shoulders are free of dropped beets.
I camp at Bear Paw Campground and make a campfire for the first time since I started this trip. Everything is going to smell like smoke for a while. It reminds me of Lagavulin Islay single malt scotch which Ron Swanson described as tasting “like a delicious campfire.” Never mind that I’m actually sipping Jameson Black Barrel.