I couldn't wait to arrive at my next stop, Cleveland. After enjoying pancakes and homemade maple syrup with my host I hit the road. He needed to do some grocery shopping so he joined me for the first ten miles or so. For the first time on my ride I had a companion. We headed West.
As we rode I noticed what appeared to be some sort of smoke stack. Richard informed me that it was actually a nuclear energy plant. It pumped out a thick stream of water vapor. Riding through this middle-America town and seeing the nuclear plant in the distance couldn't help but to remind me of the Simpsons. I'm sure there is some Homer Simpson in that plant who is just one doughnut away from causing a meltdown. Luckily, everything seemed to be working as planned.
The plant resided in the town of Perry. Richard told me that the town's residents received a host of benefits for accommodating the plant, including free trash collection and support for their schools. All of these incentives ended up improving property values in the town. It seemed like the decision to house a nuclear plant was a positive one for the town. It did make me wonder, however. Was the deal they received too good to be true? Were the incentives designed to make them overlook the immense risks they had taken on? I guess the market said no, but I wondered still.
Richard turned off our route. I was back on my own. I was led to Lakeshore Boulevard. It was a 20-mile stretch of road paralleling the Erie Coast. It offered glimpses of the Lake as it directed me past waterfront real estate. I was pleased to find that large swaths of the Boulevard had a dedicated bike lane. I was in good spirits as I approached Cleveland.
I saw the skyline in the distance. Clouds hung low over the city, shrouding the tops of Cleveland's taller buildings. My only real impression of this place so far was that it was so...damn...gray.
I rode up to The Cleveland Hostel, located by the trendy West Side Market in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. The strip it was on felt a lot like many of the rapidly gentrifying areas I've seen in DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and elsewhere. You had remnants of the city's past; liquor stores, check cashing services, Chinese food restaurants; abutting modern developments; breweries, high-end restaurants, fancy apartments. The area was nice. In all honesty it felt a bit too familiar.
That night I got mediocre food at a trendy, overpriced restaurant in my neighborhood (again, all too familiar). The highlight was watching the Cavs play the Pistons in round 1 of the NBA playoffs. People got moderately into the game. In hindsight, I should have gone to Quicken Loans Arena. There was a public viewing party for the game there. That's where I would have found the real Cleveland homers. I wanted to see some obnoxious super fans. Instead all I got was a bunch of yuppy transplants. For whatever it's worth, I had a chill first night in Cleveland.