The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Josh Cleveland and Dan Waggoner met by chance last Thursday, at Waggoner's Elmore Cycle and Fitness.

Cleveland, 28, was in dire straights and Waggoner was just the man to help him.

Cleveland was traveling the bike path near the Portage River in Elmore that took him to Waggoner's cycle shop at 453 Maple St. Cleveland is biking from his hometown of Winona, Minn., where he is a senior student at Winona State University, to Washington, D.C.

Problems with his bike, however, were putting a damper on the trip East. Cleveland was taking the bike path through Elmore all the way to Fremont, then through Clyde and Bellevue.

"I put two new wheels on his bike and I sold him some extra spokes and some tubes," Waggoner said. "The spokes had loosened up on the rear wheel. He called me at 7 o'clock and I drove over to Bellevue. He had a lot of weight on that rear end of the bike. It looked like he had 100 pounds of weight or so on that back end.

"He was here, and then he had to wait for me to bring wheels. My mechanic, Brian Burkett, was helping him here. I was doing work on his bike and he needed a wheel to match the back one. He was going on very low air pressure. I saw him in Bellevue and he said he loved the bike bath. It was a great diversion from riding on the roads."

Waggoner said Cleveland talked about his trip from Minnesota to D.C.

"He really is enjoying it," Waggoner said. "He's enjoying the people. He said how people would take him in and feed him and let him camp in their yard. He was a very enthusiastic young man. He didn't have a whole lot of money. I charged him for the wheels, but we didn't charge anything for the labor."
Cleveland is riding a 30-year-old, 10-speed Raleigh bicycle. He said he appreciated his chance meeting with Waggoner.

"He treated me above and beyond," Cleveland said. "Everybody in business needs to make a profit, but you can tell that's not his only motivation. He really did me right. I'm going to college for elementary education and I have one year left. I'm going on this trip on a real tight budget.

"I found this bike on the side of the road, and it was rough-looking. The back wheel looked like a banana and it didn't have any brakes, but I had a vision. I put some hard work into it and a couple weeks later it was ready for the trip. Here I am, 1,000 miles later. The Lord has put some amazing people in my path, and Dan was one of them."

Cleveland said he broke three spokes in two days early in his trip.

"Those Schwinn rims were old and not made to carry a heavy load," he said. "Dan got me into a new setup with stainless steel spokes. That's holding the load and it's staying true. I'm going down the road a lot better and making better time."

Cleveland, reached by phone while he was nearing the Allegheny Trail in Pennsylvania, said he's heading to Washington, D.C., to visit his sister and his 14-month-old nephew, Jack. He's been camping out along the way.

"I've always wanted to see what traveling cross country on a bicycle would be like," Cleveland said. "Every now and then there's been somebody who's been hospitable and brought me into their home and treated me above and beyond. (Tuesday) night was the first big rainstorm, just outside Beaver, Pa. The lightning sounded like gunshots."

On Wednesday, Cleveland estimated he had already biked more than 1,200 miles and his body was holding up well.

"I'm surviving on peanut butter and honey rollups, like a soft shell burrito," he said. "For potassium, I'll throw in a banana. The one thing I've been craving this whole trip has been ice cream. I've had butter pecan ice cream along the trip about twice a day. It seems like I can't get enough ice cream."

Cleveland, who one day hopes to become a school teacher "up in the bush" in Alaska, said the first five days of his trip were like a break-in period. He said it's been all downhill from there.
When he rode into Orrville, Ohio, Cleveland said a local farmer there allowed him to help deliver a baby calf.

"The cow had twins," Cleveland said, "and they named one after me. Both calves lived. It was pretty neat."

Cleveland said being on the road - especially on the highway, near fast-moving vehicles- is giving him more insight on just how fragile life can be.

"It's easy assuming you'll go through life to 70 or 80 years old," he said. "When you have semis going by you inches away from your shoulder, it makes you humble and makes you realize life is a gift. It can get kind of scary when a truck is right next to you and it's windy.

"I want to make the most of every moment, and I'm thankful for the breath in my lungs the Lord has given me and the protection he's given me."

Despite his newfound awareness, Cleveland said he will probably take a faster means of transportation back to Minnesota.

"The train," he said, "is sounding pretty good at this point."

Bill Cosby

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