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Friday, June 20, 2008


Our ride has been quickly transitioning from pretty rural, hilly, and nature-filled parts of Western Pennsylvania into a stretch of flat, suburban, strip-mall-filled, stripped-down-in-general Eastern Ohio.

It was pretty amazing to see how acute the change is from one state to another. I don't know how the border between Pennsylvania and Ohio was set up, but I bet it has to do with topography. The second we hit the Ohio border, the mountains and hills ceased. Unfortunately, so did the friendly drivers, relative lack of billboards, and wide shoulders on the road.

It might be the region that we're in, but so far, Ohio seems to be one big circular sprawl after another, connected tangentially by small strips of farmland around the circumference. Ugly, but also an interesting model of how communities are laid out in outwardly cascading rings, where population exponentially decreases and land increasingly opens up. At the epicenter lies a town center/city/urban area, outside this nucleus is concentrated suburbia, further lies a ring of more spread out suburbia/planned communities, and beyond this exists farmland and rural areas. I know it sounds plainly obvious, but having lived in pretty big towns and cities all my life, it is enlightening to bike right across one of these "societal circles" from end to end (i.e. beginning and ending with farmland, with a fat dose of city in the middle).

Well, today, I actually was sitting shotgun in our support van on the ride, for reasons I won't delve into. But I was thinking about everything I just above, and thought it'd be cool to do a bit of photographic documentation with a scientific twist, by taking a photo every mile or so as we made our way from rural Ohio, about 20 miles outside of our destination town of Akron, into the center of the city. Experiment #1 didn't go so well for a couple reasons- I lost track of mileage and I learned we are staying outside of 'downtown' Akron. But now I'm excited to try it again. I like the constant of always seeing the van's side view mirror, and leaving the variable up to the Ohio community.

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