There’s a new sight on America’s highways. On 18-wheelers, on the backs of tractor trailer rigs, you’re beginning to see bicycles.
GELLERMAN: Scott Grenerth - yup, that’s his real name - Grenerth - owns and operates an 18-wheeler, which he drives cross-country hauling thousands of pounds of cargo, and something lightweight, which most truckers don’t carry. We caught up with Scott Grenerth as he was driving somewhere along the interstate near Columbus, Ohio.
GRENERTH: Well, at the moment I'm empty. I just got my truck fixed over what was my weekend - Monday and Tuesday - and I’m heading up to pick up 32,000 lb. coil of steel, going from AK Steel in Mansfield, Ohio, down to AK Steel in Rockport, Indiana.
GELLERMAN: Now, on the back of your 18-wheeler, you’re carrying a 2-wheeler - a bike!
GRENERTH: Yeah, you could say I’ve got 20 wheels. (Laughs.) Yes, I do. I carry ... inside my trailer, I’ve got a spot where I put the bike, and I put a strap through the frame of it, and it goes with me.
GELLERMAN: How long have you been doing that?
GRENERTH: Just about coming up to three years ago now.
GELLERMAN: What kind of bike you got?
GRENERTH: It’s actually a custom made bike. It’s a frame from sometime back in the 80s, and it’s enormous. I, I’ll let you know, I’m six feet nine inches tall, so it’s a one of a kind bike.
GELLERMAN: Tell me how it works. Where do you ride?
GRENERTH: Almost all drivers take a 34-hour break so that we can kind of reset the number of hours we’re allowed to drive throughout the week. That’s when I ride most often, but there are times I’ll do it during the week, too.
As far as where, I like to find the unique local places - historical sites, great blues music, or some good, local microbrew if I’ve got enough time off and definitely, definitely food. It’s definitely different than just sitting around at the truck stop and complaining. Which, unfortunately, you do find a lot of drivers that do that, and they just don’t think about getting out of the cab of the truck and leaving the truck stop behind. To me, while there are plenty of good truck stops, like the one I go to in Nashville - the TA there - great, really first class facility, real nice spot.
I still ... I'd rather go see the local flavor, because a lot of drivers, I think it’s very fair to say, a lot of drivers became a truck driver because they wanted to go see the world, if you will, or see the country. And while you can do a lot of that - see a lot of beautiful sights from the cab of your truck - I’d also say you can see the country a whole lot better if you get away from the truck stop and go where the locals hang out at.
Like, in Louisville, Kentucky, there’s a neighborhood called “Old Louisville” and there are these beautiful, gorgeous alleys through that little area - almost looks like a picture of Europe, if you will.
GELLERMAN: Must be a real change of pace going from 65 miles an hour down to, you know, a pokey 10 or 15.
GRENERTH: It’s a good change of pace. Because I'm an owner-operator, I've got the repair bills for a radiator and a fifth-wheel I just had to get repaired; I wouldn’t mind going for a ride right about now, after signing the receipt for that bill. (Laughs.)
GRENERTH: So anyhow, yes - it’s a good change of pace.
GELLERMAN: So you’ve kind of become an evangelist for the trucker-biker.
GRENERTH: Yeah. First I just kind of meet a few people through other drivers I knew. That’s what inspired me to put together a website which is rideandroll.me. On that website, there is a map - a Google map - that shows places you can safely and legally park your truck and have somewhere interesting to ride nearby.We also have a Facebook group.
GELLERMAN: Yeah, I noticed, because I went to your Facebook page and it shows a lot of tricks of the ride trade - you’ve got bike stores, you've got conversations about routes. I like the trucker who was from Logan, Utah - he writes: “Even the coolest bar has a bike rack out front and a rooftop view of the mountains.” (Laughs).
GRENERTH: Yes, that would probably be Jeff Clark; I think he was just out there recently and he's just like me, he'll find a good local microbrew. We ride to find good food and good brew. And so, it’s become a really active community there. And so we get questions about all that - how do you carry the bike in the truck? Do you carry it on the truck?
We had a comment on there - probably a month or so ago - a gal who said ... she just admitted, "I’m very overweight. I really need to lose weight and I think this is the best way to do it. Any suggestions?" I think hardly a day goes by where we don’t get at least one new person.
GELLERMAN: What kind of reaction do you get from talking to other truckers about your rides?
GRENERTH: So, most of the time it’s very, very positive. And they immediately go, "You know, that would be great - to get away from the truck stop, and that would be some exercise," because it’s low impact. And that’s what a lot of drivers need because they’re in poor shape to begin with - it’s not like they can just start, you know, running marathons.
And as a matter of fact, that brings up one point: the people who are going to be listening to Living on Earth, probably not going to be 100 percent truck drivers. But the likelihood that they know someone who is a truck driver, that’s huge, because of all the drivers we do have in this country. And if they could pass the word on and say: "Hey, have you ever thought about doing this?" and give them that resource; that would be most awesome. If people could do that, that would be great!
GELLERMAN: Scott, before I let you go, you’ve got to tell us your name: Grenerth. I’ve never heard somebody with the name Grenerth.
GRENERTH: There’s a reason for that - my wife and I are the first Grenerths that there are. I’ve worked in the field of environmental education and I still volunteer in that field. So when we got married on Earth Day in 1995, at a cave in a state park in Ohio, that’s the name we took on. It is Grenerth.
GELLERMAN: Scott Grenerth is a long-haul trucker operating out of Ohio. For links to his website and Facebook page, check us out at LOE dot org. Hey, Scott…
GELLERMAN: Keep on biking!
GRENERTH: I will. You bet. Absolutely!
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