This book is dedicated to my fellow cyclists Rip, Tom, and Bill, and to all the people who did the
Trans America Bicycle Trip.
My friends Bill Wagner, Jim "Rip" Morrison, and I were unloading tuna boats in the summer of 1973 in Astoria, Oregon. We worked side by side and would often talk about doing a cross country bicycle trip, but I don't think any of us actually believed that it would happen. Two years later in 1975, Bill contacted "Bikecentennial 76", a group of bicycle enthusiasts in Missoula, Montana. They were willing to give us their cross country bike maps in exchange for riding their route and phoning back information along the way. It was then we all decided to do the trip.
On June 12, 1975 we started from Astoria, Oregon to Eugene. From Eugene we traveled across Oregon and went through the pan-handle of Idaho into Missoula. We stayed there for a few days to talk with the "Bikecentennial 76" group and then headed into big sky country. We cut along the western edge of Wyoming through Yellowstone Park, and down through Colorado. From there we headed into Kansas and rode across the state in first gear because of an unexpected cross wind that lasted until we were well into Missouri. In August we landed in Carbondale, Illinois, where I had an apartment, and we spent some time relaxing and preparing ourselves psychologically for the rest of the trip. In September we began the last leg of our journey across Kentucky and Virginia. It was on October 23, 1975 when we finally completed the 4250 mile trip in Williamsburg, Virginia.
In the western states we managed to ride around 60 miles per day, but as we entered into the Midwest and eastern states we found we could only average 40 miles per day. We were on the road for 87 days, but with stops, and backtracking for the Bikecentennial 76 group, it was closer to five months before we completed the trip.
Everyone asks me about the bicycle and camera I used on the trip. My bike was a 10 speed Motobecane with SunTour components, (freewheel gear cluster for touring) Weinmann rims, and a "cherry" leather seat. The camera was a circa 1960 Widelux 35mm. It had a wind-up spring-loaded mechanism that rotated the lens across the film plane at various shutter speeds, slow, medium and fast. (1/10, 1/100, 1/250 ) The lens on the Widelux was a fix focus lens that wasn't very sharp by today's standards, and it had a slit behind it, a full range of aperture settings, and an angle of view of 140?. I used the camera for the sweeping panoramas that I encountered, and as a paint brush to convey the feeling of motion that is always a part of riding a bike.