TransAmerica Bicycle Tour — 1984

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Yorktown, Va., to Oceanside, Calif.
68 days
3,989 miles

May 13, 1984 – July 19, 1984

See the daily journal index below

I always get a little distracted when May rolls around. It seems that no matter what I’m doing, a part of my brain is spinning to remember what I was doing at this time in 1984.

That’s the year my friend Bruce and I took leaves of absence from our jobs and began a cross-country bicycle trek on May 13.

We’d met at a newspaper job and became friends. Neither of us were particularly athletic, but we did enjoy bicycling. A week-long loop in Virginia one year was followed by a bicycle tour along Lake Champlain and up to Montreal the next.

I seem to remember the idea of a TransAmerica ride hit us at a party while a bottle of Yukon Jack lubricated our bearings, but it took a couple of years for us to bring it to fruition. We bicycled for 10 weeks from Yorktown, Va., to Oceanside, Calif., using maps provided by Bikecentennial, a group formed to encourage cycling during the 1976 Bicentennial. That group is still around; it’s called the Adventure Cycling Association.

We both kept journals, and now I have a chance to do something with them. I’ll be posting the Reader’s Digest version of our scribblings on a daily basis over the next 10 weeks. I’ll post that day’s journal entry on the main page, then move it inside a few days later to the TransAmerica Tour 1984 blog folder.

I’ve checked out journals online, like those in Crazy Guy on a Bike, and a lot has remained the same in the intervening 26 years. For instance, everyone still talks about the Cookie Lady, the trains passing through the city park in Sebree, Ky., and the good pies in Kansas.

A lot has changed, though. The biker’s hostel in Elk Garden, Va., used to be a log cabin, but is now a brick building. Lazy Louie’s bike camp in Missouri is long gone, but there are other folks along the route who regularly entertain bicyclists.

Please feel free to comment, especially if you’ve pedaled the route since 1984. I’d be interested in your impressions.

Start at the journal entry for Day 1, or go to the weblog for TransAmerica Tour 1984

Daily journal index:

Virginia

Day 1: Dude, Where’s my campground?

Day 2: First roadside attraction — Shirley Plantation

Day 3: Still a shakedown cruise

Day 4: Give me cycling or give me death

Day 5: Discovering gravity the hard way

Day 6: Rest day; mailing gear back home

Day 7: Climb a mountain, get a cookie

Day 8: Natural Bridge seems so unnatural

Day 9: Tired, tarred and dogged

Day 10: Dick Boyles, where are you?

Day 11: Fellow travelers, different paths

Day 12: We meet the Rev

Day 13: That’s the Breaks

Day 14: A salute from King Coal

Kentucky

Day 15: Hill Hell

Day 16: A good welcome to Berea

Day 17: Not everyone welcomes bicycle tourists

Day 18: The fragrance of good home cooking

Day 19: Abe born here, honestly

Day 20: “Just about right!”

Illinois

Day 21: Pirates, bandits and skeeters

Day 22: Just like cowboys after a cattle drive

Day 23: Rest and repair

Missouri

Day 24: Clearing a path for the Olympic torch

Day 25: “Show me” some respect

Day 26: Ups and downs in the Ozarks

Day 27: Beautiful scenery and never-ending hills

Day 28: Lazy Louie’s Bicycle Camp

Day 29: Charmed by flat roads

Kansas

Day 30: Kansas is big state to lose partner in

Day 31: Shortcut proves hazardous

Day 32: Limping Across Kansas

Day 33: Don’t fence us in

Day 34: Eating across Kansas

Day 35: Go West young men!

Colorado

Day 36: Can’t stop cycling

Day 37: Well-housed in Pueblo

Day 38: Just hanging out

Day 39: Entering Rockies — it’s all uphill now

Day 40: Running the Arkansas River — upstream

Day 41: Up and over at Monarch Pass

Day 42: Fellow travelers in stunning landscapes

Day 43: By bike and train over the San Juans

Day 44: Using a pickup instead of  bikes at Mesa Verde; bad move

Day 45: This drink tastes better than Gatorade

Day 46: Back and forth over Divide at Chama

New Mexico

Day 47: Flat near Taos, but not Kansas anymore

Day 48: Like being south of the border

Day 49: Walking around Santa Fe

Day 50: Bicycling the Turquoise Highway

Day 51: We run out of options, camping in the desert

Day 52: Cycling through reservation lands

Day 53: Celebrating the Fourth in Navajo Nation

Arizona

Day 54: We learn about Navajo code talkers

Day 55: Our cross-country tribe grows

Day 56: Ritual and conflict in Hopi – Navajo lands

Day 57: Camping at the edge of the Grand Canyon

Day 58: On foot in the Grand Canyon to Dripping Springs

Day 59: Through hail to Flagstaff

Day 60: Stuck in Flagstaff again

Day 61: We find a leech after crossing Verde River

Day 62: Ghostly visions pedaling uphill to Jerome

Day 63: The toad in the desert puddle

Day 64: I can feel the heat on my eyelids

Day 65: We find an air-conditioned oasis in desert at Stone Cabin

California

Day 66: Strange lights in the California desert

Day 67: Final toasts in the glow of a Coleman latern

Day 68: End of the road

Postscript: The tour comes full circle

Back to Biking Bis main page.

Attila Horvath

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/transamerica-bicycle-tour-1984/

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