Terry's Cross Country Bike Trip, August/September 1986

In May, 1986, my wife and I were having dinner with our neighbors, Mary and Andy, at a local Chineese restaurant. At some point durning the dinner, Andy told us he was thinking about bicycling across the US and asked if I'd be interested in coming along. Without giving it much thought (and certainly the wine had nothing to do with it), I answered "yes". I'm sure I'd forgotten all about it when he called the next day and asked if I was serious about the ride. Well, one thing led to another and on August 2, 1986, we set out on what was to be an incredibe bicycle journey across the United States. I think the fact that I'm updating this web page in September of 2009 shows you what a lasting impression that trip had on me. Hardly a week has gone by over the last 20+ years that something hasn't triggered a memory of that ride, be it a story in the news, a glance at a map or the bicycle hanging in my garage.

August probably wasn't the best time to start a bike journey across the California and Arizona desert, but fortunately my wife drove a "support vehicle" the first week of the trip to carry our panniers, provide us with water on those 100+ degree days and generally help out. After that, we were on our own, fully self contained and fortunately, most of the time riding in much more comfortable weather. In 2009, it's hard to imagine that we did a trip like this without cell phones, digital cameras and a GPS unit, certainaly must-have items if doing the trip now, but we got along without them just fine. Back then, it was pay phones, mailing film in for processing and the map from the AAA.

Here's a small file (170KB) that when downloaded and unzipped, will open up in Google Earth (assuming you have it installed on your computer) showing the detailed route of our trip. For a detailed description of the ride, here are the unedited pages from my daily journal.

Below are some pictures from the trip, you can click on them for a larger image.

One final note....if you're reading this page because you're thinking about making a cross country bike trip yourself, I've just got one piece of advice....DO IT!! It's an incredible adventure that you will not soon forget.

DAY 1: Aug 2,1986 Leave Yorba Linda, California
DAY 4: Early crossing into Arizona to avoid daytime heat.
DAY 7: Arrival at Grand Canyon. Goodby to Marie.
DAY 11: Four Corners Front wheel-AZ; rear wheel-UT; left foot-NM; right foot-CO
DAY 12: Pass through corner of New Mexico
The only view that didn't change for 3000 miles

DAY 12: Enter Colorado
DAY 16: Wolf Creek Pass. Highest point of trip at 10,850 feet.
DAY 20: Entering Kansas. Flat and Friendly
Flat tire. Between the two of us, we only had four
DAY 25: Missouri
The long and hilly road

DAY 30: Crossing the Mississippi into Illinois. No time for a "state sign" picture on this bridge.
Another porch, must be lunch time!
DAY 31: Into Kentucky
Ah, the greenery. Oh yeah, agh, the humidity.
DAY 35: Tennessee
"Camping" in the Galax town gym.....
and a firehouse in Martinsville.

This is how we camped the rest of the time.
DAY 37: Just one more state to go.
DAY 42: Sept.12,1986 Virginia Beach, Virginia
3003 miles in 42 days. This picture was taken at 10am, I was on a plane headed home at 1pm.

Read my daily "journal" from the trip.
Download trip route. Opens in Google Earth.

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last update 11/2013