In 1977, with no real understanding of what we were getting into, a buddy and I set off on a cross country trip. We started in Tampa and bought everything we thought we needed there. That included a 1976 Schwin Super LeTour 12 speed, soft sided panniers and all the camping gear. We rode around Tampa for a couple of weeks and then we were off. In retrospect we were so underprepared it was funny. We had no helmets (not readily available then), mirrors, bike shorts or shoes. We just started chugging up the highway figuring we'd get to Seattle (our final destination) eventually.
Almost immediately we realized we made a significant miscalculation: we were heading into the prevailing winds. Our first few days were miserable. We made no more than 30 miles a day for more than a week. Finally the winds subsided and on day 15 we finally rolled out of Florida and into Alabama. On that day we also had a major wreck in Mobile going around the bay and if it wasn't for a contact in New Orleans our trip would have been over then and there. We were rescued and after a week in New Orleans (it could be worse), we were off again.
We travel thru Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, frequently following the Bike Centennial route. We crossed the contential divide at Hoosier Pass at over 11,000 feet and coasted into Breckenridge later that day. We rode for several more days, but it was still early May and we ran into snow. After holing up in a motel for two days we packed up our bikes and took a bus to Boise, ID.
In Boise we reassembled our bikes and rode to a place in south east Washington; I think it was called Jordan Valley (which was ironic since it seemed to be on the top of a mountain). There we meet up with serveral female friends and spent a couple of days. As we were getting ready to leave a local came up to us and asked if we were heading to Seattle. Seems he had a pickup truck he needed delivered there and he did not want to drive it himself. We threw our bikes in back and completed our trip.
We got across country, pedalled over 2000 miles in seven weeks and I swore I'd never get on a bike again.
Fast foward 25 years and I'm back on my bike again. After many years of living the life of a sloth, I got back on a bike again this year and found the spark that got me on my bike originally. The Super LeTour is long gone - I've got a Jamis Aurora now and I look forward to many years touring again.
My current goal is ride the north shore of Lake Erie from Windsor to Fort Erie in 2005. Hoping to find others to join me.