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Bikecentennial

Old 09-24-11, 10:10 PM
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Bikecentennial

Had dinner in town tonight with the wife and while walking around afterward ran into some folks from down our block. They were having ice cream and sitting on the sidewalk seating in front of the place. Don't know them well, but joined them and started jawing.

The annual block party was a couple of weeks ago ( close off the street and put out barbeques, keg, lawn furnature etc. - the adults sit around socializing and the kids get the glow in the dark necklaces and ride bikes in the dark without traffic - very fun for all)

Anyway - I didn't make it this year because I overdid it on a hard 80 mile ride after several sub par milage weeks. Was shot, incapable of socializing, and the last thing I needed at that point was a couple of beers.

Started explaining this to the guy down the street, and he offers up that he used to cycle. Matter of fact rode across the country. I asked what year and he said 1976. Having participated, I said Bikecentennial and predictably he said yes. Recounted memories and laughed about two guys on the same block having passed each other 35 years ago crossing the country in opposite direction. Had a good time talking memories and will get together to compare pictures of the trip.

Anyway it got me thinking - if there is a bikecentennial graduate on my block there must be some on the bikeforum touring forum.( I normally hang on the commuting forum)

So how about a shout out. Who participated ? When did you depart ? What direction did you go ?

I left on May 21 from Reedsport.
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Old 09-25-11, 12:58 PM
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I was prompted to read this post by the title because I have heard a lot about Bikecentennial, including as a contemporary touring cyclist in 1976. In 1977 my wife and I did a cross country tour from Los Angeles to Washington DC. In Garden City, KS we were approached in the city park by guy in his 20's who had ridden BC the previous year, and GC was his home. He showed us the sights and his family put us up for the night in an apartment above their jewelry store. Such is the fellowship of the Cross-Country Ride.

From the best I can tell, it looks like our routes crossed around Larned, KS. BTW, Bikecentennial has a Wikipedia entry.
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Old 09-26-11, 10:34 PM
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the closest I got to participating in bikecentennial is inviting participants to stay at my mom's house in Blacksburg. I always felt sorry for everyone who made it that far, they had all climbed an extra mountain because there weren't any other bike shops for many miles in either direction.
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Old 09-27-11, 11:51 AM
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I was only 12 in the summer of '76, but I know a guy who lives in my old 'hood here in Philly who was on one of the original rides. Several years ago a LBS had a "touring day." The guy brought in some cool slides from the trip. Crazy to see what today many would call "low tech" gear and bikes. And I don't think anyone had front panniers.
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Old 09-27-11, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
I was only 12 in the summer of '76, but I know a guy who lives in my old 'hood here in Philly who was on one of the original rides. Several years ago a LBS had a "touring day." The guy brought in some cool slides from the trip. Crazy to see what today many would call "low tech" gear and bikes. And I don't think anyone had front panniers.
Pretty funny to think how things have changed. I wore no helmet (like 98% of the other participants) cut-off jeans and running shoes -(many others did have cycling shorts and shoes - but the pad in the shorts was chamis and the shoes leather). No one had GPS, a cell phone or even that I can remember -a bike computer. Sometimes while descending in the Rockies someone in a car riding beside you would yell how fast you were going.
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Old 09-28-11, 05:35 AM
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in '76 I had just graduated from HS a couple years earlier and was working & going to college at nights. I remember my father pointing to an ad in some magazine for BC and I believe I sent for more information. But alas, I op'd to keep working and missed the chance to go. Young and stupid I guess, I saw $$$ as more important. My father, having more years & insight, knew what was more important. Should have listen to what he was saying. That's why now I encourage my kids to go do things before they are neck deep responsibilities.
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Old 09-28-11, 05:57 PM
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During the summer of 1976 I was working for the US Forest Service on a survey crew in the Ochoco National Forest in Oregon. I saw many of the BC riders making their way between Prineville and Mitchell, Oregon on US 26. Our survey crew spent some nights at the hotel in Mitchell when we had projects in the eastern Ochocos. We met a number of bikers who stayed at the hotel or camped out nearby. It looked like a lot of fun, but I didn't get to make the trip until I graduated from college in 1980.
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Old 09-28-11, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Ranger Dan
During the summer of 1976 I was working for the US Forest Service on a survey crew in the Ochoco National Forest in Oregon. I saw many of the BC riders making their way between Prineville and Mitchell, Oregon on US 26. Our survey crew spent some nights at the hotel in Mitchell when we had projects in the eastern Ochocos. We met a number of bikers who stayed at the hotel or camped out nearby. It looked like a lot of fun, but I didn't get to make the trip until I graduated from college in 1980.
only time in my life I kept a journal. Checked it to see if we crossed paths and it doesn't appear so

Day 5 (May 25) Had good weather for ride into Prineville. Got up in the morning and were treated to clear view of the Three Sisters Mountains - snow capped - much taller than the sourrounding mountains and volcanic. Today and last miles of yesterday marked end of Coastal Cascades and beginning of Columbia Plateau where trees are much smaller and land is much drier. Not many big hills today. Stopped in Redmond for cofffee and lost one glove. Five miles out realized it was missing -went back but couldn't find it. In Prineville we stayed in small white church - ate salad for supper. Ate breakfast next day in Martin's Chile Bowl cafe. Very small place and Martin is 78 years old. So many of us overwhelmed him and had to help him out. Got sunburned during day and broke rubber band that holds pannier down (tied it back together)

Day 6 (May 26) Very clear and very hot. Land gets drier still and in many places just sparsly covered by shrubs. Had to wear long pants because my legs were already badly sunburned. Satyed at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell (pop 200) - ate in local cafe. Lady who ran hotel talked of hunting coyotes and bobcats and fishing for trout. Very friendly hotel - more like a boarding house. During the ride had a steep 7.8 mile climb followed by fantastic 25.1 mile downhill - saw millions of prarrie rats. Night ended with me and Jack finishing off everyones beer and watching three inch slugs crawling around.
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Old 09-29-11, 01:52 AM
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This book is kind of a sad but still interesting twist on something that happened during the time of the BikeCentennial:

https://www.amazon.com/Strange-Piece-.../dp/0374134987
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Old 09-29-11, 10:09 PM
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The Bikecentennial organization morphed into being Adventure Cycling Association. They have a forum and have dedicated a section to that first summer of rides in 1976. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you folks that posted and you could find posts from others that were on those rides.
https://www.adventurecycling.org/foru...php?board=29.0

I was 15 that summer, but I couldn't scrape up the funds and probably wouldn't have gotten my parents permission to go. I did hold on to the dream, though, and finally rode coast to coast last year at the age of 49.

Last edited by EriktheFish; 09-29-11 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 09-30-11, 12:29 AM
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just looking at that forum, I wonder how many riders had a low gear of 42 front, 28 rear. Of course, I think we saw the bikes that caused the most trouble, but I guess that was typical. Most of them had pletcher-style racks that were overloaded.
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Old 09-30-11, 09:14 PM
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I was a 16 year old wannabe. Parents said no so I stayed home and smoked pot. A few years after I bought the bike centennial maps and rode lake Erie to Portland ME. I still have the maps and of course the memories of first great feeling of independence!
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Old 01-18-12, 11:53 AM
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1986 - Northern Tier
1989 - North Star

Anyone here on those?
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Old 10-17-21, 08:42 PM
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I rode east to west on the Bikecentennial Trans Am in 1976. Our group stayed at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell on August 25, on of our rare nights indoors and in a bed.
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Old 10-18-21, 04:49 AM
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I turned 25 in 1976 and was VERY excited about the possibility of riding bikecentennial. My brother and I talked and dreamed about it, but it didn't happen at least not then. I finally did ride the route in 2007, I was 31 years late. Better late than never I guess.

Bikecentennial has a 50th anniversary coming up in a few years. I am hoping that there will be some kind of celebration of the 150th 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the 50th of bikecentennial and that I at 75 will still be in good enough shape for another shot at a ride across the US.

Last edited by staehpj1; 10-18-21 at 05:42 AM. Reason: ​​​​​​​Edited to correct typo.
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Old 10-18-21, 05:34 AM
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I think you meant 250th. There is a fountain behind the Philly art museum commemorating the 150th. It was a birthday gift from Italy.
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Old 10-18-21, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by 76er
I rode east to west on the Bikecentennial Trans Am in 1976. Our group stayed at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell on August 25, on of our rare nights indoors and in a bed.
Heh. The place is still there. We stayed in Mitchell during Cycle Oregon 2002. The route that year used some of the Trans Am route. Except we camped on a dusty cattle ranch. It looked like a refugee camp in a drought stricken region of Africa.
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Old 10-18-21, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
I think you meant 250th. There is a fountain behind the Philly art museum commemorating the 150th. It was a birthday gift from Italy.
OOOPs. Yep. Too early in the morning I guess.
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Old 10-18-21, 06:08 AM
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I'd started my touring career in '76 with a 1000-miler around Lake Michigan from my home in Chicago. I honestly never heard about the BikeCentennial--I wasn't very plugged into the cycling scene back then, not until I met my wife three years later. She was much more serious about it than I. I was one of the guys in cut-off jeans and T-shirt, riding a Schwinn Continental. My buddy rode a Huffy. We'd never heard the words "pannier" or "chamois." Or Campangolo or Shimano.

I rode what was by then the TA route with my wife in 1996, when we were financially stable enough to leave work. It was the first of many early retirement trips.
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Old 10-18-21, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
I was only 12 in the summer of '76, but I know a guy who lives in my old 'hood here in Philly who was on one of the original rides. Several years ago a LBS had a "touring day." The guy brought in some cool slides from the trip. Crazy to see what today many would call "low tech" gear and bikes. And I don't think anyone had front panniers.
Yeah cool stuff actually. I'm suspect that front panniers were around in the late 70s, but they were popularized by Jim Blackburn I believe in the first half of the 80s. I was working in a shop then and Blackburn did a great job of using ads to dealing with the effect of weight placement on stability which claimed that rear panniers on a rack plus front panners on low riders was the best in terms of stability and handling. Of course today with backpacking bags there are arguably better ways to haul gear that will save weight. I did a 5000 mile tour in the early 80s with only rear bags and a front handlebar bag and one later that decade with low riders and the difference in handling and stability, particularly going downhill, was remarkable.

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Old 10-18-21, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I turned 25 in 1976 and was VERY excited about the possibility of riding bikecentennial. My brother and I talked and dreamed about it, but it didn't happen at least not then. I finally did ride the route in 2007, I was 31 years late. Better late than never I guess.

Bikecentennial has a 50th anniversary coming up in a few years. I am hoping that there will be some kind of celebration of the 150th 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the 50th of bikecentennial and that I at 75 will still be in good enough shape for another shot at a ride across the US.
I like this idea. I was too young to do the bikecentennial but I remember reading about it and thinking it was a great idea. Plus I'd read the '73 article in national geographic on the "hemisphere" tour that helped popularize bike touring. I loved that article.
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Old 10-18-21, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
I'm suspect that front panniers were around in the late 70s, but they were popularized by Jim Blackburn I believe in the first half of the 80s.
The memories in this thread are specific to the modern-era American bike scene - NTTAWWT. Here's cycletourist Victor Franco doing it French style while making a big loop of North America in 1950:




Certainly a rarity in NA until bikemig's mentioned time frame. My 1974 Two Wheel Travel Bicycle Camping and Touring list only Karrimor front rack and panniers.

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Old 10-18-21, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs
The memories in this thread are specific to the modern-era American bike scene - NTTAWWT. Here's cycletourist Victor Franco doing it French style while making a big loop of North America in 1950:


Yep, that's why I said that front panniers were around before 1976 but I think Blackburn popularized them. I toured in Europe extensively in the early 80s and front panniers were exceedingly rare. Also these are not low riders, right? I suspect Blackburn didn't invent the idea, but I'm fairly confident he popularized the idea.
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Old 10-18-21, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
Yeah cool stuff actually. I'm suspect that front panniers were around in the late 70s, but they were popularized by Jim Blackburn I believe in the first half of the 80s.
I think you're right about that timeline. In 1983 I rode the Bikecentennial "Great Parks Odyssey" (Durango > Jasper). Many of us had Blackburn high racks on the front. Occasionally we would see a bike with the cool new fangled "low riders" approaching from the opposite direction with bags appearing to be dragging on the road!

Our leader on the left, my bike on the right 1983 ...




One fellow in our group already had a low rider ...




By 1985 I had a low rider! ...

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Old 10-18-21, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by BobG


That looks the like the same ACA-supplied pot we had in '99.
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