Every summer we enjoy the parade of bicycle travelers who drop by our office here in Missoula, Montana. These cyclists come from all over the world. Their variety of style, equipment, route, and purpose is endless.
In 1982, Greg Siple began recording our visitors on film and asking them to tell their stories, creating Adventure Cycling's National Bicycle Touring Portrait Collection. The Open Road Gallery features selections from this collection in Adventure Cyclist magazine and here on our website.
Riding across the country with a group of strangers can be one of the most rewarding and challenging adventures that a cyclist can have. People of different ages, abilities, nationalities, and professions all come together to travel through heat, cold, rain, hail, and wind. As Bill Lenehan (back, second from right) says, “To make a trip across the U.S. one has to have a strong personality. To bring 15 similar people together and function as one cohesive group is challenging.”
When Steve Cash and Ben Kelchlin started talking about bicycling across the country, they wanted it to be more than just a bike trip; they wanted to leave their mark as well. So they decided to plant trees along the way. They made their trip in 2007.
It’s the TransAmerica Trail at its best — as the venue for a journey of adventure and discovery by four young women, two of them sisters, with the foresight to seize a moment in their lives that may well be unique, a moment when they are free to wander across the nation without obligations (except to call home every night) and without a schedule.
Most of the cyclists that are profiled in our portrait collection are, well, let’s just say that they’ve been able to vote in more than a few elections. So to try to even the score we feature this group of forty-plus elementary school students.
This vibrant group of 22 young riders rode into the Adventure Cycling office on July 3, 2007. Their 3800-mile, nine-week, 14-state trek from Seaside, Oregon, to Plymouth, Massachusetts was focused on raising awareness and funds to combat Duschenne Muscular Dystrophy.
When most families decide to move across the country, they hire movers and then drive to their new home. Elizabeth, Kate, and Ron Nunes of Jacksonville, Florida, were making a cross-country move in 2006 to Poulsbo, Washington, and decided that the best way to get to their new home was to ride their bike. While it’s not often that folks move to their new home on a bike, it’s even more rare when the whole family can do it on one bike, a triplet.
Leila Barker had only ever taken one bike trip before 2005, a weeklong family trip in northern Pakistan. Her father was the impetus behind that journey, she was only fourteen at the time, but the memories from that trip helped inspire this one.
Ed and Pat Krebs are truly dedicated cyclists. These former members of the Pennsylvania state legislature decided to retire early with a bit less so that they could ride their bike more.
“A fine family adventure to say the least. My wife and I, three of our five children, and a family friend rode three tandems 4,518 miles from Oregon to Virginia on the Transamerica Trail. People all across America recognized us as a family, and were always cordial and open to us. The most common comment was not about our derring-do, but what a wonderful experience it was for the children. Indeed, my wife and I independently told several people that the high point of our trip was how beautifully the children did. The rigors of the trip seemed to answer some of those frightening questions of inadequacy that haunt the young — they all grew in size and confidence as the trip went along. We had the rewarding experience of seeing our children deal with the rigors of the trip with a healthy reserve of resourceful good nature and determination.” - Charles Dukes, 1986
It was early in the year for a westbound cross-country cyclist to show up at the Adventure Cycling office, arriving at our door on May 15th of 2005. Kenichi Ikeda, or Ken, as we called him, started this trip four years earlier in August of 2001 from his hometown of Sapporo, Japan. Before North America he had ridden across Asia and Europe, pedaling the entire distance through countries like China, Pakistan, and Iran.