Total Miles: 2200
Rider: James Blodgett; Engineer, Member.
Summary: In 1976 I rode the western half of the Transam as an independent rider; Self-Planned
Health Issues: This was before the days of good sunscreen and I got seriously sunburned on a few occasions. My lips in particular were badly burned.
Motivation: This was the inaugural of the Transam and I was excited to be part of something big. I only had about a month and a half so I rode as an independent and went as far as I could before I ran out of time. I started in Astoria, OR and left the trail somewhere south of Fairplay, CO. At first I camped, but then starting staying in the Bike-Inns that had been set up along the route. I rode a good part of the route with two other independents, Rob Bedichek, and Ted Bedows. Where are you guys now?
Most Challenging Aspect:Hell's canyon. I was just a kid from Vermont, and I had never experienced temperatures like that. I think it hit something like 110 F in the Canyon. Before riding out of the canyon, I got the idea to put on my arm and leg warmers and then get soaking wet in the river. I thought that would keep me cool, I rode out like that. Silly, huh?
Favorite Experience: Rob, Ted and I rode into Jackson, MT late in the afternoon one day. We hung out at Rosie's restaurant for a couple of hours listening to Eddie Arnold on the jukebox singing "The Cattle Call." Then we decided we had better move on but the sky was looking sort of ominous. We asked if there was anywhere we could camp in town. One of the locals hanging out at Rosie's said that there was this abandoned and derelict hot springs resort across the road that we might use. A couple of the locals went across the street with us and found a way into the building. We wandered around the vacant building and decided to put our sleeping bags up on the balcony that overlooked the road. That night it just poured. About 4 or 5 am, we were woken by noise outside and we got up and looked outside. There was a cattle drive in the pouring rain, complete with cowboys wearing chaps riding horses, right through the center of town. There must have been a couple of hundred head of cattle. A most memorable experience. Eighteen years later (1994), my wife and I rode the transam again, and were amazed to find that the hot springs resort had re-opened. I went in and looked around. It just seemed unreal to see what had been an abandoned and dilapidated building full of people and in the full swing of things again.
Least Favorite: On the first 2 days of the trip, I rode off and on with a young woman that started the same day. She had a bad crash somewhere near Cannon Beach, Oreqon. She was not wearing a helmet (none of us were in those days) and was seriously injured. She was taken to Portland hospital and the last I heard she was expected to live. I never heard from her again.
Tips: I have bicycle toured my entire adult life, and although heart surgery has slowed me down a bit, I still do it. It has been a life transforming experience and I recommend it to others. The worst part of the Transam (or any other route) is the end, where you have to get off your bike and go back to your "normal" life. One last thing. I still ride the same bike I did in 1976. I have gone through several sets of wheels, gears, saddles, etc. , but it is the same frame. It still has the Bikecentennial '76 sticker that I put on it in 1976.
Date Entered: May, 2006
Photo by Dennis Coello