10 Things You Didn't Know about the 1976 Bicentennial Trans-Am Ride

July 29, 2015

When Life Member and Tour Leader Steve Powell wanted to make a donation, he had some unique criteria.

He wanted to pay membership fees for every year between Adventure Cycling’s start in 1976 to when he became a member in 2006. My job, as development coordinator, was to dig through old Adventure Cyclists (then called BikeReport) and find the memberships rates for each year.

In 1977, 38% of Adventure Cycling members were students.

Before we were Adventure Cycling, we were Bikecentennial. In 1976, Bikecentennial organized over 4,000 riders to cycle the TransAmerica Trail. While looking through the non-digital archives, I found ‘Trans-America Trail News,’ a series of bulletins distributed to cyclists at Bike-Inns and campsites along the route. The following clips came from these bulletins written by Bikecentennial/Adventure Cycling Association's 1976 staff.

from BikeReport Fall/1975

10. As it turns out, $5 a day is not enough money to live on when you’re cycling all day.

Apparently, of that $5 almost all was going to pies, pizza, and beer.

And some turned to this:

9. Along the way, there were bears, dogs, and thieving pack rats.

8. There were some poems written along the way.

7. There were some good bikes and there were some bad bikes.

6. And there were a few car/bike interactions.

5. There were environmentally-minded folks on the trip and a few amateur archeologists.

Unfortunately, the toe bone has been lost in various moves but it is most likely in the basement or under a pile of papers on Greg's desk.

4. It wasn’t all fun, sunny days of biking. Snow. In. July.

3. If the snow didn’t dampen your spirits, maybe the dysentery will.

2. How should you celebrate the country’s 200th birthday when biking across the country? Ride a mile for every year!

1. Each group carried a ceremonial golden spoke that was then threaded onto the golden wheel in Pueblo, Colorado. But as always on a bike trip, everything you carry should have more than one purpose.

Feeling nostalgic? In case you haven’t heard, our 40th Anniversary is next year! Help us celebrate in Missoula!

Interested in making a donation like Steve Powell? We'll do the heavy lifting of calculating the yearly member prices between 1976 and when you joined Adventure Cycling. We'll even give you the student rate for the years you were in university! Email me at acypher@adventurecycling.org

all illustration by Greg Siple

all Trans-American Trail News clips by Charlie Seastone and Bikecentennial staff

running commentary by April Cypher



Bob Beam March 17, 2018, 10:20 AM

I was a member of ITAWB608, I was 17 at the time and rode from Oregon to Virginia. Had a great time and will always cherish the memories. I still have my Peugeot PX-10 that I rode across on.

Paul September 1, 2015, 8:33 AM

My favorite people along the way - Lazy Louie and the Cookie Lady!

Dolly Craft August 23, 2015, 7:45 PM

Really bummed that I can't get the photos to load! Suggestions??

Annette Stahelin August 24, 2015, 12:45 PM

Hi, Dolly- you can now see the photos! Sorry about that!

Bob Brown August 21, 2015, 5:02 PM

Best laugh I've had all day Numbers 9, 8, 6, 4, 3 brought back happy memories. (They may not have been so happy at the time.)

Darrel Drown August 19, 2015, 1:00 PM

My brother, friend and I rode the 76 trail, Astoria to Yorktown, as independents(not part of any group). We consumed more calories than can be counted but I still lost 16 pounds on the trip. Don't remember missing too many Pizza shops or beer halls and our tab came to about $8/day. Best $8 dollars I've ever spent.

Jason July 30, 2015, 4:58 AM

I remember the the first Bikecentennial as I head friends who went to it.

Diane Reese July 29, 2015, 9:12 PM

We (1TAEK531) rode a westbound century in Kansas on the Bicentennial and passed the double-century group around 10am on July 5th, all still sleeping at their campsite (well deserved!).

Allen Rider July 29, 2015, 1:33 PM

wondering if that was "Stormin Norman"???? we were excited to meet our "sister" group in Kansas...we did....they'd didn't seem to be in a partying mood like we were!!!! (1ftawk51976}...Chris locke was a master at finances....we got a refund on our last day...we ate well....set records at Quatrros in Carbondale for pizza and beer...rode hard...consumed massive calories!!!

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