August 10, 2016
When I was interviewing for my current job to plan and organize the 40th anniversary of Adventure Cycling, it dawned on me that I was born during Bikecentennial. If I were offered the job, I thought, I would get to plan the 40th anniversary of a monumental event in the same year of a big personal event: turning 40 years old.
It turns out I was offered the job, and now when I hear the stories and memories of Bikecentennial riders, I reflect on what the world was like the summer I joined it.
I often wonder where people were along the route on August 1, 1976, the day I was born. For example, according to Myrna Koffler’s journal, her group was nearing the end of her trip and rode an easy five hours from Charlottesville to Mineral, Virginia, and took time to tour Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello.
Bikecentennial strikes me as something my adventurous parents would have participated in, but it happened at an inopportune time for them. On the first Earth Day in 1970, my dad buried a car as a protest on his State University of New York at Oswego college campus. After the Kent State shootings that same year, when the U.S. colleges closed, my dad canoed to his parent’s house on Long Island, NY, through the Erie Canal, down the Hudson River, and even through the locks, which the lockmasters opened for him. My mom grew up in London but was compelled to visit the United States after being moved by the film Easy Rider. Her three-month cross country trip on a Greyhound bus turned into a permanent relocation to the United States.
In 1976, my parents, likely discouraged by the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, and concern for the environment, settled in Red Creek, NY as part of the back-to-the-land movement. They chose to live in a cabin built by my dad with no running water and a one-mile walk from the nearest road.
My parents have no memory of Bikecentennial, likely because they chose to sequester themselves from the world during those years. They had no television and my mom went to town to get the mail and do laundry once a week. Like some of their peers, my parents wanted to take a break from the world, be self-sufficient, and enjoy the simple things in life. In many ways, their values and lifestyle were similar to the Bikecentennial riders, many of whom wanted to experience adventure and enjoy the self-sufficiency and simplicity of bicycle travel.
What were you doing in the summer of 1976? If you weren’t born yet or were just born, like me, what were your parents doing? Please email email@example.com to share your story.
Photos courtesy of Caroline Dunn.
Adventure Cycling celebrated its 40th anniversary all year with National Bike Travel Weekend, the Montana Bicycle Celebration, and Bike Your Park Day. Look for National Bike Travel Weekend and Bike Your Park Day in 2017. Thank you to the 40th anniversary sponsors: Raleigh Bicycles, Montana Department of Commerce, Salsa Cycles, Advocate Cycles, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, Primal Wear, Visit Mississippi, Visit Idaho, Travel Oregon, Osprey Packs, Experience Plus!, Destination Missoula and Missoulian.
Find out more about Adventure Cycling’s generous sponsors.