Winter in Rochester has been a bit colder than normal and we’ve had an unusual bit of snow, but nothing catastrophic. Ski conditions have been great and the FatBike scene in Rochester has exploded with rides and races and general good fun all around. Things are looking great!
So it’s with no hesitation that I step out of town for a bit on my next adventure …
I’m co-leading one of Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Tier tours from San Diego California to St. Augustine Florida. I was dreaming of an opportunity like this when I “retired” at the end of August last year and as luck would have it, that magical call came just a couple months ago.
I’ve been working furiously on a lot of preparations and planning for the adventure, getting to know my co-leader Paul and our band of gypsies via a group email list, and thinking a lot about which bike in the stable is going.
Back in the summer of 1976, while I was still committed to duty in the Coast Guard, a magical event called “BikeCentennial” was going on as a celebration of the county’s 200th birthday. People were riding bikes … imagine this … across the country!! I was broken hearted that I couldn’t be a part of it. I had already been bike touring before then and just felt like the party ship was leaving without me.
I resolved to do it myself as soon as I got out of the Coast Guard the following year. I even got myself set up to get out earlier than planned by taking “terminal leave” … saving two years worth of vacation and taking it all at once right at the end of enlistment. That would set me free in July, rather than September. Perfect!
I had a perfectly good touring bike already, but decided it was time to do things right and go full custom. Working with a local frame builder, I designed my own bike, had it built to spec, painted in a beautiful deep blue Imron, got all the components, and had the new baby ready for the adventure just in time!
But, my lack of experience driving in winter snows bit me the winter before. I borrowed a friend’s pickup truck, slipped on “the Can of Worms” as it was called in Rochester legends, and wrecked it. Dumb kids as we were, it wasn’t insured and I paid for repairs out of pocket.
Between that expense, and getting the bike built, I left the Coast Guard early as planned with a gorgeous new bike … and nearly broke.
No Trans-Am in ’76 … no Trans-Am in ’77 either! The new blue bike would have to wait.
Years passed, the blue bike did several other tours between vacations and between jobs, but there was never the right combination of enough money and enough time to do the Trans-Am it was built for.
A Trans-Am finally DID happen in 2004 when Karen and I decided to celebrate our tenth anniversary in the best possible way … on a tandem!
You can read about that adventure at
And by now, “Old Blue” had logged well over 70,000 miles between tours and club rides and commuting and endurance events. But it STILL never got to do a Trans-Am.
Old Blue is an antique now. Thirty-eight years of bicycling evolution have rendered it “non-upgradable”. It’s still a sweet sweet ride but it’s days as a heavy loaded touring bike are over as that function has been assumed by newer bikes in the stable. This last fall, Old Blue went on a diet, lost some weight, and now lives as a fire-breathing single speed with a flip-flop rear wheel. So, it’s really a TWO-speed bike that “shifts” by pulling the rear wheel, flipping it, and chaining up again.
And since this tour coming up is van-supported and doesn’t require hauling a load … Old Blue is GOING on a Trans-Am!
As it’s a working tour for me, I won’t have time to journal the trip as in the past, but I’ll still attempt to post notes or pictures once in a while on my “Track My Tour” site here:
The group meets in San Diego on Sunday, March 8th, and we hit the road Monday morning.
See ya’ll in May!