The Great America Bicycle Tour: a vintage ride between the oceans

In 1975 twelve students went on a promotional bike tour across the United States and experienced the beauty of eco-travelling combined with great team spirit.

Remember when long distance cycling wasn’t all about determined competition but being part of a great experience, closely attached to nature? In the summer of 1975 twelve college students started this unique adventure: The Great America Bicycle Tour.

Setting off from New York City they dipped the back wheels of their bikes into the Atlantic Ocean and headed west. They cycled through the Great Plains, crossed the Rockies with its brusque mountains and steep valleys and made it through the western deserts. Finally, after almost 4.000 miles, they dipped their front wheel into the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco Bay. According to the cyclists, a challenge for body and mind that connected them as a team.

The department-store chain JC Penney sponsored the youngster’s bike journey between the seas to promote their new disc brake equipped bikes produced by Huffy Manufacturing. Clearly no comparison to the high-tech used today in professional cross country biking. (“Bike Noob” references to the tour and gives an insight into the clothing and equipment used.) On their way through the country the students stopped at 37 locations to perform bike safety workshops.

Besides the gear, the tour also advertised an alternative way of travelling: more ecological than crossing a country by car. That’s probably why no motor vehicles, except the van carrying spare equipment, are seen in this video.

One of the cyclists stressed the special atmosphere during the ride: “The scenery is so fantastic when you are on a bicycle, you notice every detail. You smell the smells around you, you can feel the cold and the warmth. You feel so much closer to the earth.”

Have you ever done a long distance bike tour like this? Where was it and what did you experience?

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