"By Dave McGrath-Wagner"

A American cycling journey - part 1.
Riding from Reedsport, Oregon to Denver, Colorado
June 30-July 29, 1983

Reedsport, Oregon The coastal town of Reedsport, OR was the starting point for my two-stage solo Transamerica bicycle trip across our great nation. I took a Greyhound bus trip from San Francisco, CA to Reedsport, OR before starting the bicycle journey.
June 30th, Reedsport, OR-Oxbow Burn, OR, 42 miles I started the trip at 3:30 pm in the afternoon out of Reedsport, OR after I assembled my bicycle and got my panniers on the bicycle. Despite the increasing rains I was anxious to get things started. The first couple days on the road through the beautiful National Siuslaw Forest lands were great. I experienced thirst and hunger though but enjoyed the scenery. There were few places to stop and grab something to eat. The first bit of good news on the ride was that Oregon has no sales tax on items. The real price of a product was on the label. Now of course I figure they made up for things by raising the price. The scenery of floating rafts of logs, fast river streams and old covered bridges along the Smith river in the Siuslaw National Forest within Willimette Valley was lovely. The weather somehow created some lovely scenes of the mountains and hills just west of Eugene, OR. Due to some over-excitement getting on the road I forgot to stock up on food and water like I should have. I had little of anything to eat for the first day's ride from Reedsport, OR to Oxbow Burn, OR (Approx. 42 miles).
July 1 , Oxbow Burn, OR-Vida, OR An enjoyable day was spent cycling approximately 35 miles into Crow, OR where I munched down like a pig. Never again on the cycling trip did ever leave for my day's destination without my water bottles full and an emergency supply of gronola bars.
July 2, Vida, OR-McKenzie Pass, OR I started on the day's ride after spending a stormy night in a bus stop shed on the side of the road near Vida, OR. The journey on this day was to be one of the toughest rides of the first stage of the Transamerica crossing. I peddled into the breathtaking sites of the Cascades in Central Oregon. The morning ride took me along a damp road where people greeted me with thumbs up signs while they passed in their cars. Later in the afternoon I started my ascent up Dead Horse grade on Highway 42 (McKenzie Pass). The Pass proved to be steep and challenging riding with 45 to 40 pounds of gear in low weather temperatures. After a short while of grinding upward I was again greeted by seven bicyclists speeding down the hill going the opposite direction. One guy yelled out, "What a way to see America". I replied that I agreed and wished the passing cyclists the best of luck. It was always nice to encounter friendly people on the route and recieve encouragement from passing bicyclists. I made frequent stops to catch my breath and put water in my tank from the streams. The day's ride ended just below the submmit of McKenzie Pass at Frog Campground. It was a long stormy cold night's stay in my small pocket hotel tent.
July 3, McKenzie Pass, OR-Prineville, OR I woke up and unzipped my opening to the tent and saw clear blue skies and the sun just peaking over the summit. Yes indeed the rains had stopped finally after a few days. I rode a short distance and arrived to the summitt of McKenzie Pass (Elev. 4,500). I took time to take pictures of Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood (Three Sisters) and the lava fields with little vegitation before I started riding again. The scenery really started to change as I rode down the risky descents of the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range. The climate in the arid Columbia Plateau region of Oregon turned out to be nice and warm. Pedaling through parts of central Oregon was like being in a scene of a western movie because of the ranches and western style buildings in some small commmunities. Some of the cities are remnants of boom-towns during the mining days. I finally arrived to the bottom of McKenzie Pass to the town of Sisters, OR. I stopped and enjoyed a hardy steak and egg breakfast with all the trimmings. I left Sisters, OR for a relaxing 65 miles of relativel flat to rolling terrain and continued to receive nice greetings from passerbys in vehicles on the road. The traffic during the day was again light as it had been sofar on the cross-country trip. At 3:45 pm I sprinted the last few miles into Prineville, OR and camped at the city park with a Bikecentennial group (TAW-620). The group of cyclists were on a 90-day trip from Portland, OR to Yorktown, VA. Mr. Reely, on of the members of the group introduced me to everyone. It was truely amazing how the twelve people from all walks of life managed to get along and work together so smoothly.
July 4, Prineville, OR-Mitchell, OR I rode my bike with the 12-member Transamerican group another sunny day but hot with temperatures in the 90's through the arid and dry country in the Ochoco National Forest. Camp that afternoon was made in the booming of Mitchell, OR (Pop. 200). The group of us celebrated the 4th of July holiday and gathered for a group picture. One of the guys lit a small fire cracker to finalize things for the night.
July 5, Mitchell,OR-Mt. Vernon, OR Things started up on this day by reluctently saying goodby to the group of cyclists and getting on the road. The next couple of days were spent on the trail in the John Day Valley through some scenic areas like Picture Gorge. Picture Gorge was interesting in appearance because one can view the rock formations in the vicenity of the gorge. My destination for this day was Mt. Vernon, OR.

Unpacking the bicycle and gear on the first day.
Bus top shed on Highway 29 near Vida.  I spent the night here while it rained all night.
Hills in the Siuslaw National Forest West of Eugene, OR

One of several beautiful waterfalls along Highway 26 enroute to McKenzie Pass.
An old covered bridge near Rainbow, OR sitting over the McKenzie River.

The lava fields scene just over the summit of McKenzie Pass.

July 6, Mt. Vernon-Brownlee Dam, OR I got a good night's rest and ready to go for another fun day. On the previous evening I got up with a bicyclist who too was traveling. The rider was a remarkable 75 year old gentleman named Harold from New Zealand. Harold started his trip from Los Angeles, CA and was heading to the East Coast and then some more planned bicycling in South America. Harold flew to California and purchased a bicycle for his trip and simply got started from that point. The retired airplaine builder and I spoke often of comparisons of life in our two countries. He give me good ideas on how to make the best of things and save money. Harold and I rode together and spent a few nights along the route in Prarie City, OR (near Dixie Pass), Baker, OR and Brownlee Dam, OR. We finished our final day of riding together in Brownlee Dam, OR which was a pretty area but rather cool as nightfall approached.
July 7-8, Brownlee Dam, OR-New Meadows, ID I wroke up and munched away on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cream of wheat and drank from hot chocolate for breakfast. I broke camp and saddled up for another stroll down the road. I sadly bed farewell to Harold. We became good friends for the short period of time we rode together. I promised him that I'd write and send a letter to him upon completion of my trip in Denver, CO. Harold informed me that he usually rides for longer days until darkness. My plan normally was to take rides between 8 am and 5 pm each day. I usually tried to arrive to my destination before nightfall so I could fix dinner and make a daily diary entry of the day's happenings. I enjoyed some nice cycling from the Oregon/Idaho border through some tough climbs out of the Snake River Canyon. The route took me through the Seven Devils Mountains and onto Highway 95 near the Payette National Forest. The primary income in this region comes from farming and ranching. Cherries, apples, potatoes and but just a few of the crops grown in the area. Feedgrain is raised for local livestock. I ended the day in New Meadows, ID
July 9, New Meadows, ID-Grangeville, ID On this day I started to step up on my average mileage per day and averaged approximately 90 miles a day for the next three days into Missoula, MT. This day was to be one of the toughest and longest days on the road from 10 miles south of New Meadows, ID to Grangeville, ID. I experienced stiff headwinds heading northward from the 64th parrallel near New Meadows, ID to Lucile, ID (Approx. 65 miles in distance). I encountered 9.3 miles of 6% grade of climbing up White Bird Hill road just outside of Lucile, ID. There were 13 switchbacks on this tough climb. The cycling on this day was rewarding because of the scenery of the Little Simon and the Simon River; nicknamed the "River of No Return". Upon completing my climb on White Bird I finally arrived into Grangeville, ID. I enjoyed a dinner out at the local A@W Restuarant after the 95 mile ride. I was really hungry swallowing down two hamburgers, large fries and two large root beer floats.
July 10-12, Grangeville, ID-Missoula, MT The ride was most enjoyable as I completed my crossing of Idaho through the Lochsa Wilderness, Bitteroot Range over Lolo Pass (Elev. 5, 233) and some cycling along Lolo Creek. In the later portion of the day I arrived to Highway 12 (Louis & Clark Highway) and rode into Missoula, MT.
July 13-16, Missoula, MT Missoula was the biggest city I'd visited since passing through Eugene, OR. early in the trip. My stay in the area was a blessing since many goods I needed were found in local stores. This was the time and place to stock up on fod and needed items. Missoula, MT seemed like a truck stop for bicyclists to stop and refuel their engines. I noticed numerous bicycle tourists in small pace lines arriving and departing the city. During my extended stay in Missoula I took a couple rest days to visit my parents in Deer Lodge, MT. I packed the bicycle and gear and took a bus to Deer Lodge, MT. I made a call home and was informed that my dad was taken to the local hospital. I decided to make the trip to Deer Lodge. I enjoyed some good home cooking and the real bonus was that everything turned out good for my dad.
July 17, Missoula, MT-Jackson, MT On this day I took the bus back to Missoula, MT and then got on my bicycle for my journey to Jackson, MT.
July 18, Jackson, MT-Twin Bridges, MT I enjoyed yet another day in the "Big Sky Country" of Montana before arriving into Twin Bridges, MT. I saw another Transamerican group of cyclists traveling on their journey. East Group #516 was traveling from Yorktown, VA and started their trip on May 16th, 1983. It was always a thrill to see other bicyclists on the road traveling and enjoying the adventure. It's wonderful to share the experiences and pick up some tips to make the trip more enjoyable. I wode with them for a brief while and then at the Bikers Paradise, a bakery in Alder, MT. I enjoyed lunch in historic Virginia City, MT. Virginia City, MT is a restored mining town and it was most interesting to see the store windows and buildings.

The Little Simon River
The Old Town section of Helena, Montana
My dad and I with the Capital of Montana in the background.

July 19, Twin Bridges, MT-West Yellowstone, MT I left the group of cyclists and enjoyed a nice day of riding from Twin Bridges, MT to West Yellowstone, MT. I arrived to West Yellowstone around noon time and checked into the Ranch Motel. I took a long hot shower and relaxed on the soft bed watching Music TV taking in the welcomed air conditioning. It's amazing how how we take for granted the little things in life. I took a walk to the local post office in the afternoon to check to find if my paycheck arrived from my job in Vallejo, CA. I learned that it had not arrived in the mail and I was getting very nervous. I went to the local market and purchased some food. It was most challenging deciding what to buy to conserve funds while awaiting my paycheck.
July 20, West Yellowstone, MT I woke up and enjoyed the day in West Yellowstone. I paid the $49 hotel bill and now only had $25 to my name. I was worried big time about whether my check had arrived to the general post office box. I made another visit to the post office and came out extremely happy that my check arrived. I celebrated by getting a banana split at the local Dairy Queen. I received a new leash on life as it seemed and I did some shopping for needed items.
July 21, West Yellowstone, MT-Yellowstone National Park, WY I pedaled out early in the morning to get ahead of the large amount of RV's that hit the road in these parts. The route took me through Yellowstone National Park along beautiful tree-lined forest in Wyoming. The temperature in the morning was cooler than I was accustomed to during the trip. Deer and various wildlife were running and flying freely about as if I was in a scene of TV's Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. I took photos of deer walking across the the road paying no mind to me and the RV's moving along. I stopped and took pictures of the several gayser basins of mud pots, waterspouts and rainbow pools. I took some pictures of the famous Old Faithful. Old Faithful make it's eruption hourly which results in an estimated 10,000 gallons of water being thrown into the air. I continued another 20 miles through the park crossing the Continental Divide twice at elevations of 8,391 feet and 7,988 feet.
July 22, Yellowstone National Park, WY-Dubois, WY I started out on my bicycle on a foggy morning from Flagg Village Resort Campground & Motel located between Yellowstone National Park and in Grand Teton National Park. The village was the available spot to stay which had a overflow area for camping and RV's. I met two cyclists (Rich and Greg). One of the guys was from Harrisburg, VA and the other from Los Angeles, CA. Both guys were traveling together to Canada. My ride during the morning on John D. Rockefeller Parkway through the Bridger-Teton National Forest took me parallel to beautiful Lewis Lake. I enjoyed breath-taking views of the snow-piked Tetons. I felt the Grand Tetons were more impressive than the Oregon Cascades due to the continous range of peaks. After stopping for breakfast, I crossed the Continental Divide for a third time at Logwotee Pass (Elev. 9,658). I enjoyed a great 25 mile downhill from the summit of the divide into my day's destination of Dubois, WY. Enroute to Dubois, WY I came across seven bicyclists (Debbie, Terry, Tony, Kathy, Teesee, Bob and Janice) who were traveling from the West Coast. The group was heading to different points of the East Coast including New York, Ohio, Virginia and New Jersey. I joined them at Circle-Up campground for the night. I was to remain with this group until my arrival to Denver, CO.
July 23, Dubois, WY-Landon, WY I joined my new group of friends as the eighth member of the gang. We cycled through the Wyoming Basin southward along a fence of the Wind River Mountains near to the southwest direction. Terry, Tony and I made it to the destination of Landon, WY barely escaping a heavy downpour of rain. We did the laundry and washed all those stinky clothes. The rest of the group arrived a little later in the evening and we stayed at the local city park. We had dinner and celebrated Kathy's birthday with a nice cake and card. The park was alive that night as there were 5 soccer times of kids gathered at nearby picnic tables. It was party time and our group was offered beers. I felt I was involved in a Washington DC news conference part of the time that night as various locals approached asking where we rode from and where we were heading. Later that evening I went to bed in my tent among the circle of tents like teepees.

I took a needed break after another beautiful climb on my 16th day of the trip near Sula, Montana.
Historic downtown Virginia City, MT

A view of the lovely landscape just outside of Virginia City, MT.

Resting up at the KO-Z Motel in West Yellowstone, MT
Posing in front of the sign at the entrace to Yellowstone National Park.

These are some of the mud pots, waterspouts and rainbow pools found in Yellowstone National Park.

July 24, Landon, WY-Jeffrey City, WY I wroke up wide-eyed and bushy tailed and went to the local Safeway to purchase some food for breakfast and stock up on food for the day. The group of us rode rolling hills and then a long continious 32 mile climb up to the Beaver Divide through very disolete country. We felt lucky that the weather was not blistering hot as it was only in the 80's in temperature. We arrived to Jeffery City, WY about noon time and that was where we spent the night. Most of the group made it into town together except for Terry who had a mishap riding onto some wet thick tar which resulted in a cracked front rim. Tony arrived to camp later in the evening. The damage was too extensive for him to fix.
July 25, Jeffrey City, WY-Rawlins, WY This day started out with a good breakfast away from the misquitos of the camp site. The group never did any cooking out at camp but always ate at the local cafes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our average cost was about $6 a meal. The people of Jeffery City were very friendly. The people in these parts are reliant upon oil drilling and mining as their main source of income. The day's ride was a distance of 70 miles. The major drawbacks to my travels in Wyoming were the headwinds and in my opinion the scenery was boring. In the late afternoon Bob of Virginia and I to Rawlins, WY. Terry got a ride from Jeffery City, WY to Rawlins, WY. Terry got his rim fixed and saw some relatives. At approximately 5:30 pm the eight of us managed to find each other downtown then went to Terry's friend's house to decide where to spend the night in town. We decided to rent a house for $25, the place had two bedrooms, livingroom, kitchen and a bathroom. It was nice to have a bathroom for a much desired hot shower. Most everyone stripped their bikes down and cleaned up their gear and did laundry. The group of us decided to head to the local train station to greet an additional member to join us for the bicycle trip. Ann was a really nice lady and addition to the group. Late in the evening we ordered a large pizza and decided what the agenda was for the next day's travels and write in our diaries.
July 26, Rawlins, WY-Saratoga, WY Woke up early in the morning and continued doing some chores to clean the house up and finish up on cleaning the bikes before leaving down at approximately 3:15 pm. At the beginning of the ride I had my first flat tire since leaving Reedsport, OR but otherwise a nice 40 mile trip into Saratoga, WY.

The highway to no-mans land near the Beaver Divide.
The disolete country just south of Jeffery City, WY

Pictured (left to right), Ann and Debbie are cleaning their bicycles in front of the house the group of us stayed in while in Rawlins, WY.
Kathy is trying to give one of us some hot toast right off the grill.
Tony is proudly modeling his shirt that portrays a unique message but not so nice to someone living in Nebraska.

July 27, Saratoga, WY-Walden, CO I started out early on my ride into the "Rocky Mountain State" and finishing in Walden, CO (Pop. 1000). I was joined by my new found friends a couple hours later in town. We spent the night in the basement of the North Park Community Church. It was a rainy night so we were lucky not to be out sleeping in our tents. We each provided a small donation to the church to help pay for materials and upkeep of the building. We heard singing voices above us in the chapel. Chorus members were practicing for an upcoming program.
July 28, Walden, CO-Ft. Collins, CO We all woke up and enjoyed a nice breakfast. A decision was made that Terry, Debbie and I would travel together to Ft. Collins, CO. The rest of the group went southward through Rocky Mountain National Park and into Denver. I wanted to take a route that would put me in Denver, CO quicker so that I could spend a little time and enjoy the city before flying back to San Francisco, CA. Terry wanted to see friends in Ft. Collins, CO and Debbie like myself wanted to get to Denver, CO sooner. The ride for the day was really a lot of fun. The routed started out flat with some rolling hills up to the foot of Cameron Pass on Highway 14. The highway goes through the Colorado State Forest and Roosevelt National Forest. There were streams along with beautiful views of the Rockies to the South. There was a good 5 mile climb to the summitt of Cameron Pass and then a surprising 65 mile steady downhill ride into Ft. Collins, CO. This turned out to be one of the easiest and most enjoyable rides of the trip. We arrived in the late evening into Ft. Collins after 102 miles of cycling. We spent the night at Terry's friend's house. Terry always seemed to have the connections. The evening was spent eating out at a nice outdoor place on the campus of Colorado State University.
July 29, Ft. Collins, CO-Denver, CO Debbie and I said our farewells to Terry and started our ride into Denver, CO. The day's route was flat and we saw a lot of wheat fields with tall grass with the view of the Rocky Mountains to the west of us. It was a very warm day. At approximately 4:30 pm I arrived into the Denver, CO during the rush-hour traffic. This was to mark the end of my biggest personal accomplishment in my involvement in bicycling. I spent the night at the YMCA.

The steady upgrade of Cameron Pass.
I'm excited to be near the top of Cameron Pass. The Rockies shown in the background.
Terry is shown making her way up the grade.




Adventure Cycling Association (Formally Bikecentennial) This Association provides information regarding bicycle tours, routes, maps and much more... I used Bikecentennial to obtain route information for my USA Bicycle trip in 1983-84.

Ken Kifer's Bike Pages Bicycle Camping and Touring

America By Bicycle Organized long distance bicycle touring.

biketrip.org The long distance bikers forum

(Just click onto the image icon below)
Dave - The Bicyclist
This section includes pictures taken at major bicycle races in the San Francisco Bay Area.



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