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Uphill and Against the Wind - TransAm E-W
By Dave T

Epilogue +20: Final Thoughts

Has it really been 20 years? Where did the time go?

I haven't consciously thought about the Trans America Trail in many years, but this year was different. Shortly into the new year, sadly Tom Crocker the owner of the bike shop I worked in as a kid passed away. In the days after the funeral somehow I inherited all the stuff from the old bike shop, the tools, the parts, the stands, the benches. I spent an afternoon just looking at all the stuff, reminiscing about those days working in the shop. All the memories and events leading me to ride the Trans America Trail came flooding back. I started to realize that the Trans America Trail has been part of my life for 26 years, either consciously or unconsciously.

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As I relived the journey all over again this year, I realized the Trans America Trail was about the journey, not the destination. The trip was not really about the bike at all, or even the goal to ride coast to coast, but about everyone and everything in-between. The trip was really about the experience, the people, the friends, and the memories along the way. I was excited to get to the coast at Florence, but without any friends to celebrate it with made it really no big deal. For me, the real end of the journey was in Astoria, reuniting and celebrating with my friends, Clay, Diane, and Fred.

I made many decisions about life in those 90 days in 1986. I was never cut out for the traditional beaten path of life that everyone else just seems to blindly follow. I've never really had a lot of stuff, thinking the next adventure was always right around the corner. While all my friends were getting married and having kids I was still goofing around like a kid. Gene had a great outlook on life back then, a creed, and his influence just confirmed what I already knew about myself. Unconsciously, still to this day, I live by Gene's creed.

I know that reliving the journey all over again 20 years later pulled forward the fun times, and dulled the physical and metal agonies of the road. I did experience the highs and lows all over again in my mind, some days I was bored to tears and didn't want to write, some days I was so excited I couldn't wait to get to it. I experienced the whole gamete of emotions, including the anguish of the end of the road.

Even though I don't consciously think about the journey, I have many daily reminders. My right hand has nerve damage from the constant vibration on the road, when I use the mouse and keyboard I feel every inch of the trail. When I use my lock I remember my Uncle Adam and his visit just before my departure. When I go to a Mexican restaurant and I see Chilli Rellenos on the menu, I think of that time in Breckenridge and the mix-up with Clay. When I hear BTO "Takin' Care of Business", I think of the fireworks in Breckenridge with the gang. Having a Henry Weinhard's beer makes me grin and think back the 1986. (we can't get Henry's in Michigan... Lisa's favorite beer) When I hear ZZ Top on the radio I think about climbing Chief Joseph Pass with Steve and Stew, blasting the tiny speakers. Whenever my beer glass sticks to the bar napkin I think about the salt trick my grandpa showed me in Yorktown. Many other small things will briefly take me back to the road.

The Trans America Trail was a life altering experience for me, and it can't ever be changed, erased or forgotten. If anyone has the opportunity to ride the Trans America Trail I highly recommend it, but remember, sometimes it's not all fun and games.

Finally,

My wife Lisa and I had the opportunity to visit Tom during the holidays, a few short days before his death. He was excited to see me and we talked a little about cycling. He couldn't get around easy but he jumped out of his chair and went into the back bedroom and pulled out the picture of me in the Tetons. I said "I kicked Herbie's ass" .....Tom was grinning from ear to ear, and I took that as his acknowledgment...... finally.

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Live Life Now..........


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