In January, 2008, my father turned 80. He is not a man with extravagant taste, so a great present is a difficult task. My mother had the brilliant idea to take the slideshow of our bike trip and have it turned into a DVD. My sister and niece had it done, I did some editing with dad's help, and added the Three Dog Night.
Our entire family went on this trip, my mom and dad, Slade and Sally, my brother, Tod, was 14, sister Sarah turned 13 on the trip, and I was 11. Members of another family, the Hemstads, were also with us--mom Mic, Rachel, 17, Chris, 15, and Jenny, 12. Dad spent months planning the route, with maps spread around him, trying to find roads along rivers or railroad tracks that would be reasonably flat. My uncle Nat said if we made it to New York he would join us. When we got to Lake Michigan he bought a bike. ;-)
In Fairview, PA (near Erie), my dad was struck by a hit and run driver. It was a four lane highway, the sun was low in the east and blinded the driver. Dad had just pulled up behind me and said, Hello, Boo, when he was hit, crashed into me and we both fell. The first thing out of his mouth was GET THE LICENSE PLATE, as his glasses had gone flying. I was too shaken to do so, but someone travelling in the other direction saw the accident, made a u-turn over the grass median, and chased the driver down. The car's chrome strip had gone into dad's leg, and he required dozens of stitches. (My memory is 109, dad's is 49.) Thankfully the big saddlebags we carried took much of the impact and in literally a few days he was riding with us again.
We averaged 85 miles a day, except in flat North Dakota with the wind at our back, where we did 147. We slept mostly in churches, and usually took off one day a week. Occasionally strangers would see us gathered at the local store and invite us to stay with them. It was a marvelous experience, taking 47 days and covering 3,328 miles. We crossed three mountain passes--the Cascades in Washington, the Rockies in Montana, and the Green mountains in Vermont. Although for westerners, the latter are really just hills. ;-)
I was listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the youngest trans-continental cyclist for our accomplishment, but they stopped the listing in 1976, when the "bike-centennial" had a number of young riders.
For years dad traded his normal political speech for this slideshow. Between schools and Rotary clubs, he guesses 10,000 people saw it. Now with the help of the internet, the story can be told again. Enjoy. :)