Dan Hoyt

Web developer/designer

No Takebacks 1997: Texas→Black Hills→New York

In 1997, I rode my first solo bicycle tour across Texas, the Midwest, and the East Coast. Following are day-by-day accounts drawn from memory and journal entries. Dialog is wholly recreated.

Spring 1997: Suit up and sell out

After my first two day tour, I began planning for a continental trip across parts unknown. Perhaps "hyped up" is more fitting, as I drew out possible routes and babbled incessantly about it to whomever would listen.

A couple of friends gave me books of similar tours—one of a journalist doing a coast-to-coast tour, another of a Canadian selling everything to ride both coasts and the southern tier. The latter was amateurish but honest and spirited, and its influence switched vital junctions in my life for years afterwards.

Interwoven into the former is the story of the first cyclist riding around the earth on a nickel-plated Columbia bicycle weighing over a hundred pounds, before the age of paved roads. I was stunned to find out that people had been doing this for so long, and never once had I seen or heard anything about it. I was joining the secret cult of the worldwide wheel.

A co-worker of mine on campus was a former bike mechanic, and he helped me assemble my first touring rig. Trek sold an inexpensive hybrid with rack mounts on the front fork. We added a few improvements, the most useful of which were bar ends and clipless pedals. It shaped up like a budget Frankenstein's Monster, while the Austin bike shop looked on noddingly. I overheard one of the shop staff saying to the other, "He's piling it on man, just let him pile it on."

The day came when I took the plunge and sold everything I had to help fund the trip before heading out. Plenty of time for regrets on the open road!

Next: Full speed ahead