Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bicycle Touring on a 1977 Huffy One-Speed

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Jeff Teel got into bicycle touring by adding some baskets to his 1977 one-speed Huffy (distributed as an Open Road model by Montgomery Ward). The baskets were for transporting veggies.
"During the summers of 2008 and 2009, I used my bike sometimes to make weekly trips to nearby Eureka to pick up vegetables from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that we were members of. I purchased the rear baskets for that reason. It wasn't until later that I determined they'd work for touring."
He writes about his adventures in three journals at the Crazy Guy on a Bike website, a site that supports many hundreds of trips taken by bike touring folks all over the world. His three documented trips add up to 50 days of travel that include tent camping and 2,458 miles of travel.
  • Morton, IL, to Springfield, MO, in nine days (2010)
  • Morton, IL, to Laurens, IA, to Mount Zion, WI, to Morton, IL (2011)
  • Morton, IL to Northern Indiana and Back (2011)
Neither Jeff's travels nor his equipment are exotic, yet he got on his bike and pedaled down the road--if not a road less traveled then certainly in a manner less used. He's not all low tech either.
He maps his route and uses GPS to maintain his route. He posts to CGOAB via email. He upgrades the gearing on his one-speed, changing the rear sprocket from 19 teeth to 20. (see image below).

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Jeff's Montgomery Ward Open Road, manufactured by Huffy in 1977, at an earlier time in American bicycle touring history--say 1900--would be considered a wonder of technological achievement. We don't need much to travel by bike, mostly the incentive. Even with his simple equipment, though, it's evident that Jeff has done his planning. The resulting trips are obviously full of pleasure and achievement.

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Friedel and Andrew Grant say it well in their free e-book Bike Touring Basics. Their book is also available as an Amazon eBook and has been reviewed by me.
"Above all, don’t be put off by an obsession to figure out every last detail. Like any journey, there’s a lot to think about before you take those first steps but, at its core, bike touring is really quite simple. The most crucial ingredients are a bike and a desire to ride that bike beyond your front doorstep."
 For me, Jeff Teel's bicycling adventures show me two things besides the Grants' encouragement to just start and not worry about too much. One learning lesson is that it's not necessary to obsess on planning, that the basics will do and what more is needed is become evident. The second lesson is that there can be great beauty and enjoyment close to home, that we don't have to travel across the country or around the globe to find a beautiful adventure. For those who seek the far horizons, I applaud your audacity and may well find myself one day joining your ranks.

But for now, a weekend down a local lane and a night spent in a cozy county campground--that's my incentive and my dream.

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Copyright 2012 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved
Images are from CGOAB and have been posted with links

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