Thirty years ago, I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and growing ever more restless. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, and the place fit like a glove during my college student days.
But two years after graduation, I was longing for a place I reverently called The Road. I’d gotten to know that place during the previous summer, when I did a 2,500-mile bicycle tour through the Upper Midwest and Canada.
Truth be told, I only pedaled back to Ann Arbor because autumn was closing in, and I didn’t know where else to go. That was late October 1980. Didn’t take long to realize that my non-affiliation with the university made me an Ann Arbor outsider.
In February 1981, Ann Arbor was still quite cold, but I got on my bike and started storming around the city. It was time to get in shape, to make further progress on a goal I’d set during the previous summer: I wanted to bicycle through all 50 of the United States.
Already had four states checked off the list during the previous summer. Michigan, New York, Minnesota, and Iowa down. Only 46 more to go.
On May 3, 1981, I headed out of Ann Arbor and wouldn’t see the place again for over a year. During my year-plus on the road, I pedaled through 34 new states and the aforementioned four.
One of the great joys of traveling by bicycle is that you really get to see the country. Close up. After climbing a seemingly endless hill on U.S. 40 in eastern Ohio, I decided to take a break. So did this grasshopper…