“Now I’ve heard it all,” sniggered the girl at the travel agency. “Someone who wants to ride a bike all the way across America!” She shouldn’t have been surprised because since 1976, some 12,000 people have done it, riding Bikecentennial’s 4,450-mile Trans-America  Trail from Oregon to Virginia.

Bikecentennial was dreamed up by four Americans who had cycled from Alaska to Cape Horn. They thought a cross-America route would encourage cycling; and their idea coincided with the 1976 Bikecentennial celebrations, when the US government was handing out  money for such worthy projects.

The Trans-America Trail was bom. Because the trail follows small roads and only goes through small towns, “you see places and people you’d never see otherwise,” said Carol Coutts, an American teacher (and novice cyclist) who tackled the trail.


An English cyclist, Norman Hall, found that in Missouri their  group “ended up in someone’s living room every evening.” The route was worked out with great care, and Bikecentennial’s five sectional booklets not only have incredibly detailed maps but also a guide to camp sites and flora and fauna, for those who admire plants and animals.

There are 90-day ‘package tours’ for cyclists who want to travel in a group. (They’ll cost about $1200 next year.) Bikecentennial’s address is Claire Creswell, P0 Box 8308, Missoula, MT 59807, USA (tel. 406 721 1776).

A free information leaflet is available to anyone who writes; their quite excellent booklets contain advice on preparation for a long tour, as well as route details  (for the Trans-America Trail or the five shorter routes).

UK cyclists should be able to take their bikes free of charge on any regular transatlantic flight, if it comes within their 20 kg. baggage allowance (and if it doesn’t, you probably have too much luggage for a cycle tour); but always check with the airline first.



A. What do the following refer to?
1. ‘if (line 4):
2. They* (line 20):
B. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F). 1. As cyclists go through small villages, they meet different people. 2. If you write to Claire Creswell, you can get an information leaflet.

1. Line 2, ‘he’ refers to
2. Line 8, ‘this area’ refers to
3. Line 16, ‘they’ refers to
4. Line18, ‘innovations’ means

B. Mark the best choice.

1. Glenn Curtis held a speed record for .

a) flying boats b) bicycles c) motorcycles d) speedboats

2. Curtis’ first work in aviation was with .

a) twisting wings b) hydroplanes c) dirigibles d) The June Bug

3. Curtis’ June Bug was unusual because of its .

a) twisting wings b) ailerons c) gasoline engine d) steam engine

4. Curtis was awarded the Langley Medal for developing the

a) training plane b) Army Dirigible No. 1 c) hinged flap d) flying boat

C. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).

1. During World War I, Curtis made planes only for Great Britain and Russia.

2. Glenn Curtis died in 1929

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