Article by John Franklin Hamilton
Many Hampton Roads, Virginia residents may be aware of the Virginia Capital Trail, aka the Cap or the Cap Trail, that runs from Richmond to Jamestown or Williamsburg. Constructed between 2006 and 2015, it allows cyclists to start in Richmond, Virginia, and eventually ride down the Colonial Parkway into this writer’s charming hometown of Yorktown, Virginia. However, many of these same residents may not be aware of another fascinating bicycle trail with ties to Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The TransAmerica Bicycle Trail starts all the way out on the west coast in Astoria, Oregon, which is nestled along the Columbia River, sitting adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, and ends right here in my historic hometown of Yorktown, Virginia. Along the journey, the adventurous cyclist will roam and meander their way through 4,218 miles (remember that Los Angeles to New York by vehicle is only about 2,775 miles) of American small towns, big cities, fertile fields, and breathtaking byways. Believe it or not, this trail has been open for about 47 years, since America’s 200th Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. The nonprofit Adventure Cycling Association (ACA), which was founded in 1973, created and mapped the trail so cyclists could ride mainly on rural two-lane roadways.
Quite appropriately for a trail with ties to Yorktown, the trail holds the distinction of being the first bicycling touring route to traverse the country from coast to coast. Furthermore, over the years, the TABT has been the site of some pretty amazing human interest stories, which include:
*In 2016, Lael Wilcox became a female cycling legend when she defeated 57 other competitors, including some male cyclists, to win the Trans Am Bike Race.
*In 2019, brave cyclist Cynthia Ord made the journey all by herself to Yorktown, Virginia.
*Also in 2019, two deaf cyclists named Albert Blake and Conrad Baer went east instead while starting their trip in Yorktown, Virginia. Their efforts proved fruitful, as for the benefit of deaf children they raised over 20,000 dollars.
*Once more in 2019, blind and mostly deaf Dick Hagan set out from Yorktown, Virginia on a unique and inspiring escapade.
*In 2022, a group of 20 women, all from ages 60 through 75, finished their journey at the hallowed Yorktown Victory Monument.
However, the TABT had its shining moment as a part of America’s 200th Birthday Celebration. In 1976, a rather famous event still talked about by cyclists from across the globe was the Bikecentennial event. The American Revolution Bicentennial Administration (ARBA) even lent its support to the happenings. According to the official ACA website, slightly more than 2,000 hearty cyclists of the 4,000 cyclists who started completed the entirety of the trail over the summer of 1976. Roughly 400 of the riders, including a contingent of about 200 from the Netherlands, converged on America from overseas to be a part of the festivities.
In the end, the Spirit of Bikecentennial lives on in the form of the Trans Am Bike Race. The 9th edition of this challenge begins on June 4, 2023. Who knows? Perhaps even some local Hampton Roads, Virginia residents can sign up for the race one year and lead the charge into the historic streets of Yorktown, Virginia.
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