Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Part 6 Lon's First Cross Country 1981

Part 6
Our crew for the Double Transcontinental would be made up of six people. My mom and dad had just turned 50 years old in 1981. They had been very supportive of me for the past 10 years as my interest in longer distance cycling took us to new places. My younger brother Ken had just graduated from high school and this ride across across the country was a big road trip for him. Jon Royer and Dean Dettman were two 20 year old mechanics from the bike shop where I worked. They were the “Jack of all trades” type guys who could drive vehicles and repair them too. Our sixth crew member was Susan Notorangelo from St. Louis. She was a nurse and an accountant. We had become friends the previous winter and only met in person a few weeks before the cross country ride. Everyone brought special talents to the event.

Crossing the country twice and being in motion for over 30 consecutive days including travel time was very stressful for everyone. Everyday had dozens of adjustments and changes to the daily plan. It was great to have my parents and brother along who knew me well. It was also necessary to have the perspective of new friends. Considering what we were trying to accomplish without any previous example to follow, we did a pretty good job of inventing the wheel of nonstop cross country cycling.

For support vehicles, we had a 25 foot motor home, a small Dodge Omni chase car and a full size cargo van. Two crew members were assigned to each vehicle. They would rotate between vehicles everyday to get a chance to sleep for a few hours in the motor home or follow me in the chase car. Since I was taking long sleep breaks at night everyone usually tried to get some sleep when I stopped between midnight and sunrise. I remember we even had a tent the crew would set up sometimes when sleeping space was cramped.

Jon Royer and Susan took lots of photos. I didn’t fully appreciate their effort to document the Double Transcontinental until years later. Some of the photos they took still provide me with some of my best cross country memories. I only regret we didn’t have a video camera or someway to record interviews along the way. I did stop and do many interviews with local radio stations but I don’t have any copies of those. A hometown company called DAROME was a innovator in teleconference equipment at the time. They helped sponsor my record attempt. Everyday we did a 15 minute interview that was broadcast nationally on a telephone call in chat line. Newspapers and radio people from across the country could call and ask questions. We had several stories posted by Associated Press newspapers. As the record attempt continued across the country the following by the media increased. I sensed many newspapers and television stations we contacted on our way west thought the record attempt was going to fail. They would only give us luke warm interest when Susan contacted them. I used their snub as motivation to on my return trip east.



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