How Phil Hinrichs Was Inspired to Ride the TransAm

That Worked Out: How Phil Hinrichs Was Inspired to Ride the TransAm

November 30, 2015

In the summer of 1976, I was a couple of months away from turning 30, I was happily married, and I was out of work. The dossier on me would likely have been filed under “Ordinary” with a note that would say, “Thinks he isn’t.”

My wife loved history and, being the bicentennial year, we headed east to Williamsburg and some actual historic places.

On our way home, I convinced her that we should check out the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have long believed that this 469 mile commercial free, truck free parkway is on the short list of great places and a beautiful gift that the American people gave themselves and the world.

We stopped at a scenic overlook where the course of my life was to change in ways I could never have imagined.

about to ride home from the denver areaPhil Hinrichs about to ride home to Dayton from the Denver area.

A fellow rode in on a bike loaded with gear and I asked “THE QUESTION.”

“Where ya from?”


“No, no, no, where ya riding from?”


Then I asked about a million questions and it turned out he was a group leader for a Bikecentennial group doing the TransAmerica Trail.

new mexico 2005 tuscon to austin- he took photo had bike since 1983Phil during his trip from New Mexico to Austin, Texas in 2005.

The die was cast when my wife and I got home. There was a small article in both Time and Newsweek magazines about the thousands of people that had ridden all or part of the TransAm. These articles touched me and I told my wife I wanted those maps for my 30th birthday.

In truth, I never expected to bicycle the TransAm and assumed I would use the maps for a cool motorcycle trip.

notice that this is a 700c mountain bike converted to road bike bars_ key west 3 2010Phil poses with his 700c mountain bike in Key West, Floria.
He converted the standard mountain bike handlebars to road bike handlebars.

Nevertheless, I went out and bought a crappy bike, figured out that it was crappy, sold it for the $50 I had paid, and bought a decent bike. That decent bike cost about the same as a decent saddle does today.

In 1977, I rode to Illinois and back. I still remember turning down that first country road and thinking how cool it was. In 1978, I rode to Illinois again. Nothing worked out in 1979 and then I remembered the maps.

portrait by brother stevePhil’s portrait, taken by his brother Steve.

So, in 1980 I cobbled together seven weeks of leave and flew to Eugene, Oregon. I didn’t fly to Portland because that was the year Mount St. Helens blew. Six and a half weeks later, I rolled into Yorktown, Virginia, a changed person.

yorktown monument- same pose i use at the end of my very first cross country tripPhil poses at the Yorktown Monument after riding the TransAm. He did this trip immediately after  retiring in 2004. It’s the same pose he made in a photograph after his first trip on TransAm in 1980.

Since I started all this, I have rarely missed a year taking a trip. My inventory is 100,000 touring miles, 16 or so times cross country, I’ve ridden in 47 of the lower 48 states (it’s Rhode Island), and filled hundreds of pages of journals with great stories and experiences. I also got to play a significant role in developing the largest network of connected bicycle trails in the United States.

greg taking photo of phil, by sean who used to work at acaBikecentennial co-founder Greg Siple photographs Phil at Adventure Cycling
during his TransAm trip in 2004. Phil stopped at Adventure Cycling
to get rid of a trailer and change to the bike set up pictured here.

And it might have never happened. The TransAm only uses 10 of the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. That my wife and I happened to be at that scenic overlook at the moment that unknown tour leader stopped seems so improbable. Happily, thanks to that chance encounter, I ended up not quite so ordinary.

Story and photographs courtesy of Phil Hinrichs

Learn about the Trans-America bike trail. Link below.

Class Sponsorship – SHS Booster Club

From our FaceBook page
Dulany Sriner

I am sending in our Booster Club donation today. Thank you all for your generous donations. We collected a total of $735.00 from 17 individuals. You can be proud of your generosity. Below is the email I sent to the corporate sponsorship chairperson and to the principal. I look forward to letting you know what additional endeavor we will be funding. Email follows:

Cindi Hamill, Mike Grossen,
I will be sending out checks totaling $500 to the SHS booster club today. This is to satisfy our corporate sponsorship commitment for the 2015-2016 school year. I will now consider us on a school year basis rather than the calendar year as we were before. This should make it easier for your accounting. Any additional donations sent to the SHS Booster Club from individual class members should be credited toward next year (2016 – 2017 )

I have up to an additional $235 to donate for some school or class project. Rather than just send it in to be added to some fund, I would like be able to tell the class that they are donating something specific. If you know of some project where we can make a difference with our donation, please let me know and I will forward a check in the needed amount up to the $235. I know that this will promote the desire to give if the class knows how they have made a difference. It makes it personal.

Thanks for your cooperation on this matter,
Dulany Sriner, class of 64

compliments of