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Thursday, October 20, 2011

From the Interwebs: Great America Bicycle Tour of 1975

Hey kidz, time to share some cool stuff I found. From a link via Adventure Cycling, check out this cool vid from 1975:

If the embedded vid doesn't work, use this link:

I can't find out too much about this movie (and I searched, albeit briefly), so here is what the YouTube uploader says:

In 1975, JC Penney hired 12 college students to ride their bikes from NYC to San Francisco. They were promoting their new disc brake equipped bikes OEM'd from Huffy Manufacturing. As you will see, they thought people rode bikes in tennis gear. The music is classic. 

It was a great summer, even with the mandatory "Safety skits" performed at various JC Penney shopping malls.

It's interesting to think that a department store not exactly renowned for its bike selection was behind this. (Love those bestial looking disc brakes, though. Go Huffy/Shimano!)

And also interesting is the content (or lack thereof). The fourteen minute film consists primarily of scenes of the cyclists riding quietly through scenic landscapes, with occasional disembodied voice-over commentary from the riders about their experiences. Not much else. (Since film crews and film stock was expensive, I'm assuming the film crew was only along for a couple days of the 4,000 mile ride, just shooting some highlights.) If this film was made today, it would either be (a) shorter, as we don't have the attention span for this type of stuff and/or (b) much more content, as JC Penney would have paid one or two college kids with digital cameras to follow the whole thing.

Anyways, I think it's an interesting glimpse into bicycles and bicycle touring in the '70's, tennis outfits and all. What do y'all think?


  1. It would be interesting to do a "then and now" project with the twelve cyclists.

  2. You are correct sir! The film "crew" - I think it was three people - flew out to film us on just a few days. Often we were required to go back and do a scene again. We were doing an average of 80 miles a day, and often we did not get going because of the timing of the safety skits, until noon. So the filming sequences did not make us very happy.

    Yep if it was done today JCP might provide two college kids with a GoPro and so have at it.

    1. Sam, thanks for responding!

      So, how did this come about? Or more specifically, how did you get involved with the ride? Was there an open call and you answered it?


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