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Oregon man retraces 3,000 bike trip he originally took in 1963

Bud Schorr, Oregon, poses with the bicycle he rode to Yellowstone National Park 50 years ago. He and his wife Pat retraced the trip this summer. Photo supplied
Bud Schorr, Oregon, poses with the bicycle he rode to Yellowstone National Park 50 years ago. He and his wife Pat retraced the trip this summer. Photo supplied

An Oregon man spent several weeks this summer repeating a 3,000-mile bicycle trip he took 50 years ago as a teenager.

Bud Schorr, 66, retraced his steps to Yellowstone National Park and back from mid-June to mid-July.

Back on June 11, 1963, Schorr and a friend Bob Summerhil left their homes in Park Ridge on an adventure that took them through several states, all kinds of weather, and numerous bike repairs.

They returned home Aug. 7, 1963 no worse for wear and enriched by the experience.

This time Schorr and his wife Pat left Oregon on June 15 and returned July 12, visiting family and friends along the way.

He rode his motorcycle most of the trip, and she drove their Suburban pulling a cargo trailer.

"We had a really great time," Pat said.

Schorr agreed. "We had a wonderful trip."

Going by motorcycle, rather than on a bicycle, made for a faster, less physically taxing trip, Schorr said.

"It made life a lot easier," he said with a grin.

"During the bad weather we could still travel and put the bike [motorcycle] in our trailer," Pat said.

Although they encountered two very strong storms, one with wind and heavy rain and another with horizontal hail, and lots of mosquitoes along the way, Schorr said he decided not to ride the motorcycle for only three days of the trip.

Schorr said he and Summerhil had taken numerous bicycle trips when they decided 50 years ago to ride to Yellowstone.

"My father said 'you're biting off more than you can chew.' He was almost right," he said.

According to the diary Summerhil kept throughout the trip, the two teens left Park Ridge at 6:30 a.m. and rode 75 miles to Belvidere on the first day.

The second day they battled the rolling hills of northern Illinois along with high winds and settled down for the night in Stockton.

As became their custom, they asked the first person they saw there where they could spend the night.

She happened to be the sheriff's wife and sent them to the police station. They spent the night in the relative comfort of the jail.

They traveled across Iowa and into South Dakota, sometimes hitching rides along the way.

Bike breakdowns, weather conditions, and illness slowed them down.

When they ran short of money, the two boys found jobs to make enough to continue.

Some breakdowns, like flat tires, were simple enough to fix.

Others, however, required parts which weren't always readily available.

In that case, the boys called home, and their parents sent them what they needed, sometimes mailing it the local police department.

People along the way sometimes fed the boys and put them up for the night. Other times they fished for their supper and camped under the stars.

They ate a lot of bologna sandwiches.

"I hate bologna to this day," Schorr said this a laugh.

Word about their adventure spread from town to town and often they were interviewed by local newspaper reporters.

They signed the guest book at Yellowstone on July 13.

The last leg of their journey home went faster than the boys expected. After a good night's rest in the Oskaloosa, Iowa, police station, the boys got two rides — one in a pick-up truck and the second in a semi headed for the Chicago area.

"He dropped us off at Interstate 55 and 83," the journal entry for Aug. 7 read. "We rode the rest of the way home in a hurry."

Pat kept a journal of this year's trip, which retraced the first one as much as possible.

"There were no interstates on the original trip," Schorr said. "We took secondary roads this time."

Some of those roads weren't paved 50 years ago.

"It was rough riding a bicycle on gravel," Schorr remembered.

Just for old times sake, Schorr took the bike he rode on the first trip along this year.

They made it to Yellowstone on June 25, after only 10 days on the road, compared to the 32 in 1963.

Schorr said he saw major changes in the little towns they passed through 50 years ago.

"Some towns are thriving and some are gone," he said. "Some went from 3,000 people to 300."

He said throughout the first trip, they were asked to show identification only once, he said, by a police officer in Nebraska on their way home.

"It was a different era," Schorr said. "The people were friendly. The men we talked to then thought what we were doing was great. Of course, some of them had walked across Europe when they were only 18."

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