What started as finding a family member back in 1995 has grown to traveling the states on a bicycle.
“I started out in 1995, when my father was dying of a stroke and he asked me to find an older brother so that he could make amends to him before he died,” said Tony Adams of Ft. Collins, Colo., who was seen on his Recumbent Tadpole bicycle Thursday afternoon on Highway 59 just outside of Neosho. “I agreed. I hopped on a 10-speed bicycle, threw an army duffle bag on my back. I traveled for 30 days from Oregon to California to Las Vegas, Nev., and I am supposed to find an older brother living on the streets somewhere in Vegas. And I need directions to a homeless shelter. And of all of the thousands of people in Vegas, I see one person walk across the street. I walk over and tap this man on shoulder, ask directions, and the man turned around, it was my older brother. Mom called it fate, like it was supposed to happen.”
A few years later, he began his current trek across the United States.
“I wanted to do something different, so in the year 2000 – the millennium year – I hopped on a 10-speed bicycle, I bought a trailer, and I traveled from Ft. Collins, Colo., to Niagara Falls, N.Y., taking me 36 days to get there,” he said. “Even though it was a big moment for something to see Niagara, but I only spent half of the day and then I peddled on. I continued my trip through West Virginia, through the Zion Mountains, back to Colorado, I did 20 states in four months on a 10-speed bicycle. In doing so, it is traveling down the road, smelling flowers in the air, meeting people that I have never met before…”
He said being outside uses his different senses.
“Feeling the wind, the rain and the enjoyment,” he added. “This is my 14th year on the road, 36 states are now completed.”
As far as what his mission is on these trips is to meet different people.
“It is to meet people, their attitudes in life, their concepts, their realities,” Adams said. “I feel that I am learning my wisdom through people, the people that I meet. I am searching for answers to questions that I haven’t asked.”
Asked if he knew how many miles he has covered, he said he doesn’t keep track.
“They call me the Forrest Gump, but I think that I have got more miles than Forrest Gump,” Adams said. “I have been to the East Coast twice, Montana twice, Texas twice, four times in California, five times in Nevada, four times in Utah, Oregon, Wyoming. Colorado, I have done eight times.”
He tries to use the back roads when he travels, but he also has traveled on interstates such as I-5, I-10 and I-25, to name a few. He uses his own maps and also people donate maps to him. Adams also does odd jobs for people along the way and people donate items to him such as money or even food or items for his trailer that he has attached to his bicycle.
“It is eight feet long, there is a sleeping berth of 7 foot long,” he said. “I took a self-inflating air bed, laid it down on a plywood floor and then built a house around it. There is a 1 foot by 2 foot kitchen by the wheels, there is a propane wood burner Coleman stove.”
And he even has some of the comforts of home like a 7-inch TV and 7-inch DVD player. He even uses solar panels to recharge his batteries.
On this trip, after he left Neosho, he headed up to Joplin and then eventually west.
“I will go to Joplin for the second time, then Kansas for the fourth time and I know that it is going to take me three weeks to get across Kansas (heading west),” he added.
Adams was asked what the No. 1 place that he has enjoyed over his years of traveling and said, “I use to have answers to that, but now I tell people it is planet Earth. If I could ride the bike to the moon, I would like to do that.”
When asked if back in 1995 he thought he would be here biking across the United States, he said, “I feel like now destined to do this for the rest of my life. I have never had a vehicle, a license, never had been married, and never had kids. I am 49 years old.”
Next year, Adams hopes to travel the northern states such as North Dakota, Massachusetts, Michigan and Maine.