KC bicyclists tours West

William Thompson

Tommy Small, a man who hasn’t driven a car in over five years, left his home in Kansas City May 1 and expects to tour the western United States for the next five months on his bicycle.

Small passed through Tucumcari Wednesday afternoon preparing to get on Interstate-40 on his way to Santa Rosa. He will then proceed down to El Paso en route to the Continental Divide. From there he hopes to cycle to Glacier, Montana and then on to the west coast. Small said he has not encountered any major problems so far. “Somebody in Kansas threw some firecrackers at me, and somebody in an old pickup truck tried to scare me here in New Mexico by turning on a loud siren behind me,” said Small, “but other than that nothing major has happened.”

Small said law enforcement officials along the way have been very helpful to him. “Local police have helped me find places to pitch my tent,” he said. “The only thing the police have cautioned me about is making sure I don’t start a campfire in the wrong place.” Small said he expects his trip to cost $4,000, perhaps more if he has to spend nights in motels like he did in Dalhart. “The wind was really bad in Dalhart and my tent poles broke, so I had to spend money on a motel room,” he said. “Fortunately I called a representative from the company that sold me my tent and they found someone here in Tucumcari to bring me new poles to my campsite near Nara Visa last night.”

Small said he will basically be on his own throughout the entire trek. His ex-wife, however, said she is planning to meet him when he enters San Francisco. “My ex-wife said she will meet me,” he said. “We are working on getting back together. We’ll have to see.” It took over twenty years for Small to begin the trip he said he has dreamed about for so long. “I’ve been wanting to do this for so long, I finally decided to just do it,” he said. “My ultimate destination will be Tucson after touring the Pacific coast.” Small said he hopes to settle in Tucson eventually.

“The people at my job back in Kansas City said they would be glad to take me back after the trip, but I’m not going back to Kansas City,” he said. “I’ll find work. I figure there will be plenty of people in Tucson who would hire a guy who has cycled all over the western United States.”