This article has always stuck in my mind because the photo is excellent… and the photographer, John Delzell, was kind enough to give me an 8×10 glossy. Most newspaper images are forever lost to me, and I’m grateful to have this perfect shot of the original Winnebiko.
by Jennifer Thomas and John Delzell
Palatka Daily News
March 8, 1984
Cyclist Steven Roberts of Columbus, Ohio, stopped in Palatka Wednesday on his tour of the United States and Canada in his self-designed bike which he calls a “Winnebiko or lawnchair bike.” Roberts, a freelance writer and a computer expert, is taking a cross country tour of the southern United States and southern Canada. In the top photo, Roberts checks his word processor. In bottom photo, he demonstrates his unusual bike. See story on Page 2A. (Daily News photos by John Delzell.)
Biker plans book on 14,000-mile trek
Steven K. Roberts, of Columbus, Ohio, stopped briefly in Palatka Wednesday to take a dinner break before resuming his cross-country bike tour of the southern United States and southern Canada.
When his tour is complete, he estimates he will have traveled 14,000 miles.
Roberts, who started his tour from Columbus five months ago, has gone about 3,500 miles so far, first traveling from Columbus to Key West on his two-wheeled bike which he designed himself. He averages about 70 miles per day.
The 31-year-old biker then hitchhiked a ride on a sailboat through the Gulf of Mexico to Clearwater and again resumed his bike tour to Gainesville where he has been visiting his cousin for the past month.
Roberts, a computer expert, designed a recumbent bike in which he sits in a chair. The design is not new, but it is not common, he said. It has been around for about 50 years.
He calls his bike a “Winnebiko,” or a “lawnchair bike.”
The 18-speed bike is equipped with solar-powered batteries that power a C.B. radio, a quartz halogen headlight, a vibration sensitive alarm system, a barricade flasher and yacht horn. It has drum brakes as well as rim brakes and under-the-seat steering.
Roberts is financing his trip through freelance writing. He has written three books on computers, including Creative Design with Microcomputers and Complete Guide to Microsystem Management. Currently he is working on Computing Across America.
He also writes about computers, bicycling and the people he meets, including his column for Online Today, a computer magazine.
He uses a Radio Shack Model 100 computer, a word processor with a memory, to compose his writings which he sends to his assistant in Ohio via modem or telephone lines. His assistant in turn sends it to the publisher.
Roberts owned an Ohio computer company, Cybertronics, for six years, before closing it and beginning his bike tour.
“I had taken something that I really loved doing and commercialized it,” he said. “That can have disastrous effects. So now I’m writing for a living.”
While in Gainesville, Roberts periodically traveled to Anastasia Park to keep in shape for his bike tour.
His philosophy behind the trip: “trying to resolve the old trade-off between freedom and security.”
“When you’re traveling for the sake of traveling, you have adventures everyday,” said Roberts who was interviewed Wednesday over a late lunch at Jerry’s Drive In in Palatka. “I’ll stop when I’m tired of it.”
Where will he travel next? Perhaps Europe.