Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2015

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geography and Geology

Committee Chair

David Cochran

Committee Chair Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 2

Joby Bass

Committee Member 2 Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 3

Jeffrey Kaufmann

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


The purpose of this research was to examine the mobility that has become associated with the Trans-America Trail (TAT). I explored the ways this motorcycle route changes across space, how the characteristics of adventure motorcyclists have created the representation of the TAT, and how the mobility of this route can be described in terms of Cresswell's six politics of mobility––motivation, speed, rhythm, route, experience, and friction. Using a mixed methods approach, I measured quantitative characteristics of the route using maps and GIS; I used ethnographic methods collected from my own trip across the TAT to understand the landscape and the interaction of people on the route; and I used rider narratives and photographs to understand the motives, travel, and experiences of TAT travelers. My results show the TAT as a distinct cultural landform that has been given meaning by the adventure motorcycling community based on landscape characteristics, social relationships, and a distinctive movement pattern built on motivation and experience.