When senior editor Tracy Staton pitched the idea of a contest to find the ultimate Road Warrior early last year, it seemed like a good way to get to know our readers a little better. And what an idea it was: Nearly 7,000 of you entered, providing enough material to fill an entire special issue dedicated to the 2001 American Way-Lincoln Road Warrior Search.

We read page after page of stories funny, sad, and sometimes scary; the tips were strategic, humorous, and occasionally a little, um, offbeat. But the best part was the entrants’ attitudes. Naturally, most had good attitudes (who wants a grumpy winner?), but the poignancy of the comments impressed us. Deep thoughts? Absolutely; our readers are profoundly philosophical. It takes a certain type of person to hit the road month in and month out and still like it. Someone with a bit of wanderlust, who craves the thrill of adventure, even if the unknown is merely a new client’s conference room. Of course these travelers miss their families and their own beds; of course they have mortgages and meetings back home. Still, they secretly think of themselves as modern-day warriors.

The world is a different place now than it was when we launched the contest. Traveling takes on a different tone now, evermore the adventure. But I was inspired by how many of you have contacted us in recent months to show support for the contest, the magazine, and the airline.

With that, I’m extremely proud to present this special issue. The entire staff worked hard on it, and I owe a special thank you to Tracy Staton for her leadership of the project from concept to execution. Senior editor Richelle Thomson played a huge role, too, traveling to every photo shoot to meet and write about the winners. They’ve touched almost every page in this magazine (and written a good part of it, too). Senior editor Jill Becker also did her part in helping judge, and sifted through thousands of entries to find the best excerpts. Throughout, marketing director Sharon McGrath and her team guided us through myriad ins and outs and do’s and don’ts to make this contest the best it could be.

This issue is filled with tips, tales, gadgets, and goodies, plus profiles of our four big winners. The usual favorites are all here as well, including Celebrated Weekend, featuring Austin with Lance Armstrong, a road warrior of a different sort.

Stay tuned for details on entering the 2002 Road Warrior Search coming soon, and let us know what you think.