Friday, September 21, 2018

Truckee Waypoint Hosting

We are pleased to announce the Truckee California Information Center in partnership with the Truckee Donner Historical Society, have joined the Project as the hosting authority for the 520.2 Truckee Wyman waypoint.   The California Welcome Center is housed in the historic Truckee Depot.
Truckee California Information & Welcome Center
Ruth Gersey, Director of Operations at the California Welcome Center and Chaun Mortier, Research Historian at the Truckee Donner Historical Society are working together to mount the Wyman memorial plaque, Journey and Waypoint posters inside the Truckee Depot.  Located along the historic Donner Pass road in the center of the Truckee historic district, the Depot is visited by 100,000s of people each year.

Thank you, Dave McQueeney for sponsoring the Wyman memorial plaque at the 520.2 Truckee waypoint.

Here, in Wyman's own words is the account of his journey from the hotel at the Donner Pass summit to Truckee on Wednesday, May 20, 1903.

"The next day, May 20, promised more pleasure, or, rather, I fancied that it did so, l knew that I could go no higher and with dark, damp, dismal snow sheds and the miles of wearying walking behind me, and a long downgrade before me, my fancy had painted a pleasant picture of, if not smooth, then easy sailing. When I sought my motor bicycle in the morning the picture received its first blur. My can of lubricating oil was missing. The magnificent view that the tip top the mountains afforded lost its charms. I had eyes not even for Donner Lake, the "gem of the Sierras," nestling like a great, lost diamond in its setting of fleecy snow and tall, gaunt pines.

Oil such as I required was not to be had on the snowbound summit nor in the untamed country ahead, and oil I must have - or walk, and walk far. I knew that my supply was in its place just after emerging from the snow sheds the night before, and I reckoned therefore that the now prized can had dropped off in the snow, and I was determined to hunt for it. I trudged back a mile and a half. Not an inch of ground or snow escaped search; and when at last a dark object met my gaze I fairly bounded toward it. It was my oil! I think I now know at least a thrill of the joy experienced by the traveler on the desert who discovers an unsuspected pool.

Donner Snow Shed, c.1890
The oil, however was not of immediate aid. It did not help me get through the dark, damp, dismal tunnel, 1,700 feet long, that afforded the only means of egress from Summit. I walked through that, of course, and emerging, continued to walk, or rather, I tried to walk. Where the road should have been was a wide expanse of snow - deep snow. As there was nothing else to do, I plunged into it and floundered, waded, walked, slipped, and slid to the head of Donner Lake. It took me an hour to cover the short distance. At the Lake the road cleared and to Truckee, 10 miles down the canyon, was in excellent condition for this season of the year. The grade drops 2,400 feet in the 10 miles, and but for the intelligent Truckee citizens I would have bidden good-bye to the Golden State long before I finally did so.

Truckee to Boca RR crossing
USGS, c. 1905
The best and shortest road to Reno? The intelligent citizens, several of them agreed on the route, and I followed their directions. The result: Nearly two hours later and after riding 21 miles, I reached Bovo(sic), six miles by rail from Truckee. After that experience I asked no further information, but sought the crossties, and although they shook me up not a little, I made fair time to Verdi, 14 miles. 

Verdi is the first town in Nevada and about 40 miles from the summit of the Sierras. Looking backward the snow-covered peaks are plainly visible, but one is not many miles across the State line before he realizes that California and Nevada, though they adjoin, are as unlike as regards soil, topography, climate, and all else as two countries between which an ocean rolls. Nevada is truly the "Sage Brush State." The scrubby plant marks its approach, and in front, behind, to the right, to the left, on the plains, the hills, everywhere, there is sage brush. It is almost the only evidence of vegetation, and as I left the crossties and traveled the main road, the dull green of the plant had grown monotonous long before I reached Reno, once the throbbing pivot of the gold-seeking hordes attracted by the wealth of the Comstock lodes, located in the mountains in the distance. That most of Reno's glory has departed did not affect my rest that night."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Sierra's and Through the Snow Sheds" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, June 1903, Vol 1 No 1
San Francisco, CA to Reno, NV
May 16 to May 20, 1903

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Wyman Tribute on the Salt Flats

Wyman rode a 1902 'California' motor bicycle across America in 1903.  Today, the sport of motor bicycling is alive thanks to small groups of enthusiasts.  One such group is the Motor-Assisted Bicycle Forum.  Despite the technological advances of two wheeled vehicles over the years, these enthusiasts focus on modifying the basic bicycle with small displacement motors.  Motorized bicycling is a two-wheeled sport with roots going back the birth of the motorcycle at the turn of the last century.

Speeding across the Bonneville Salt Flats

'Sabrina 2'  Motorized Bicycle, #T1903
Members of the Motor-Assisted Bicycle Forum have entered Sabrina 2 in the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association - 130 MPH Club. This racing class is specifically for vehicles with a top speed less than 130 MPH.  The One Mile rookie track is a 'time only' event.  Sabrina 2's 3.25hp single-speed belt-drive is reminiscent of early motorcycles up to around 1920, and the crew expects to post competitive speeds in this class.   Speed/Time trials of the Sabrina 2 begin daily,  9am to 6pm Friday, September 14th and run through Sunday, September 16th.  If in the area, you are welcome to stop by and watch the Sabrina 2 go through her time trials.  Wyman Waypoint patches available from the Sabrina 2 pit crew.
  • Rider Jimmy Brackett 
  • Owner/builder Augie Deabler 
  • Co-conspirator Pete Rasmussen 

You Are Invited!
Post racing celebrations will start at 11 am Tuesday, September 18th at Ogden's Union Grill, site of LH Becraft bicycle shop where Wyman stopped on May 28, 1903.  Restaurateur Laura D'Hulst is rumored to have some special Wyman themed dishes for all who attend.  Wyman Waypoint patches available from the Sabrina 2 pit crew.

Wyman Waypoint - 528.2 LH Becraft Bicycle Shop
Sponsored by Motor-Assisted Bicycle members
Waypoint Patch

Sabrina 2 Sponsors 

The George A. Wyman Memorial Project, Honorary Sponsor

Jim "TheWheelmaster" Burkman

Union Grill Ogden Utah

Golden Eagle Bike Engines

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Merit of Wyman's Performance

George A. Wyman as he Appeared
at the end of his Cross-Continent Ride

(The following article appeared in The Motorcycle Magazine in November, 1903)

It is doubtful if even those motorcyclists who have followed the story of George A. Wyman's trip across the continent, form San Francisco to New York, which was concluded in the Motorcycle Magazine last month, appreciate fully how exceptionally excellent a performance it was.  Now that the narrative has been completed and a review of the whole trip can be taken, it stands out in its entirety as a supreme triumph for the motor bicycle.  It was not only the most notable long distance record by a motorcycle, but also it was the greatest long trip made in this country by any sort of a motor vehicle.  This is a fact to which attention was not called by Wyman in his story and it is one that should be emphasized.  In fact, Wyman's story was altogether too modest throughout.

No motor vehicle, other than Wyman's motor bicycle, has made the trip across the American continent within 50 days.  Several automobiles, large and small, carrying a couple of men, have made the trip across the continent since Wyman showed the way, but none has done it in so short a time as he did, so that he has the credit not only of being the first to bring a motor vehicle across the continent, but also for holding the best record time for the performance.

In calculating Wyman's time as 50 days the time was taken from the day he left San Francisco until that on which he reached New York, and in this injustice was done, because Wyman let San Francisco lat in the afternoon on May 16, and simply crossed the bay to Vallejo, where he stayed the night.  He arrived in New York City early in the afternoon on July 6, and so his total time, counting the morning of May 17, when he left Vallejo, was only 49 days, and even then no allowance is made for nearly half a d on July 6 that he was in New York City.  This is, of course, the total elapsed time.  The time lost by Wyman when he was not riding sums up to 11 days, making his net riding time 38 days, and there were circumstances particularly extenuating about his loss of time.  The records of the automobilists(sic) who have since made the trip from ocean to ocean are not only poorer than those of Wyman, but are much poorer.  Dr. H.N. Jackson, who was the first to make the trip in an automobile, was 63 days in doing it.  He left San Francisco on May 23 and arrive in New York July 25.  He had a car of 20 horsepower.  E.T. Fetch, with a 12-horsepower automobile took 61 day for the trip, leaving San Francisco June 20 and reaching New York August 21.  L.L. Whitman, the third and, up to date, the last to perform the journey, required 73 days with a runabout of five-horsepower.

Wyman had a bicycle weighing only 90 pounds with a motor on it of 1-1/4 rated horsepower.  When he lost time by laying-to during a storm it was more excusable than in the case of men with a motor many times more powerful on a car built high enough to chary the rider through ordinarily small floods dryshod(sic), and strong enough to resist the wrenching caused by the corduroy roads of the West.  Another feature of Wyman's feat that adds greatly to the credit of it is that he was alone.  Through all the dreary deserts and mountain fastnesses, he had no companion to cheer and encourage him; no one to join in the laugh and jest that reduces the apparent magnitude of the obstacles; no one to help him pull his machine out of the mud, or lift it over boulders.  Moreover, he had no shelter from the sun and rain and wind, as had all the others, in the form of big umbrellas, and he could not wear a long rubber coat as could those who rode in the automobiles.  He had no one to help him make a repair or an adjustment.  When his ears were frozen, as the were one morning in May, he could not turn over the operation of his bicycle to a companion and give attention to himself.  He had to dismount, and as his vehicle was one that would not stand alone, and there was not a post of building near against which to lean it, he had to carefully shut off his motor, find a suitable place, and carefully lay it down.  He was alone, utterly, drearily alone, with the solitude of the deserts and the mountains and all the strenuousness of his undertaking constantly confronting him.

While the automobiles had some advantage in being better able to withstand the racking strain of rough roads because of greater weight, and better able to push through sandy and muddy stretches because of higher horsepower, the advantages of the motorcycle over the four-wheelers were many and manifest.  Being a single-tracking vehicle, it had a wider range of variation in picking the best part of the roads, or trails, and could often find fair going at the edge of a muddy highway, where the four-wheelers had no choice, but to force the wheels, on one side at least, through the heavy going.  Again, it was possible for Wyman to lift his vehicle bodily from the ground and also to take to the railroad and ride between the ties or over then, which he did for about half the distance travelled.  His greatest delay was that of five days, when he waited at Chicago for a motor crankshaft to be received from San Francisco.  This should not have happened, for there was an agency for the motor bicycle Wyman was using in Chicago, and he reasonably expected to be able to get any part he wanted there.

The contrast between the trip of the motor bicycle and those made by the automobiles stands out sharply when it is remembered what expedients were frequently resorted to by the operators of the four-wheeled cars.  One carried a block and tackle and resorted to its use repeatedly.  The drivers put on big canvas flaps over the tires, or laid canvas strips for the wheels by hand over the desert sand in order to make headway in the desert.  Time and time again they were obliged to call upon men with horses to help them out of the mud or sand holes.  One of them was followed halfway across the continent by a factory expert, who used the railroad trains to go from town to town and thus remain within call when help or repairs were required.  Wyman had help only once during his whole trip, that time being when he was mired near Laramie.  The adaptability to circumstances of the man with a motor bicycle was shown when Wyman, driven from the tracks of one railroad a hundred feet to one side and "toted" his bicycle.  At another time, when driven from the tracks, he walked through a big grain field a mile or two to the highway.  Such things were impossible for the four-wheelers.

On the whole, Wyman's ride and the record he made is one that seems to demonstrate the superiority of the motor bicycle over any other style of vehicle for courier services.  Wyman's bicycle gave out utterly as a motor vehicle at Albany, and he finished by pedalling into New York, travelling over the steep hills of the Hudson River shore.  This would not have been possible for any of those who made the trip in automobiles.  Had their vehicles given out, as Wyman's did, their trip would have been ended there.

It is when the availability of the motor bicycle and the automobile for military service are considered and compared that Wyman's performance stands out in the most superior way.  Even when his motor was giving trouble and he was travelling at his slowest rate, he was doing better than a horse could have done, and his average daily headway was much better than that of any of the big cars.  Great value attaches to the trip because of the data and suggestions it affords to military authorities.  There in no reason why Wyman should not have had an extra motor crankshaft with him.  He could have carried a complete supply of new parts much easier than an automobile than an automobile could.  Allowing that under military conditions it would have been possible to have obtained parts along the road, as all the automobiles did , he still would have had an advantage, because it takes less time to make a repair on a bicycle than on a four-wheeled motor vehicle.  It would seem that in time of war when railroads are not available that two men, each on a light motor bicycle, would be the best possible dispatch bearers.  If there were to on the errand time would be saved because of the assistance one could give to the other in making repairs, and because they would make pace turn and turn about.  In case of serious mishap to either man there would be the other to on on, and if one bicycle was seriously damaged the other could continue, while if both cycles were much damaged the probability is that by rearing one apart the patch the other it could be made fit to complete the journey.

It is not often these days, even during war, that such a long and strenuous journey would be required of any man and vehicle.  Wyman's record stands, however, as a demonstration of what is possible under extremely unusual circumstances.  The demonstration teaches also that much better time will be possible with the experiences of the first attempt to guide.  In whatever way the Wyman trip is viewed, it must be conceded to be a triumphant demonstration of the practicability and many sidedness(sic) of the motor bicycle as well as an everlasting credit to the plucky young man who performed the feat.       

The Motorcycle Magazine, November 1903, Volume1, Number 6 (Digitized PDF)
The Merit of Wyman's Performance
A contemporary (1903) evaluation of the historic Wyman journey.

Read "The Story Behind the Headlines"

Return to the Across America on a Motor Bicycle page

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Epilogue - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

New York Motor Cycle Club
"While I slept at the Herald Square Hotel, my ride really ended at the New York Motor Cycle Club's rooms, No. 1904 Broadway. It was there I left the faithful little machine that had carried me some 3,800 miles. What was the exact distance  I never will be able to tell, because, as previously related, after breaking four cyclometers, I ceased to bother with the mileage.

Compared with the first cycling journey across the continent, that of Thomas Stevens in 1882, the first effort of the motor bicycle does not suffer. Mr. Stevens required 103 1/2 days to ride from San Francisco to Boston; my journey was completed in 50 days. While the idea of establishing a record was no part of my purpose, it is worthy of remark that none of the three powerful automobiles that have since crossed the continent have come near to equaling my time. With the experience gained and with a more powerful machine - the one I used was of but 1¼ horsepower - I feel confident that the journey from ocean to ocean can be made in 30 days without particularly strenuous effort. With a railway attachment, such as is in common use by bicyclists in the West, and which would permit the use of rails across the deserts of Nevada, it will be possible to more than realize the 30 days' estimate.

Wyman "Pose"
While it is true that my forks broke and the motor crank axle also gave way, these are unusual accidents; nearly all of my other troubles were minor ones, the belt being a most prolific source. But, as a whole, the motor behaved splendidly and performed its work well under many trying conditions. Its failure at Albany was really the only occasion when it gave me serious concern. Subsequent examination proved that the inlet valve had in some way become jammed so as to be immovable, at least with the means at my command. Between fear of breaking something and anxiety to reach New York, I possibly did not take the chances at making a strenuous repair that under other circumstances I would have taken. Save the forks, the bicycle also stood up well. The wonder is that it stood up at all, so terrific and so frequent was the pounding it received in the many miles of cross-tie travel. The saddle, too, deserves praise. Despite its many drenchings and mud and the heat of the desert and the banging of the railroad ties, it did not stretch or sag the fractional part of an inch, and reached New York in as good condition as when it left San Francisco."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Friday, July 6, 2018

July 6 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(New York City)

"After riding two days and a night under leg power or rather over it, I reached
"Josh" interview
Broadway & W. 195th Street
New York in the middle of the afternoon on July 6. I made frequent stops to rest and I attracted more than a little attention but I was too tired to care. I can smile now as I recall the sight I was with my overalls on, my face and hands black as a mulatto's, my coat torn and dirty, a big piece of wood tied on with rope where my handlebars should be, and the belt hanging loose from the crankshaft. I was told that I was "picturesque" by a country reporter named "Josh," who captured me for an interview a little way up the Hudson, and who kept me talking while the photographer worked his camera, but to my ideal, I was too dirty to be picturesque. At any rate, I was too tired then to care. All I wanted was a hot bath and a bed. 

But before I got these I had to telephone to The Motorcycle Magazine to learn where to go and wait to have more cameras pointed at me before being escorted to my hostelry. Of all the sleep I had during my trip, none was more profound, or sweeter than the one I had that night of July 6 at the Herald Square Hotel, just 50 days after I left San Francisco for my ride across the continent on my motor bicycle."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Thursday, July 5, 2018

July 5 - Across America on a Motorcycle Bicycle

(Albany to New York City, NY)

NYC Arrival
5700 Broadway
"As I could not make the motor work, I concluded on the morning of July 5 to make myself work. I started to pedal in to New York. That last 150 miles down the Hudson from Albany is a part of my trip of which I will always have a vivid recollection. I had seen some hills before, but the motor climbed them for me. In the hills along the Hudson, I had to climb and push the motor along. They seemed steeper than the Rocky Mountains. This I will say, though - from the time  I left the Pacific coast I saw no grander scenery than that along the Hudson River. While other sights were not up to expectation, the scenery of the Hudson was far beyond it.  So enthusiastic was I that I pedaled along all night on July 5. It was a long, dreary and strenuous ride, but I was well seasoned by this time and fit to do a mule's work."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Delayed in Albany, NY)

"On the Fourth of July my first move in the morning was to a bicycle store, where  I got a new tire and put in 14 new spokes, and then took the motor apart. The piston rings were worn pretty thin but looked as if they would still give service, so at 2:30 p.m. I started from Albany. Four miles out, I gave it up. The motor would not explode as it should. I went back to the bicycle store in Albany and worked on the problem there until night. Then I went to see the fireworks and forget about it."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 3 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Canastota to Albany, NY)

"At 7 a.m. on July 3, I started from Canastota; determined to get to Albany, at least, that day. I had trouble from the start. I relaced the belt seven times during the forenoon, and then I spliced it with a new piece at Little Falls. I was still 40 miles from Albany when my handlebars broke off on one side. I had been there a couple of times before during the trip, and it did not take me long to lash a stick across the steering stem. Soon after, the piston began to squeak, and I discovered that the rings on it were worn out. Oil was of no avail, and I rode on with the squeak for company. Six miles from Albany, while I was on the towpath, the rear tire blew out. There was a hole in it that would admit a hand. I walked into Albany. Some of the remarks I made to myself as I walked were not fit for quoting to a Sunday school class. My distance that day was 135 miles. This was to be my last day of big mileage though.

All the way through New York state I used the cycle path without a license. It was not until after my trip ended that I knew I had been violating the law."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Monday, July 2, 2018

July 2 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Cayuga to Canastota, NY)

Mansfield Hotel, Cayuga, c.1900
"I left Cayuga at 8 a.m. and took my troubles with me, The batteries were growing  weak; first the cyclets(sic) of the belt broke and then the lacing; next the crank axle got out of true, and every time it struck, the belt broke. I had these troubles all day. Toward night the belt broke five times in one mile. I got some new batteries at Syracuse, but after going two miles on them they would not yield a spark, so I went back and returned them, and after a search I managed to get some good batteries. The fates seemed in a conspiracy to prevent my getting to New York before July 4. The motor was getting in such shape that I realized I would be lucky if I could finish with it at all. To add to my troubles these two days from Rochester, July 1 and 2, were terribly hot and I was nearly prostrated by the heat. I managed to make 65 miles and get to Canastota by 9:30 p.m. on the  second, and as that was the day I had hoped to be in the metropolis, I did not go to bed in any cheerful humor."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Sunday, July 1, 2018

July 1 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Rochester to Cayuga, NY)

"It took until 11:30 o'clock the next day, July 1, to get the motor working, and then I started from Rochester with C.O. Green, superintendent of the Regas Company, and W.L. Stoneburn, the bookkeeper, riding with me as an escort. They accompanied me 20 miles to Fairport. over roads so muddy as to be nearly impassible. Not far from Fairport, when I was alone again the hoodoo asserted itself. First the connecting rod worked loose, and soon after the belt ends gave way. I lost as little time as possible, however, and at night I reached Cayuga, with the satisfaction of having covered 70 miles during the short day."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Saturday, June 30, 2018

June 30 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Buffalo to Rochester, NY)

"I left Buffalo at 5:20 a.m., determined, if possible, to get to New York by July 2. and join in the endurance run to Worcester that started on the third. After I had gone 10 miles the lacing holes in the belt broke away again. I then put on the old original belt with which I had started from San Francisco and which I had removed at Chicago. but still carried with me. Everything went finely for the next few miles, and then the connecting rod of the motor broke. Everything seemed to me to be going to pieces. There was nothing for it then but to pedal, and I churned away for five miles into Batavia. It was only 9 a.m. when I got there, and it took until 3:30 p.m. to get the repairs made so that I could start again. 

It went all right until I was 12 miles from Rochester, and then the valves got to working so poorly that I could not make more than five miles an hour with it. I managed to reach a cycle store in Rochester, and there I went to work, intending to get it fixed and ride half the night to make up for lost time. It was of no use. I worked until 11 p.m., and then gave it up until morning. I realized then that the motor and bicycle were suffering from crystallization. There were no flaws or defects of any sort in the parts that were breaking. They were just giving out all at once, like the Deacon's famous shay that lasted him so well and so long and was not weaker in any one part than in another. In spite of all my troubles, I had made 80 miles that day, and I still had hopes of being in New York in time for the fireworks."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Friday, June 29, 2018

June 29 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Angola to Buffalo, NY)

"I spent two hours in a repair shop in Angola the next morning, June 29, and at the end of that time the repairer pronounced the forks mended sufficiently to carry me through to New York. I did not feel as confident about this as the repairman did. I got to Buffalo by 11 o'clock, and after a visit to the post office,
E.R.Thomas Factory
I rode out to the E. R. Thomas automobile and motor bicycle factory. There I met Mr. F. R. Thomas for the first time, and I must pay a tribute to his generous hospitality, which I shall always remember. His kindness was all the more magnanimous when it is remembered that I was riding the product of a rival maker. The first thing Mr. Thomas did was to send my bicycle inside and have it seen to that it was supplied with oil and gasoline. Then he learned that my forks were in bad shape, and he ordered men to get to work and make a new pair for it and finish them at night. The men worked in the factory until 9 o'clock that night on my forks, and had them ready for me to make an early start in the morning. For all this Mr. Thomas. would not accept payment. In the meantime he showed me through his factory, and then lent me an Auto-Bi, on which I took a trip about the city."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Thursday, June 28, 2018

June 28 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Conneaut, OH to Angola, NY)

"My hoodoo was with me all the next day. I left Conneaut at 7:30 a.m., and before  I had gone quite 10 miles the oil began to leak out of the crankcase, although I had done my best to make it tight and seal it with white lead the night before. The belt again gave out and I had my own profane troubles with these two defects all day. First it was the oil, and then the belt, and I became so disgusted before noon that I felt like shooting the whole machine full of holes and deserting it. This was my first visit to Pennsylvania - for I been riding in the little 50-mile strip of the Keystone Stare that borders on Lake Erie ever since leaving Conneaut - and I can say that all my Pennsylvania experiences were hard ones. The roads were fairly good and for most of the way I rode on footpaths at the side of the road. The view from the road with the luxuriant verdure clad bluffs on one side and the horizon bounded expanse of the great lake on the other side was as magnificent as I had seen. It reminded me of the good old Pacific.

By afternoon I had crossed the Pennsylvania strip and at last was in New York state. It seemed as if I was nearing home then, but it is a big state, and I came to realize the truth of the song that "its a blanked long walk to the gay Rialto in New York." I didn't have to walk, but walking would have been easier than the way I traveled from the western boundary of the Empire State to the metropolis. It was on the afternoon of June 28 that I entered the state, and it was eight days later before I got to the confines of the great city.

USGS, c.1899
I had hoped to reach Buffalo on the day I left Conneaut but was still 25 miles from the Queen City when my troubles climaxed by the breaking of a fork side. The crystallization resulting from the continuous pounding was telling again. I walked two miles to Angola, and there sought a telegraph office, and wired Chicago for a pair of new forks. I learned that I would not be able to get a pair there for two days, because they would have to go first to Buffalo and then be reshipped to Angola. I therefore determined to get the forks repaired there if possible, and make them do till I got to Buffalo. It is a fortunate thing that I was not riding fast or going downhill when the fork side broke. I was told that automobiles and motor bicycles frequently traveled the road that I took from Chicago to New York, but the behavior of the natives belied it. People all came running out of the houses when I passed, and they stared as if they never had seen a motor bicycle before."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June 27 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Cleveland to Conneaut, OH)

"It was on the day I left Cleveland, June 27, that my troubles began to come thick and fast. I started from Cleveland at 10 a.m. and had gone only a mile when the lacing holes in my driving belt gave way and I had to stop and relace. For the first five miles the road was fine, and then I came to a stretch where the road was being rebuilt and I had to walk for a mile and a half. After that, I had a plank road for six miles, and then it was sandy for 30 miles, all the way to Geneva. From there to Conneaut, 22 miles, the road was good in places, with occasional stretches of clay and sand, through which it was hard going. It was a dreary day of travel through a pretty farming country, where the ranchers seemed to be as heavywitted as the cattle. The belt broke five times during the afternoon, and the last time I fixed it I laced It with two inches of space between the ends in order to make it reach. 

I passed through town after town, where I wondered what the people did for recreation. There was nothing for them to do after their day's work but to walk around the block and then go to bed. One thing I noticed is that it is a poor country for shoemakers for nearly everyone I saw, men, women and children, were barefooted. It was plain that much of the country I saw was settled by immigrant farmers from Germany and other parts of Europe. I made only 75 miles this day. When I arrived in Conneaut, I got a piece of belting at a bicycle store and spliced my troublesome piece of driving leather. Then I discovered that the screws in the crankcase of the motor were all loose, so I put in some white lead and tightened them. It was so late by this time that I concluded to remain at Conneaut that night."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 26 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Perrysburg to Cleveland, OH)

"From Perrysburg I got a 7 o'clock start, but soon discovered that I did not have any more lubricating oil than enough to last for 30 miles. By economizing I managed to reach Tremont(sic Fremont) where I got some oil at a machine shop. It was so thick that I had to heat it before it would run, but it was better than nothing. After leaving Fremont the roads began to grow very poor. There had been several days of rain on them Just before I came along and as they were simply dirty roads for repeated stretches of 10 miles or more the mud was deep and wide.

Near Amherst about 30 miles west of Cleveland I got my first reminder of the one-horse story and a foretaste of what was in store for me. The truss on the front forks of my bicycle broke. When I stopped to remove the remains of it, I found that it had crystallized so that it was like a piece of old rusty iron. It broke in several places like a stick of rotten wood. That was the effect of the terrible pounding the machine had received over the railroad ties.  It occurred to me at the time that the whole machine must have suffered similarly, but it did not show signs of disintegrating at the time, and I concluded it would carry me to New York. After leaving Elyria, 25 miles from Cleveland, I struck a good sidepath that continued for 20 miles. It was only six inches wide in places, but those few inches spelled salvation for me, because the road was so heavy with sand that if I had not had the path to ride I would have had to have walked for long stretches. Just out of Elyria I met an automobile, and it was having a hard time of it. It was all the engine could do to keep it moving. The last five miles into Cleveland I went over the best roads I ever had ridden on anywhere in my life.

It was 7 p.m. when I reached Cleveland. and my first move was to hunt up an automobile station in order to get some oil. At the Oldsmobile branch I found what I wanted, and they gave me enough to last for 300 miles, all I cared to carry, in fact. They took a lively interest in me and my bicycle and examined my motor carefully. Like everyone else, though, they had to be shown the photographs of my start from San Francisco before fully accepting my statement that I had come from California. My distance for this day, to Cleveland, was 121 miles, and I used five quarts of gasoline."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Monday, June 25, 2018

June 25 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Ligonier, IN to Perrysburg, OH)

"At 8.a.m. On June 25 I left Ligonier and struck out over a sand road, through a rolling and fertile farming country, to Wawaka, where I came to a stone road, and had good riding to Kendallville. East of that place, to Butler, the going was a good second to what I had in Iowa, which was the worst of anywhere that there were roads. Between Butler and Edgerton, after having ridden 48 miles from Ligonier, I crossed the state line into Ohio. The road improved some then, but it was very bad in places all the way to Swanton. at which place I
Leaf Hotel, Perrysburg, OH c.1890
to the railroad for more comfort and fewer dismounts. I rode nine miles to Holland along the tracks, but the railroad bed was a poor one and about as rough riding as the road, so I returned to the highway and found a six-mile stretch of good road south to Miami(sic, Maumee). By taking this road I made a shortcut that saved me 15 miles, and did not therefore, see Toledo. I arrived at Perrysburg, Ohio, at 7 p.m. with 126 miles to my credit for the day.

The price of gasoline continued to decrease as I got East. In the morning of that day at Ligonier I had paid 10 cents for half a gallon; at Butler I got the same quantity for 8 cents, and at Swanton the  price was 7 cents. The table board did not improve, however. For me, with my vigorous Western appetite. the bounteous supply of plain food served by the little hotels in the Rocky Mountain country was much more satisfactory than anything I got East. The meals out in Nevada and Wyoming were much better than anything I got in Illinois, Indiana or Ohio, at the same price. Everywhere I stopped during this part of my trip a crowd gathered about me and my motorcycle, although neither the machine nor my self had any sign on telling our mission. Whenever I told someone in a crowd I had come from San Francisco there was at first open incredulity. The word was passed along, and they winked to one another, while staring impudently at me. At this stage of my journey I had with me, however, a copy of the June issue of The Motorcycle Magazine. with the story of my start from the coast and a picture. This convinced the doubters, and immediately my bicycle became the subject of unbounded curiosity, while I was the target of Gatling-gun fire of questions that it was impossible to answer satisfactorily. The consequence was I became more particular when and where I took the trouble to convince people of my feat.

About this time I began to feel the effects of my five days' rest in Chicago. That length of time led to my growing tender. and I was more saddle-sore at Perrysburg that night than at anytime before. I felt then as if I would have to finish with a hot water bag on the saddle."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Sunday, June 24, 2018

June 24 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Kensington, IL to Ligonier, IN)

Kensington Depot, c.1900
"In the morning I ordered and paid for some gasoline. What I got was a vile mixture of gasoline and something that was much  like linseed oil. I believe it was that, but I did not discover the imposition until after I had started. and I did not go back. A man who will sell such stuff has no conscience. Only a club will appeal to him, and I had no time to waste in fighting. I simply went on and made the best of it till I could get fresh gasoline elsewhere. The roads were heavy from recent rains when left Kensington at 6:45 a.m., and here in the smooth and "built up" east I had to resort to the trick I learned in the deserts of Nevada and Utah. I took to the railroad track, and rode 20 miles along the ties to the lake. I saved a considerable distance by following the railroad, and as I was seasoned to such riding, the bouncing did not hurt so much as the thought that I was having the same sort of traveling east of Chicago that I had west of Omaha. Well, it as a big country to build up and supply with good roads. Anyone who has made such a trip as I made can appreciate this in a fullness that others cannot. When this country is eventually built up with good roads it will be truly great and wonderful.

I left the railroad at Porter, Indiana, and got onto a road with a good rock bed, which lasted for several miles. The rains, which had so severely damaged the roads, had not hurt the crops much, so far as I could see. It was all a "ranching country," as we say in the West - farming they call it in the East - through which I was passing at this stage, and it looked flourishing. I reached La Porte at noon, and lunched there, having made 55 miles in the forenoon. I had been keeping company with a smell like that of burning paint all the morning. It came from the mixture that I was exploding in the motor. I got fresh gasoline at La Porte, and at least had an honest smell for my money after that. I passed through Goshen at 5 p.m., and reached Ligonier, where I stopped for the night, at 6:30 p.m. The roads began to get better after I left La Porte, and the last 19 miles of this day's run were made in an hour and 10 minutes.

I thought that when I got east of Chicago folks would know what a motor
Calvin Street, Ligonier, IN c.1900
bicycle  is, but it was not so. In every place through which I passed, I left behind a gaping lot of natives, who ran out into the street to stare after me. When I reached Ligonier I rode through the main street, and by mistake went past the hotel where wanted to stop. When I turned and rode back the streets looked as though there was a circus in town. All the shopkeepers were out on the sidewalks to see the motor bicycle, and small boys were as thick as flies in a country restaurant. When I dismounted in front of the hotel the crowd became so big and the curiosity so great that I deemed it best to take the bicycle inside. The boys manifested a desire to pull it apart to see how it was made. There was really more curiosity about my motor bicycle in the eastern towns than in the wilds of the Sierras. The mountaineers are surprised at nothing, and seemed to have caught from the Indians the self-containment that disdains to manifest the slightest curiosity. Although when spoken to about it, the Westerners would frankly admit they never saw such a machine before, yet they turned toward me on my first appearance stolid countenances with which they gazed at the sky and the surrounding landscape. This day, when I reached Ligonier, June 24, I had made 130 miles."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Saturday, June 23, 2018

June 23 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Chicago to Kensington, IL)

"It was not until the morning of this day, June 23, that I got my new motor crank by express, and it took me nearly all day to fit it and get the engine together again. I lost no time in getting away from the Windy City. I did not want to stop there one hour longer than I was obliged to do. I left there that same evening.

I would "blow in" to New York in a week or so. The worst roads I knew must surely be behind me, and, with better highways, I calculated that I would have no more trouble with my motor bicycle. I reckoned without thought of the cumulative effects of the continuous battering that the machine was receiving. It has proven itself a wonderfully staunch steed, but no vehicle could stand what I imposed upon the 90-pound vehicle, nor should any be expected to do so. Before I got through with my trip I had, as will he seen, a vivid personal experience that put me into thorough sympathy with the Deacon and his one-horse shay.

As I have said, I did not want to remain in Chicago one minute longer than was necessary. and accordingly I left there at 5:30 p.m., on June 23, and made my way to Kensington, 23 miles east."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 20-22 - Across America on a Motorcycle

(Layover in Chicago, IL)

"I was thoroughly disgusted with Chicago from that time on. I eventually went to a hotel where everything was all right, but my dislike of Chicago increased during the five days of my stay there. It rained nearly every day, and the soot from the soft coal smoke nearly strangled me, after my being accustomed to the pure air of the mountains. The things that impressed me most in Chicago were the way that the inhabitants ran about the streets as if they were lost or going to a fire, and the number of drunken men and women in the streets. I never saw so much drunkenness In my life anywhere before. I went to some of the theatres, but my impression of the city was not helped by that. I simply abhorred the place." 

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Along The Shores Of The Great Lakes And Down The Hudson To New York" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, October 1903, Vol 1 No 5
Chicago, IL to New York City
June 20 to July 6, 1903

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

June 19 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Naperville to Chicago, IL)

"I was on fine stone roads by this time, and only 25 miles from Chicago. I pedaled Into the Windy City in five and a half hours the next day, June 19. As may be imagined, I was tired after pedaling 25 miles, and not only physically weary, but I was mentally dejected because of the accident to my motor. On the outskirts of the city I sat down on the curb to rest and meditate, and I was aroused by a local rider who, fancying I was in trouble, stopped to offer assistance.

Once I was fairly in Chicago I sought to get a new motor crank, but found there was none to be had, so I telegraphed to San Francisco for one. The motor crank was the last thing that was expected to break. I had parts of every sort excepting that one along with me, and these were unused, while the one thing I could not replace was the one that broke. This showed that one never can tell what to expect in a cross-country journey of this sort.

After telegraphing for the motor crank I knew I would have to lay up in Chicago for a while, so I went out to engage lodgings. I found a nice-looking boarding house, and chose it in preference to a hotel. I engaged board for four days. When I made a light in the room, however, I found I had company - insects in the bed as big as canary birds. At least they looked that big to me. I hastily decamped with my few belongings, and walked the streets for three hours, feeling timid about making another attempt to get accommodations. "

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Through The Valleys Of The Two Great Rivers To Chicago" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, September 1903, Vol 1 No 4
Omaha, NE to Chicago, IL
June 12 to June 19, 1903

Monday, June 18, 2018

June 18 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Clinton, IA to Naperville, IL)

Lyons-Fulton Bridge, c.1898
"At Clinton I was nearing Chicago, within 150 miles of it, and on the morning of June 18, when I left Clinton, Ia, at 6:30 a.m., I hoped to reach it before noon on the following day. Shortly after leaving Dixon(sic. Clinton)  about two miles, I crossed the "Father of Waters" and was at last east of the Mississippi and into Illinois, where I was told at the start I never would get with my motor bicycle. The roads improved at once after crossing the great river, though I had some difficulty finding the correct one going out of Fulton, Illinois. The country in general also improved. The soil was darker and more fertile looking, and the farms had a thriving look about them that was superior to anything I had seen since leaving Sacramento. I chose the road on the north side of the Rock River, and remained on that side until I crossed the river at Dixon.

Persons of whom I made inquiry at Dixon advised me that the best thing I could do was to take the old Chicago stage road. I did so, and that road will be ever memorable to me, for on it my troubles broke out afresh. I rode from Dixon, which Is 99 miles from Chicago. Southeast about 45 miles to Earlville, and then rode northeast about 25 miles toward Aurora.

A great part of the road was so poor that I wished I had stayed on the railroad, and I learned afterward that I might have ridden on roads much nearer the tracks. Still, other parts of the road were good and I made fair time. I was getting near Aurora when the crank of my motor broke. This was the most serious accident that had happened to me, and it meant trouble. There was no possible way of repairing the damage, so, like the steamer that breaks its engine and hoists sail, I resorted to the pedals, and mighty glad I was that I had fixed the coaster brake at Cedar Rapids, so that I could pedal and did not have to walk. I pedaled about 10 miles before nightfall, and then put up at a little store at a crossroads, where they gave me accommodation for the night."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Through The Valleys Of The Two Great Rivers To Chicago" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, September 1903, Vol 1 No 4
Omaha, NE to Chicago, IL
June 12 to June 19, 1903

Sunday, June 17, 2018

June 17 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Clinton, IA)

Wyman did not account for his activities on June 17, 1903.  In the passage below, he states he departed the Stoddart Hotel in Marshalltown at 7 am, Tuesday, on "July 16"(sic - should be June 16), clearly a transcription error that made into the September 1903 issue of The Motorcycle Magazine.  (See page 145, right column, last paragraph)

"With my nerve fortified by a resolve to brazen it out with the section hands on the railroad, and a stock of interesting stories arranged in mind for their benefit, I left Marshalltown at 7 a.m. on July 16, and proceeded to the tracks of the Northwestern."

His last reference for Tuesday, June 16, is arriving in Clinton at 9 pm after riding some 85 miles that day.  (See last paragraph of page 146 to top paragraph of page 147)

"Darkness overtook me before I reached Clinton, and, being afraid of smashing into something. I walked the last few miles into that place, arriving at 9 p.m., after having covered eighty-five miles."

Wyman's next date/time reference is when he departs Clinton at 6:30 am on June 18, heading north to cross the Mississippi over the "Lyons-Fulton Bridge."  There is another transcription error in the reference to "Dixon" instead of Clinton.  Dixon is community east of and after going through Fulton, just across the Mississippi river.  Wyman goes on to mention "Fulton" correctly in the passage below.  (See page 147, first full paragraph)

"At Clinton I was nearing Chicago, within 150 miles of it, and on the morning of June 18, when I left Clinton, Ia, at 6:30 a.m., I hoped to reach it before noon on the following day. Shortly after leaving Dixon(sic. Clinton)  about two miles, I crossed the "Father of Waters" and was at last east of the Mississippi and into Illinois, where I was told at the start I never would get with my motor bicycle. The roads improved at once after crossing the great river, though I had some difficulty finding the correct one going out of Fulton, Illinois."

It is remarkable there are relatively so few transcription errors in the whole of the Wyman narrative.  If you think of the communication flow-process that was necessary to end in the final printed copies of The Motorcycle Magazine articles.

Wyman would have to keep a journal of his daily progress, noting dates, times, locations and a descriptive narrative about activities.  He also had with him a Kodak Vest Pocket camera that he used to take pictures along the way.

At the end of each riding day, after tending to the motorcycle, getting fed and securing lodging, he would compile his notes into a narrative suitable for publication.  Then, depending on the telegraph, telephone and postal services available in the place he stopped for the night, he had to package it up and send it to Goodman Company publishing facilities in San Francisco and/or New York City.  He never mention getting film developed so one can assume it was sent to the publisher for processing.  Also, we imagine the editorial staff at the Goodman Company offices would polish the narratives before sending the copy to the press for typesetting and printing.  So, the opportunity for "copy errors" were ever present.

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Through The Valleys Of The Two Great Rivers To Chicago" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, September 1903, Vol 1 No 4
Omaha, NE to Chicago, IL
June 12 to June 19, 1903