Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 12 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Omaha, NE to Council Bluffs, IA)

"Although it was evening when I reached Omaha, Nebraska, on June 11, I at once hunted up the largest bicycle store and repair shop I could find in the city - that of Louis Flescher, 1622 Capitol Avenue - and began putting my machine in trim for the last 1,600 miles of my trip. I found that six new spokes were needed, and, after putting them in and truing up the wheels, I put on a new belt rim to replace the old one, which had been literally chewed up by the rocks along the road. It looked, in fact, as if it might have been a rail on the manger of a cribbing horse. Also, I put on the second one of the pair of tires that I got at Ogden and soldered up a small leak in the gasoline tank. Knowing that from that time on I would be able to get almost anything I needed, I decided to remove my carrier, with its extra gasoline tank and tools, and ship them to Chicago. I kept only a pump, a tire repair outfit, a wrench, a spark plug and my lubricating oil. All this was not done at night. It took me until 1:30 o'clock the next day to finish my work, and then I had lunch.

It was three o'clock on June 12 when I left Omaha. The streets of that city are fine, many of them having vitrified brick pavement. It might have been all imagination, or the exhilaration I felt at leaving the deserts and the Rockies behind me, but the bicycle seemed to skim the earth like a swallow as I started for the steel bridge across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa. The carrier and its freight made the load lighter, and the fine pavement had much to do with it, but the difference seemed greater than could be accounted for by these things. At the time it seemed to me as if I was having the finest ride of my lifetime. Unwitting I cheated the toll collector at the bridge and crossed over into Iowa without paying anything. I was going at a smart pace when I reached the bridge and had gone along on it some distance when I heard a man shouting to me. I learned afterward that he was the toll collector. I glanced back and saw him waving his arm excitedly, but at the time I thought he was expostulating because I was riding between the tracks, so I kept on and, as far as l am aware he did not undertake to pursue me or have me stopped. 

At Council Bluffs I made the acquaintance of Mr. Smith, of the Nebraska Cycle Company, who has traveled all over the country. He sent the barometer of my new-born confidence and enthusiasm down. From what he told me of the roads and the condition in which I would find them at that time, after all the rainy weather, I about made up my mind that I would have to ride on the railroad ties all the way to Chicago. Perhaps it was the effect of what he said that led me to explore Council Bluffs to a greater extent than I had any other place through which I passed, though, truth to tell, there was not opportunity for exploring in more than a very few, most of my stops west of Omaha having been at places that could be seen at one glance - "tout ensemble," as the Frenchmen say. The brick pavement of the Council Bluffs streets is superior to anything I ever saw before and I have seen some fine roads in Australia and other countries. It is laid with such scientific method and such consummate art that you might think you were riding on a board floor when rolling over it. 

It had been my design when I started to take the more southerly route from Omaha, by way of Kansas City and St. Louis to Chicago, because I understood that, although the distance Is greater, I would find better riding by so doing. When I came along, however, all that country was under water, one might say, so I decided to follow the route of the Northwestern Railroad past Ames, from which a spur of the road runs south to Des Moines. For the credit of the country, I hope the southerly route is better than the one I followed. On the whole, Iowa gave me as much vile traveling as any State that I crossed."

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