Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 6 - Across America on a Motor Bicycle

(Cheyenne, WY to Kimbell, NE)

"It was raining a little when I left Cheyenne, and the roads were too heavy to ride. I took to the railroad again, and the railroad ties were not much better than the road. For 43 miles I had to pedal. If you ever went for a ride on a tandem and took your best girl, or some other fellow's best girl, and she was a heavyweight, and about 30 miles from home she gave out and you had to do all the pushing to get home, you have a slight idea how I felt pushing the motor over the railroad ties. I got to Egbert at 12:45 and had dinner at the section house there. It is downhill all the way now. I have turned my back upon the Rockies and their grandeur and am nearing the great prairie lands. I can see Elk Mountain, which, with its snow-capped peak is a landmark for hundreds of miles around and in spite of the troubles I have had in the rocky country, I feel somewhat regretful at leaving it. I do not know what troubles the prairies hold for me, and I shall miss the inspiration of the mountain air, the gorgeous view, and the coyotes and the glimpses of antelope that I caught a couple of times back near Laramie. One new sight I do have is that of prairie dogs, and as they sit beside their holes and yelp at me I take several pot shots at them. They dodge into their burrows so quickly that you cannot tell whether you hit them or not: even when shot through the head or heart these creatures dodge into their holes to die. It began to rain when I had gone a mile and a half from the station house, and, remembering my last experience with the rain and the gumbo mud, I turned back and waited at the telegraph operating room until the middle of the afternoon, when the rain slackened. I got to Pine Bluffs on the state line between Wyoming and Nebraska, at 4:40 p.m. To furnish an idea of how rapidly I have come down it may be mentioned that at Pine Bluffs the elevation is 5,038 feet, and this is only 90 miles from the summit, where the elevation is 8,590 feet, a drop of 3,500 feet in less than 100 miles.

During my first few miles of travel in the state of Nebraska I was nearly killed by a freight train. l was riding alongside the track, close to the outer rail, where the dirt over the ties is level, and a strong wind was blowing in my face, so that I did not hear the rumble of the train. Suddenly I heard the loud shriek of the whistle right in my ears. I looked back and the train was not more than 10 yards away. I just had time to shoot down the embankment, which, luckily, was only about four feet high at that place when the train ran past me. As it was, the engineer had whistled "down brakes" and was scared himself. It is fortunate that I was not riding between the tracks at the time, or I would have surely had to sacrifice my bicycle to escape with my life. If it had been a fast passenger train and got that close to me, it would have hit me before I got out of the way. This was worse than the mountains, for nothing that happened there came so near to causing heart failure. I got to Kimball, 65 miles from Cheyenne at 6:50 p.m. They told me there that the roads are good when it is not raining. I had to take their word for it, and conclude that I still carry some sort of a hoodoo with me, in spite of having shed my fancy waistcoat, for when I get into a region of good roads it rains and spoils them, and when it doesn't rain I am in a district where the roads are never good."

Across America on a Motor Bicycle - "Over the Rockies and the Great Divide to the Prairies" by George A. Wyman, The Motorcycle Magazine, August 1903, Vol 1 No 3
Ogden, UT to Omaha, NE
May 28 to June 11, 1903