Thursday, May 21, 2015

Riding the Grand Tour

May 16 to July 6 is the George A. Wyman Memorial Period.  It is all together fitting that anyone seeking to honor the first person to cross America on a motorcycle would ride from San Francisco to New York City between those dates.  Especially me, Tim Masterson, Project Manager.

Full SpotWalla Maps:   Bubbler GPS Pro and SPOT G3  (TX to CA to NY to TX)

I  will be paying tribute to George by riding the Grand Tour - "Points Along the Way" starting in San Francisco on Memorial Day, May 25th.  I want to be among the first in the Iron Butt Association to gain certification of the George A. Wyman Memorial Challenge - Grand Tour Gold  inaugural event.  By starting on May 25, the Grand Tour also qualifies for the IBA Memorial Day Ride celebration.   What fun!

Trip Blog (newest to oldest)

Epilog:  Not only did I have a great ride doing The George A. Wyman Memorial Grand Tour - Gold, I managed to speak to or leave a Wyman flyer at over 140 stops along the way.  I got many immediate hosting commitments and many invitations to call back to talk more.  This was a very productive and fun hard riding adventure.

Thu Jun 4:  On to Albany and south to the Big Apple.  I stopped at 657 Madison, Albany where Wyman did the repairs to his motorcycle at the Anderson Agency.  Agency was the term in circa 1900 for "Dealership".  Today the building is still a going concern but no longer a vintage motorcycle repair shop.  It's the "Little Moon" gift shop.  The owner was delighted to learn his shop had such a distinguished history.  He would love to host a Memorial Plaque and Waypoint Sign.

Got to NYC mid day and quickly scored the last four stops of the Grand Tour.  Got my finishing dated business receipt to stop the clock and sought out one of New York's Finest to witness my IBA form. 

Wed Jun 3:  On to New York....  The weather has been great.  Bright sunny skies and cool temperatures.  Another day of great riding and good progress.  Got well into New York before stopping for the night.  I'm positioned so that I can arrive in metro New York City by between 12:00 and 1:00 to finish up before the evening rush hour.

Tue Jun2:  Riding to Milwaukee to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum before I start Leg 4 of the Grand Tour.  I want see what the HD Museum has in the way of a Wyman display.   I have called several times to find out but kept getting trapped in a loop of uncertainty.  Leaving Milwaukee, I'll head to Chicago then on to New York City.  Watch for the stops, and check out the pictures.

The ride to the Harley-Davidson Museum took half the day.  I don't think we will continue to have the HD Museum on the Grand Tour.  They expressed no interest in anything Wyman.  Seems reasonable since they are in the business of promoting Harley-Davidson.

Leaving Chicago around noon I managed to get all the way to 627.1 Freemont OH by dark.  Tomorrow I'll finish out Ohio and head to New York.  I'm going to stop in Erie PA to identify a great place for a Wyman Waypoint Sign.  George didn't mention stopping at any place in particular but did mention riding the Pennsylvania Slot.  Erie is smack dab in the middle of the slot. 

Mon Jun 1:  On to Chicago and hopefully beyond.  First stop is 614.1 Ogden and the scouting mission for the "Blacksmith Shop".  I have been following the "Lincoln Highway" almost the entire trip.  You know you are following George's route when you can see the railroad tracks and the Lincoln Highway signs. 

Sun May 31:  Have to drop off a Waypoint Sign invitation flier at the Ogallala City Hall before heading east.  First stop will be 608.1 Paxton Depot where George took refuge from a thunderstorm around noon.  I've already established an email thread with the owner of the build and she is very enthusiastic about putting up a Waypoint sign.  Maybe a plaque.  The Depot is being renovated to house a coffee shop and antique store. 

Making good progress.  Met with the Mayor of 610.2 Chapman to discuss a Wyman Waypoint Sign  and maybe a plaque.  He was very excited to learn of George's adventure though his town.  Hopefully, we can learn more of George's lunch stop in Chapman.  The Mayor expressed interest in obtaining several Waypoint Signs for his community.

Sat May 30:  Back on the Grand Tour bright and early.  I'm managed to get through all of Wyoming, Colorado and well into Nebraska.  Paid several visits to potential Host organizations.  Got a real good reception at the Cheyenne UPRR Depot Museum.  George checked his motorcycle at the Express Office before searching for a hotel room.  Another near sure Host is at the Lovejoy Garage building in Laramie.  I'm getting pretty good at this traveling salesman pitch at the points along the Grand Tour.

Fri May 29:  Ogden to Omaha.  I'm only going as far as Evanston today.  I am participating in the public unveiling of a Wyman Memorial Plaque on the exterior of the newly restored Evanston Depot.  Can't say how much of a crowd will be on hand for the ceremony but it's still an honor representing the Project at this most excellent of Wyman points along the way. 

The dedication ceremony of the Wyman Memorial Plaque at the Evanston Depot happens at 5:00 PM.  Video to follow!

Departed after the Evanston Depot Plaque ceremony to get in some of the points along the way east.  Manage to get as far as Rock Springs where I spent the night. 

Wed May 27:  Into Utah and round the top of the Great Salt Lake to Ogden.  Today was very productive.  Spent a couple of hours in Wells with the City Manager and President of the Chamber of Commerce.  Wells is very enthused about the Project and ready to mount a Wyman Waypoint Sign and Plaque.  In this case it will be at the Well Visitor Center just a block form famous Front Street. 

It was amazing riding around the top of the Great Salt Lake.  Even today, on a modern motorcycle riding over modern roads the sense of isolation is very evident.  I can't imagine what George was thinking as he rode his 1903 "California" in this remote part of the country.  I rode the dirt road from the highway to the 526.2 Tacoma Station.  All that is left are some building foundations and a sign post.  But, nonetheless, it was inspiring to cross over the terrain as George. 

Even though George did not mention stopping at the Golden Spike site Promontory Point he still followed along the Transcontinental Railroad much of the way from 526.3 Terrace RON to 527.1 Zenda RON.  So, I stopped at the National Park Center visitor center gave the Park Rangers and the supervisor my Wyman pitch.   They had never heard of Wyman or his epic journey...surprise!  They agreed to see about mounting a Waypoint Sign in the visitor center and even some Wyman brochures to be placed in the "Rack Card Flyer" display. 

In Ogden I paid a visit to the Barrel House 1cc establishment at the site of 528.2 LH Becraft Bicycle Shop.  The spot where the bicycle shop stood is the parking lot of the Barrel House 1cc pub.  The manager of the pub is on board with putting up a Plaque and Waypoint Sign.  Leaving there I did the last stop of Leg 2 at the newly discovered location of where George spent the night with S.C. Higgins.  It's now a city park with no trace of a house.  I'm taking Thursday off the Grand Tour trail and staying in Salt Lake City area before starting Leg 3 on Friday morning.

Tue May 26:  Start of Leg 2 and on to Ogden.  I plan on being in Ogden by late Wednesday or early Thursday.  So, I will be taking advantage of to time to see the sights and visit interested host locations for the Project plaques and signs.  Watch for the picture imbedded in the SPOT markers on the map above.  Click on the camera icon and the picture for that location is at the bottom of the data list.

Another productive day of riding the Grand Tour.  I got good follow up contacts at several potential hosting locations.  I even got tacit approval to mount a Wyman Waypoint sign at Palisade, after talking with a local there.  I'll have to check into that one.  Also, as I am riding the Grand Tour I am validating the GPS waypoint locations.  Most of them are dead on but I'm going to move the 522.3 Brown's  location slightly east.   It will still be in the vicinity of the original two structure siding location, just a little more convenient for a rider. 

I stopped at 525.1 Wells RON to Remain Over Night, as did George.  I want to visit City Hall first thing in the morning to give them a good Wyman Waypoint Sign pitch.

Memorial Day, May25:  I'm off on the Grand Tour.  Beginning at 516.1 Lotta's Fountain after I get a starting Dated Business Receipt, DBR. Watch for the pictures imbedded in the map above.

Leg 1 complete!  20 Wyman points along a 275 mile  route. Not many miles but they interesting navigational challenges.  I visited several historical society or local tourist information centers and got some great leads for follow up.  It was a great ride today and I found myself going into rally mode hitting one location after another.  At the 518.1 American Bridge spot I had to walk a half mile to get the picture and a half mile back.   The rest of the seemed to go smoother after I got out of the big cities of San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. 

Yesterday I met with the owners of Schien & Schein, Antique Map & Prints, of San Francisco.  Jimmie and Marti Wyman Schien are both motorcycle riders and passionate about historic photos, maps and documents.  Marti is the Great Granddaughter of George A. Wyman and is very enthusiastic about the Wyman Project.  Since I was there I got Marti, Jimmie and Cloe to sign off on my IBA witness form. 

The Plan

I'm making and documenting stops at over 140 Wyman Waypoints along the 1903 route.  I want to pay a call on as many community historical societies, local tourist information centers and anyone else who might help the Project get authorized and secure mounting of Wyman Memorial Plaques and Wyman Waypoint Signs.  I'm going to be pretty busy for the next 10-14 days.

On Friday, May 29, I will be in Evanston, WY, representing the Project at the public unveiling of a Wyman Memorial Plaque being mounted on the side of the historic and completely restored Evanston UPRR Depot.  George stayed at the "Iron Butt Motel" there in the wee hours of May 30th.  He couldn't find a room, or even a cozy chair, anywhere in town that night owing to the crowds visiting to see President Theodor Roosevelt and his party who rode through town on horse back. 

Everyone is cordially invited to attend the ceremonies.  If you can't ride to Evanston to join in the fun, follow along via the map above as I will be posting picture at most all the points along the way.  Click on the camera icon, on the map, to view the picture where available.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Art of the Sign

Our objective to mark the Wyman waypoints from San Francisco to New York City just took a giant leap forward.  Like the signs of the "Lincoln Highway Association" and "Historic US Route 66" organizations have done for the motoring public, the Wyman Memorial Project seeks to mark all the points along way of the Grand Tour.

At a glance, the sign should tell the whole story: who, what, when and where to find more information.  The iconic "Wyman Pose" is the perfect image for the sign.  His adventurous stance next to his motorcycle, facing east, captures the spirit of his epic saga.

The best example of the Wyman Pose is its first appearance on page 465 of the "Bicycle World and Motorcycle Review" published in July, 1903.  Try as we might, we just couldn't get the image to reproduce on the 12" x 18" reflective sign in the quality we wanted. 

Proof 2
Proof 1
As you can see by the first proof from the sign maker, it was grainy and almost impossible to tell it was a guy with a motorcycle.  The sign company art department  enhanced the image.  There was a slight improvement, but not much.  We had the proofs made into actual full size signs, but we were still not satisfied with the finished product.

So, we turned to the professionals.  We contacted Bill Shaw, Editor-In-Chief of "Iron Butt Magazine", and explained our problem.  After mulling it over some, Bill suggested we contact Steve Hobart, Director of Photography, at the magazine an expert in graphic images.  Steve immediately identified the problem and suggested the solution -- pay a professional artist to draw the image in black and white.  Steve suggested an artist he knew that might help.

We commissioned artist and graphic designer, Adam Stephens of Tehachapi, CA, to do an inking of the Wyman Pose suitable for graphic reproduction in a variety of formats.  Adam, a stay-at-home dad and motorcycle enthusiast, accepted the commission.  Our instructions to him were simple.  Make George and his motorcycle the focus of the image. 

Adam delivered a value far beyond our expectations.  Not only did he produce the inking art we asked for, he took the extra step of creating the Wyman Waypoint sign you see above.  He is even throwing in a cartoon drawing of George.  Adam granted the Wyman Memorial Project full ownership of the images recognizing our nonprofit status and worthy goals for the Project.  We asked Adam to sign his work, as we will be proud to display his art at the many "Points Along the Way"

With these excellent images of George, in every possible graphics format, the Wyman Memorial Project can spread the Wyman story..."Linking the Past to the Present to Enrich the Future."   Help us by joining the "Friend of George"

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bravo, Mr. Higgins

The George A. Wyman Memorial Project has identified another Wyman Waypoint for the Memorial Grand Tour - Rider's Guide, pictured below.  It has taken the Project almost a year of searching for the details about S.C. Higgins of Ogden, UT.  Thanks to Greg Rice for the tip and especially to Eileen H. Stone of The Salt Lake Tribune for doing the investigative work on scene in Utah. 

This is a great example of how the long-distance riding and motorcycle touring community along with the interested public can help keep the Wyman story alive.  Whether through your tax-deductible donations, joining Friends of George, or just "Sharing" us on social media, together we can work towards "Linking the Past to the Present to Enrich the Future."

528.3 - S.C. Higgins RON
Date:  Thursday, May 28, 1903
Coordinates:  N41.21475°W111.97344°
Address:  2783 Grand Ave, Ogden, UT

Description:  While working on his motorcycle at the shop of L.H. Becraft, Wyman met up with Samuel C. Higgins, a machinist with the Southern Pacific RR.  Higgins, according to Wyman, owned and rode the only motorcycle in Ogden, a 1902 Indian designed by George M. Hendee.  After completing repairs to his motorcycle Wyman accepted an invitation to spend the night at the Higgins home on Grant Avenue, just a few blocks south of the Becraft bicycle shop.  This example of help and hospitality for a fellow enthusiast is today a time-honored tradition in the long-distance riding and motorcycle touring community.  Bravo, Mr. Higgins!

Special thanks to Eileen H. Stone, of The Salt Lake Tribune.  She discovered the details regarding the location of Samuel C. Higgins employment and residence.  After an article, she authored appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune, Livinghistory: An incredible journey via motorized bike across 1903 America the Wyman Memorial Project contacted her.  Intrigued by the goals of the Project, Eileen volunteered to use her investigative reporter skills on the task of finding information about S.C. Higgins.  Below are the fruits of her search:

  • From the 1902 City directory, Samuel C. Higgins was listed: Mach, Southern Pacific Co., 249 30th Street, Ogden, Utah.
  • From the librarian in Special Collections, Weber State University: Higgins lived at 2783 Grant Avenue in Ogden He was an employee of Southern Pacific. 

Wyman's account of his journey from Terrace to Ogden, UT
"It rained the night I stopped in Terrace, and, starting the next morning at 5:10 o'clock, I had to walk for several miles along the tracks; then I struck the desert, and found that the rain had left the sand hard enough to make good riding. It was an uneventful day, and I made 104 miles, the road winding along the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake, of which I caught frequent glimpses. I stopped 19 miles west of Ogden because it began to rain. I put up at a section house, that of the foreman of the gang, and he gave me a bed for the night. The railroad furnishes these section houses for the men, and I found them more comfy than I expected. There were no carpets, but the bed had a springy wire bottom, a good mattress and fine sheets. The hands do not fare like the foreman, though: they huddle together a dozen in a house in the other two buildings that constitute the "place." The place where I stopped is down on the time table as Zenda, but I was no prisoner there, and there was no romance to the situation. l am glad the foreman took me in, for a section gang is a motley lot, a regular cocktail of nationalities, and full of fighting qualities. At some of the places I passed I saw Chinamen at work on the railroads, and this was a new thing to me accustomed, as I am, to the pigtails of the Pacific coast. It is not often that John engages himself in such arduous and un-remunerative labor. The next morning the ground was so wet that I walked half the way to Ogden.

According to the railroad survey, Ogden, Utah, is 833 miles from San Francisco. I rode on the railroad track fully half the way. What distance I actually covered getting there I cannot say with preciseness owing to having lost my cyclometers, but while there I took a map, and, summing up my detours, I figured it out that I had ridden very nearly 100 miles more than the distance by rail, or about 925 miles.  At Ogden I found a pair of new tires and a gallon of lubricating oil waiting for me at the express office. They came from San Francisco, and the charges on the tires were $2.75 and on the oil $1.50. I put on one new tire and expressed the other, with the oil, to myself at Omaha. I got to Ogden at 11a.m., May 28, and spent the day there. I got a new pair of handlebars and put some new spokes in my wheels. While there I met up with S.C. Higgins, who has the other motorcycle in that city of 15,000 inhabitants. I met him at the store of L.H. Becraft - the pioneer cyclist of Ogden and the proprietor of a large bicycle store there. I spent the evening with Mr. Higgins and slept at his house, in response to a pressing invitation.At Ogden, Utah, where I arrived after traveling 925 miles, I had 10 new spokes to put in to replace those that were snapped by pounding over railroad ties. As I had ridden 400 miles with a stick for a bar, I got also a new handlebar and I put on a new belt rim and one new tire, shipping my extra tire and oil and other stuff on to Omaha. This was on May 28, and I left Ogden on the 29th at 6:10 a.m.  S.C. Higgins, who had been my host overnight, rode out of the city with me on his motor bicycle for three or four miles in order that I might not take the wrong road. He is a genuine enthusiast, although well past 40 years of age, I should judge, and he took the liveliest sort of interest in my trip and the success of my undertaking. Mr. Higgins is a machinist, and several years ago he made a motor bicycle for himself. Now he rides an Indian."

The Motorcycle Magazine, July 1903, Volume 1, Number 2 (Digitized PDF)
II - Over The Great Deserts To The Rocky Mountains
Reno, NV to Ogden, UT  May 21 - May 28, 1903