I was scouting some roads last weekend with some friends for an event scheduled for next summer. We were evaluating roads for smoothness and for the fun factor. We had several routes to get from waypoint to waypoint and were looking for the most fun ride.
As I looked at the countryside, I began to think about the way it has changed. I recently read “Across America on a Motor Bicycle” by George Wyman. It chronicles his journey from San Francisco to New York City in 1903.
Wyman made the 3,800 mile trip on a 1903 California Motor Bicycle. It weighed 90 pounds and its little 30cc engine produced 1.5 horse power. Fortunately, it could also be peddled. He crossed the Sierra Nevada using railroad beds, as there were no roads for that portion of the trek. The roads that were available were mostly impassable because of rains durring his travels. He used rails beds for more than half of his journey. While he rode the machine under power for much of the way, he also peddled it and walked it for may miles.
I thought of George Wyman as I rolled over modern asphalt roads on my 1500cc cruiser. Somehow the occasional bump or pothole didn’t seem so disastrous.
— Guy B. Wheatley