Fri May 30, 2014, 09:46 AM

Across America on a Motor Bicycle (1903)

Last edited Thu Jun 19, 2014, 11:24 AM - Edit history (1)

These are the opening paragraphs of a long journal kept by George Wyman when he made the first crossing of the United States by a motorized vehicle in 1903. This is what I call Adventure with a capital A!

Little more than three miles constituted the first day's travel of my journey across the American continent. It is just three miles from the corner of Market and Kearney streets, San Francisco, to the boat that steams to Vailejo, California, and, leaving the corner formed by those streets at 2:30 o'clock on the bright afternoon of May 16, less than two hours later I had passed through the Golden Gate and was in Vallejo and aboard the "Ark," or houseboat of my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Brerton, which was anchored there. I slept aboard the "Ark" that night. At 7:20 o'clock the next morning I said goodbye to my hospitable hosts and to the Pacific, and turned my face toward the ocean that laps the further shore of America. I at once began to go up in the world. I knew I would go higher; also I knew my mount. I was traveling familiar ground. During the previous summer I had made the journey on a California motor bicycle to Reno, Nevada, and knew that crossing the Sierras, even when helped by a motor, was not exactly a path of roses. But it was that tour, nevertheless, that fired me with desire to attempt this longer journey - to become the first motorcyclist to ride from ocean to ocean.

For thirteen miles out of Vallejo the road was a succession of land waves; one steep hill succeeded by another, but the motor was working like clockwork and covered the distance in but a few moments over the hour, and in the face of a wind the force ot which was constantly increasing. The further I went the harder blew the wind. Finally it actually blew the motor to a standstill~ I promptly dismounted and broke off the muffler. The added power proved equal to the emergency, and the wind ceased to worry. My next dismount was rather sudden. While going well and with no thought of the road I ran full tilt into a patch of sand. I landed ungracefully, but unharmed, ten feet away. The fall, however broke my cyclometer and also cracked the glass of the oil cup in the motor - damage which the plentiful use of tire tape at least temporarily repaired. Entering the splendid farming country of the Sacramento Valley, it is easy to imagine this the garden spot of the world. Magnificent farms, well-kept vineyards and a profusion of peach, pear, and almond orchards line the road; and that scene so common to Californians' eyes and so odd to visitors'- great gangs of pigtailed Chinese at work with the rake and hoe - is everywhere observable.

At Davisville, 59 miles from Vallejo, those always genial and well meaning prevaricators, the natives, informed me that the road to Sacramento, which point I had set as the day's destination, was in good shape: and though I knew that in many places the Sacramento River, swollen by the melting snow of the Sierras, had, as is the case each year, overflowed its banks. I trustingly believed them. Alas! for human faith. Eight miles from Davisville the road lost itself in the overflowing river. The water was too deep to navigate on a motor bicycle or any other bicycle, so I faced about and retraced the road for four miles, or until I reached the railroad tracks.

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Reply Across America on a Motor Bicycle (1903) (Original post)
Agent_86 May 2014 OP
liberalguy May 2014 #1

Response to Agent_86 (Original post)

Fri May 30, 2014, 10:47 AM

1. Love it. n/t


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