We are part of a restless species that has a long history of wandering
and exploring in search of adventure, knowledge, and material benefit. A
journey, short or long also helps alleviate the tedium of routine and it
heightens an appreciation of home.
Nineteenth Century Americans took advantage of bicycle technology to
explore their vast nation. The journey was often explained or justified
with plans to visit distant friends or relatives, to see man made and
natural sights, or to profit from a wager or writing assignment. Whatever
the motive, being alone on the open road and dependent upon your own
physical energy and judgement required what the age termed "grit."
Most of the travelers described in the following accounts were young men at
the time of their notable journey. There were hardships and dangers,
but generally no serious injuries. Most travelers returned home after the
journey was complete and led useful, but normal lives.
Modern wheelmen have continued the tradition of travel and about twenty men
have ridden high wheel machines across America since 1972. This is
just a trickle compared to the vast flow of cyclists on modern machines who
have made trips across states, along historic paths, and from sea to sea.
The journeys described below are focused upon rides prior to 1914 and