By The Editors of Road Rider Magazine
August, 1976 issue, Volume 10, Number 8
When George A. Wyman left San Francisco, California on the afternoon of May 16, 1903, he was on this way to New York City -- and into the pages of history. Unfortunately, history has all but ignored him ... until now.
Road Rider Editor/Publisher Roger Hull first became aware of George Wyman and incredible trip while reading through a 1910 bicycle/motorcycle magazine. There was very little information -- just a reference to Wyman being the person to cross America with a motor vehicle. Hull's attempts to find more information came to naught for several years (Hull concedes that he really made no concentrated search -- just occasional inquiries here and there. Nobody seemed to know anything about Wyman.) Finally, at the 1978 Daytona Speed Week, Hull was with motorcycle history researcher G.W. Knudsen, and brought up the subject of Wyman's trip. At that point in time, Knudsen had never heard of Wyman and knew nothing of the trip . . . but was extremely intrigued. Hull thereupon engaged Knudsen to research the Wyman mystery.
Mr. Knudsen invested the next 18 months in researching the George Wyman odyssey. Without his devoted contributions -- as well as those of Herb Glass who, as Knudsen discovered, had a rare copy of the original manuscript as it appeared in Motorcycle Magazine in his collection -- the discovery and resulting rebirth of the following bit of American history would not have come about.
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In June of 1903, Volume 1, Number 1 of Motorcycle Magazine was published in San Francisco, California. That June issue -- plus the next four editions -- would chronicle the epic journey of the first motorized vehicle to successfully cross the continent.
Motorcycle Magazine shut down it presses in 1906, and the story of this historically important "tour" was lost for over seven decades. When researcher Knudsen finally located it, the material was in the public domain -- anyone who had known where to look could have had the story. Since Road Rider's 10th Anniversary issue was just around the corner, we decided to keep the story secret a few more months, and publish it here.
We want to express our appreciation to all concerned; the dozens of cooperative folks who willingly furnished information to help piece together the puzzle and -- especially -- to Herb Glass who was willing to share his secret with the world, and Oley Knudsen who did the legwork (their biographies appear below.)
* * *
"The Merit of Wyman's Performance" by A. Nichols Jervis, appeared one month after the final installment of Wyman's story in Motorcycle Magazine. It does an excellent job of pointing up the courage, hardships and significance of the Wyman trip. For that reason, we have included it here.
Finally, any readers who have their interest sparked by the Wyman story should read the concluding remarks by the editors of Road Rider concerning the status of efforts toward gaining full recognition for the first person to cross the American continent successfully on a motorized vehicle . . . the very first real ROAD RIDER. [RR]
G. W. KNUDSEN
G.W. "Oley" Knudsen has maintained an ongoing interesting in motorcycle and motorcycling since 1939, and has been actively involved with antique bikes for 25 years. Knudsen spent 30 years traveling the world while involved with industrial construction projects, and has lived in such varied locations as Arabia, Greenland, South America and the Bahamas. At the age of 56, Oley now is retired, lives in Florida, and devotes his time almost exclusively to antique motorcycle research, writing (he has tow books in progress), and motorcycling.
In addition to his work on the Wyman piece, Mr. Knudsen is the author of a second motorcycling-history project, "Those Van Buren Girls," which also appears in this special issue of RR.
Without the work of dedicated collectors, much of the motorcycling's history would now be lost forever. To someone researching the history of motorcycling, only a few bits and pieces -- scattered throughout the world -- are available. Had in not been for one such collector -- Herb Glass of New York state -- the story of George Wyman's history-making journey could not have been published. Mr. Glass has in his collection what may ell be the last remaining copy of the original Wyman text as published in Motorcycle Magazine.
Mr. Glass is a dedicated collector of pre-1914 American built motorcycle, motorcycle memorabilia and -- his first love -- motorcycle-related literature. Among the bikes in his collection are a 1903 Indian and a 1914 Flying Merkel.
Through Mr. Glass' generosity and desire to see George A. Wyman receive the credit he has been so long denied, he allowed his fragile text and rare photographs to be copied.
Return to the George A. Wyman Memorial Project page.