Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Grand Tour - East

The George A. Wyman Memorial Project is dedicated to keeping alive the story of Wyman's epic across America by motorcycle from San Francisco to New York City - May through July, 1903.

Back in August I rode all the points along the way from San Francisco to Cheyenne to validate the locations for the George A. Wyman Memorial Grand Tour - Rider's Guide.  Now, it's time to verify the eastern points along the way from Cheyenne to New York City.   I will be visiting each point to verify my virtual research and mark the final position for the Grand Tour locations.  The map below is of my BubblerGPS Pro track feed.  The camera icon means there is a picture attached to the map tag.  I will also be blogging along the way providing updates as they develop.

See full BubblerGPS and SPOT Gen3 SpotWalla maps 

Sat, 10,4:  The goal today is to get to Manhattan.  I will be doing some research at the main library in Albany looking for the location of what GAW termed the J.W. Anderson agency where he did some repairs.  I've had good luck with the 1903 City Directories in other locations so I'm hoping to score a good location for the Albany spot. 

Another very wet morning.  It did not stop raining till I get to Manhattan.  But, before that I managed to get to all the points along the way.  I didn't follow the scenic route that GAW took.  He actually used the Erie Canal towpath most all the way from Fairport to Albany.  In Cayuga I was able to identify the spot that the Mansfield Hotel stood in 1903.  That was the only hotel in the town at the time.  In Albany a quick trip to the main public library paid off with the street address of the Anderson bicycle location at 407 Madison Ave.

The trip down Broadway in NYC was not much fun as you might expect.  But I was able to document the two spots north of the 1904 Broadway finish.   The first was in Kingsbridge where GAW entered NYC according to the report for Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review and the spot where "Josh" interview GAW at Broadway and 195th street.  At the 1904 Broadway location I was able to get the card for the building owners to contact about mounting a GAW Memorial Plaque.  It was Saturday and none of the decision makers were around.  Same at the Harold Square Hotel.  I'll give them a call after I get back home to Wimberley on Monday.

With the completion of the GAW Memorial Grand Tour East validation ride I have successfully documented every point along the way that GAW rode to, save the ones not accessible by road (railroad sidings in remote areas).  I was able to document and preserve for future riders all the significant landmarks, locations and in some cases actual buildings and rooms GAW visited at the points along the way from San Francisco to NYC.   Not since 1903 has a motorcyclist ridden to the George A. Wyman points along the way and documented the experience.

Fri, 10/3:  Starting in Elyria then on to Cleveland.  I will have to wait till 10:00 for the main library to open as I want to find the location of the "Ohio Oldsmobile Company" that GAW purchased oil from when he stopped there for the night.  It was nice and dry when I left for Cleveland.  I got there early and had to wait about an hour before the central library opened up at 10am.  The rain was moving but it hadn't started yet. By the time I looked up the address to the Ohio Oldsmobile Company location it had started to rain.  It rained all day.  Not a lot of rain but the roads were wet and it made for less than optimal riding.  Enough whining about the weather, it's good training for the Iron Butt Rally. 

So, had a good day visiting the GAW points along the way.  I did some research at the Angola library but that didn't turn up anything useful as far as bicycle shop locations or hotel locations.  I stopped at the E.R. Thomas building in Buffalo where GAW had his bike front forks repaired.  I wanted to get the information as  to who to contact regarding putting a GAW memorial plaque on or near the building.  It was close of business time at the Rich Food plant, owners of the ER Thomas building, and all I got was a number to call on Monday.  I stopped for the night after visiting Fairport.  GAW followed the Erie Canal for a lot of the way between Rochester and Albany.  Maybe if the weather is nicer tomorrow I'll do that scenic route.  Right now my gloves are drying out over a low heat.

Today, October 3, is the anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 -- lest we forget those who served - Black Hawk Down

Thu, 10/2:  On to the Chicago area then east to Indiana and Ohio.  My riding goals are to get well into Ohio before stopping for the night.  It was wet today with very little rain, mostly sprinkles.  But the roads stayed wet all day.  I have been riding at near rally pace to push through to my daily goals for locations.  No new discoveries today just the usual adjustments to pick a better point location over virtual plotting.   I did stop at the Ligonier Historical Society to let them know about GAW and maybe get their help doing some research at the local level.  GAW spent the remained over night RON there on June 24th.  There are many of the circa 1900 buildings on Main Street and the town is restoring many other structures.  I'm hoping that a scan of the newspapers of June 24-30 might turn up an article on GAW that may cite the hotel he stay while in town.

It is fun riding through all the old town centers with their vintage buildings beautifully restored and still thriving businesses.  Some, sadly are virtual main street ghosts of yesteryear.  But, the Grand Tour in the mid-west is better than I thought it would be.  Riding between the stops along the way one gets a sense of what GAW may have seen.  Every old house, barn or downtown that catches my eye might have caught GAW's too as he rode his motorcycle along the dirt roads.  This is turning out to be a fun event.  Much harder than I expected at the pace I'm riding.  But very challenging and rewarding.

Wed, 10/1:  Today I hope to get all the way through Iowa and most of Illinois before I seek out a hotel room for the night.  First stops today are in Omaha at the Flesher Bicycle Shop location and the UPRR Express Office.  It was raining somewhat when I started this morning.  Went to the three locations in the Omaha area then headed east.  My goal was to get through Iowa and well into Illinois before stopping for the night.

In Marshalltown, where GAW spent the night on Monday, June 15th, 1903, I wanted to zero in on the location.  So, the first stop when I get to Marshalltown was to the central library to check the 1903 City Directory.  It was on microfilm and I quickly discovered there were 7 hotels in town in 1903.  The one I was looking for was run by a "widow and her two son" according to GAW.  The person at the library Information Desk did not have that information but sent me to the local Historical Society.  There, I met Michelle Roseburrough and explained what information I needed.  She was fascinated by the GAW story and the connection to Marshalltown.  She pulled out the big book of businesses, circa 1900, and quick zeroed in on the Stoddart Hotel at the corner of Main and southwest corner of 3rd Ave.  In the description in her big book of businesses was the remark, "It had been conducted as such (hotel) by the present owners, Mrs, Ella Stodart and her tow sons, Messers Earl and Harry Stoddart, for the past four years."  Boom!  Sadly, at the building location is now a parking lot.  She is going to scan the picture of the hotel and the description and email it to me.

In Cedar Rapids I met with Karl, the owner of Hall Bicycle Company where GAW repaired his front forks and worked on all the other problems when he arrived in town on Tuesday, June 16, 1903.  Karl was very excited about getting a GAW Memorial plaque for his business.  We posed for a picture at that location in Cedar Rapids.  Check it out. 

I stopped in Yorkville, IL for the night just outside of Aurora IL.  Riding is good and the George A. Wyman Memorial Grand Tour is turning out to be quite a challenging ride.  The route is excellent and follows the Old Lincoln Highway or US 30 most of the way.  Once can tell it's the route GAW used because it hugs the railroad most of the way.  It's usually in sight of the road and each location he mentions along the way includes the rails. 

Tue, 9/30:  Going to gas up first thing in the morning then ride the 100 miles north to Egbert WY, my first stop along the way of the Wyman Grand Tour - East.  Then the long trek east hitting each in turn.  I expect to get through all of Nebraska and most of Iowa before stopping for the night.

Got almost all the way through Nebraska today.  Was raining as I was riding into Omaha for the night.  Seems it was the same weather front I rode through yesterday heading up to Egbert.  At any rate it was fun riding along the route GAW took to each of the Nebraska points along the way.  When I got to the Paxton point some contractors were inside the circa 1900 Paxton Station renovating its insides.  I dropped off one of my GAW Memorial Project cards for the owner to contact me if interested in getting a plaque mounted on the outside of the build.  Hey, how about at the "Motorcycle Parking Only" spot in the parking of the new eatery.  Now that would be cool.

On Monday morning, June 8, 1903, GAW had to hold up in the Paxton Station for three hours to wait of a bad thunderstorm. 

Mon, 9/29:  Leaving the suburbs of Wimberley for Egbert WY, the next stop of the GAW Grand Tour.   I hope to be north east of Denver before I stop for the night.  Then up bright and early to get to Egbert first thing in the morning.

The weather was great all the way though Texas and into Oklahoma.  Sunny, with temperatures in the high 70s.  Thunderstorms were predicted in eastern Colorado and sure enough there was a monster cell just to the west of me as I was riding north along US287.  I checked my weather radar on my GPS and my route put right through the worst part of the storm as I turned northwest at Kit Carson.  So, I pulled over into a quaint cafĂ© and had supper to wait out the storm.  It was a thin front and moved through in about 30 minutes.  Behind the front the temperatures dropped to the low 50's so I put on my electric jacket liner, plugged in and headed up to Fort Morgan for the night. 

Pre-Ride Research:  I have been spend lots of time doing virtual research on each of the Wyman points along his route.  Some of this research has developed new information regarding his epic journey that was lost to history.  For example, GAW stopped in Cedar Rapids to repair.  He identified it as "a bicycle store on Second Avenue."  Well, turns out there was only one bicycle shop on Second Ave in Cedar Rapids on June 16, 1903, that of Ed Hall, The Hall Bicycle Company, at 108 Second Avenue.  Hall Bicycle is still in business today!   It is now located at 419 Second Avenue but the owner can trace the operation of the firm back to Ed Hall.  I have contacted the current owner and he has agreed to mount a George Adams Memorial plaque on his building at the current Hall Bicycle. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall Equinox SaddleSore 1,000

The fall equinox is Sep 22 9:29 PM CDT.  I am riding my second leg of the Iron Butt Four Seasons challenge: complete at least 1,000 miles in under 24 hour on each of the four celestial events.

Full SpotWalla MapsSPOT Gen3   BubblerGPS Pro (pictured below)

Monday, 9/22:  Departed the motel at around 5:25 for the Exxon station.  Topped off the tank and headed to the Sabine River turnaround at Exit 880 on I-10 west bound.  It's the first exit after crossing over from Louisiana.  Marked a SPOT and headed out. 

Traffic through Houston was not as bad as I expected it to be at 7am.  First fuel stop was on the west side of San Antonio.  It was the same place I stopped during the Summer Solstice ride back in June.  After Fort Stockton the weather turned wet and it rained of and on all the way to near El Paso.  Traffic through El Paso flowed real well at 5pm and it was a breeze to Anthony.  Got gas and a quick coffee with banana nut muffin before departing east.

I wanted to be riding at the official time of the fall equinox event at 9:29 PM CDT.  So, instead of stopping in Van Horn at just over 1,017 miles I rode to Fort Stockton for 1,133 miles.  I arrive just before 10pm, well after the official equinox time. 

Sunday, 9/21:  Left home for Orange.  I stay at the Days Inn for about $60.  It is right around the corner of an Exxon station with good receipts at the pumps.  I checked in and got Veronica, the desk clerk, to witness my IBA form.  Things went very smooth.  I turned in for the night.

I will be riding the same route and time table of the Texas I-10 Solstice 'Day Ride' I did back in June.  Starting in Orange at 6:00, riding I-10 to Anthony, turn around and finishing in Van Horn. 

Since the 22nd falls on a Monday I expect some traffic delays through Houston.  Also, the equinox for the CDT zone occurs at 9:29 PM I will make sure I am still riding at that time to remain true to the spirit of the Four Seasons event, even though it is not necessary by IBA rules.