Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Brothas on Bikes

University of Montana, Mansfield Library via bicyclecorps.blogspot.com

I wish I'd found out about this in time for Black History month, but better late than never. In 1897, the Army had 20 Buffalo Soldiers try out the "new" safety bicycle to see if it would be useful to the Army. The men had to travel 41 days and 1,900 miles to complete the "test." A reporter went along for the ride, but, of course, he didn't ask them what they thought about the whole affair. Still, the official report and the news coverage of the soldier's journey helped promote cycling, possibly giving a sense of reality to the idea of bicycle touring. There are tons of news clippings, maps, pictures, route information, etc. at the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps blog. Kudos, to Mr. Mike Higgins for assembling such an informative site on such a little known moment in history.

6 comments :

Thom said...

This is fantastic, thanks very much for posting it.

letsgorideabike said...

Great picture, and fun bit of bicycle history -- love it!

~Trisha

whatisawridingmybikearoundtoday said...

WONDERFUL! Thanks for the great post.

She Rides a Bike said...

I wonder if the Buffalo Soldiers enjoyed being part of this test? A police officer I know told me being assigned bike patrol can be very competitive. Not only do they get to be out of their patrol cars in good weather but they have to opportunity to relate to the community in a whole different way.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

Thanks, everyone!

SRAB: It seems one journalist from The Daily Iowa Capital asked a Private Rout what the men thought of their trip. He said that they viewed it as "a great success" and that they "enjoyed" it, but they were happy to return to their base by train instead of by bike.

Mike Higgins said...

She Rides a Bike....
There are several accounts in which the soldiers were obviously enjoying themselves, and others where they were miserable. I think the fact that five of the riders from the Yellowstone trip in 1896 volunteered the next summer indicates their enthusiasm. I'm in the process of posting the Yellowstone Trip accounts right now. If you like the Ft.Missoula-St.Louis accounts you'll probably like the Yellowstone stuff, too.

Bronze Bombshell...
I just discovered your blog. I was surprised you'd found my blog because I haven't "published" it. I'm trying to get permission from various libraries to publish their pictures before I do so. Part of my agreement with them is that I don't violate their copyright laws. I'm glad you like the site! It's a fantastic story. I'll try to keep adding to it.

P.S. - I'll be retracing the route this summer on my bike, the Lug Hound.