RoadRUNNER Digital Rider

Pop Quiz-Do You Know This Man?

Jul 08, 2016 View Comments by

 

-First Man to Motor Across the Country-

GAWyman RoadRUNNER Magazine If your idea of a good time is chasing the horizon until your bladder forces you to take a break, you should. After all, this fellow is our Ferdinand Magellan, our Charles Lindbergh, our Lewis and our Clarke. This guy is our Homer (and I don’t mean Simpson) because in May of 1903 he set off from San Francisco, pointed his 200cc, 1.25 horsepower California motorcycle eastward, and didn’t stop until he arrived in New York City 50 days later, the first person to cross the United States on a motorcycle and the grand daddy of the Great American Road Trip. This is George A. Wyman.

Don’t feel to bad if you failed the pop quiz; I only stumbled upon Wyman’s story myself this past Spring. Wyman had told his own story in The Motorcycle Magazine in 1903 and then his story disappeared in the tumult of the early 20th century. He resurfaced in 1979 when Road Rider magazine retold Wyman’s tale, but by some unlucky twist of fate, he’s been more or less lost to history. Wyman really deserves more recognition, and everyone that reads RoadRUNNER and countersteers towards distant landscapes should know that they are an echo of Wyman’s epic journey.

And that’s when I had one of those incandescent light bulb moments where an idea sparked in a far corner of my cranium. It was an idea that I shared excitedly with family and friends and with Christa and Florian, and an idea that wouldn’t let go of my dreams until I was jetting to San Francisco to take a photo at Lotta’s Fountain (where Wyman started his own historic journey) and following Wyman’s faint tire tracks back to New York City. For the next three weeks I’ll shadow Wyman’s route, visiting the same towns he visited and chasing the same horizons that he chased. RoadRUNNER will be publishing a series of stories based on my trip next year, but in the meantime you can join me on RoadRUNNERs website and Facebook page where I plan to post several updates per week. I’m also posting photos daily on my Instagram (www.Instagram.com/JohnMichaelFlores).

I hope that you come along for a ride; it’s going to be something else.

Geo Wyman 1958 Oakland Trib article

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About the author

You know that little boy who stares at you, mouth agape, as you ride by? That was me, thirty-plus years ago. I merged two of my passions, motorcycles and photography, when I became a contributor to RoadRUNNER.