Could You Ride a Bike Across America…With No Brakes?


George Loher Showed How Easy it Really Was to Ride a Bike in 1895

George Loher Showed How Easy it Really Was to Ride a Bike in 1895

On This Date in History: In Oakland, California a reasonably successful butcher by the name of George Loher decided he needed some excitement in his life.  Did he look for a girlfriend?  Turn to crime?  Maybe try a new line of work?  No, he had bigger ambitions.  On this date in 1895, George Loher decided it would be  “a pleasant undertaking” to go to New York…on a bicycle.

Yellow Fellow had a double frame

Yellow Fellow had a double frame

He left San Francisco on his Stearns Yellow Fellow bike to begin his herculean task. The Stearns’ company model was pretty similar to bicycles of today and Loher was weighed down with over 50 pounds of equipment, clothes and supplies to such an extent that observers weren’t sure he’d ever get out of the Bay Area. But, he did.

Stevens Rode This Thing Across the Country Before Loher

Stevens Rode This Thing Across the Country Before Loher

It would seem Loher took the northern route, heading to Oregon and then across thirteen states and territories. He crossed deserts, sandy valleys and 5 mountain ranges. Believe it or not, he was not the first to ride a two-wheeler across the country. 11 years before, another guy from Oakland named Thomas Stevens rode a high-wheeler across the nation and later around the world.  But, the tea-totalling butcher and “wheelman” enthusiast was the first to do so with the new pneumatic tire and for some odd reason, he had no brakes. Seems, his method of stopping was to drop a bunch of brush and sticks tied to a rope on his bike and drag it behind to slow his momentum. I don’t think it worked too well. In Oregon, his trip almost ended when he nearly ran into a train. In Washington, he broke his front forks and in Montana he smashed his front wheel on a boulder.

George Peddled a Long Way from the Butcher Shop

George Peddled a Long Way from the Butcher Shop

Undaunted, he continued on and in North Dakota he must have gotten into trouble because he was cursed at in Swedish. His luck changed in Wisconsin because he took time to party down with a bunch of tobacco traders. One doesn’t think of Ohio as being a big oil state but he rode between oil wells in the Buckeye State. One publication describes him as a typical tourist. Well, Snow White and I just returned from an adventure in Virginia and Washington DC and we didn’t decide to visit a prison but Loher thought it would be a good idea to visit Sing Sing prison in New York. The warden must have thought he was some sort of VIP because he let the traveler take a rest in the electric chair. Loher said “I found it a comfortable piece of furniture (that is, when the dynamo is not running.)”

Jules Verne's guys went around the world in 80 days

Jules Verne's guys went around the world in 80 days

Loher finished his adventure in 80 days, which would have made Jules Verne smile. And then…he returned to Oakland on a train and went back to his butcher shop. He wrote a journal about his exploits but didn’t publish it because he thought it was too ordinary. Hence, he was lost to the pages of history until the late 1960’s when he grand-daughter was rummaging through some of his stuff and found the manuscript. She had it published in the early 1970’s.

This is rather odd in American lore because most of the time people do extra-ordinary things…in this case cycling over 4300 miles in the days before automobiles and paved roads and when Swedish was still being spoken in North Dakota…and then cash in with a book or something. Not George. He simply went home. Apparently, he did it because, as one published article says, he “wanted a larger slice of life” and he certainly must have been adventuresome because he neglected to pack a map. He just rode like Forrest Gump until he ran into the ocean.

The book is called The Wonderful Ride and it looks like you can find it on antique or used book websites. Or you can buy a new one on Amazon for about $141!

SPC Severe Threat Today

SPC Severe Threat Today

Weather Bottom Line:  As I cautioned yesterday, the storms came through early enough in the evening that there was enough potential energy to keep them reasonably formidable.  Lots of lightning and I found one rain gauge near Prospect with over 2 inches of rain.  I also suggested, at least in reply to a comment, that there was so much moisture in the air that I thought that perhaps we’d get more rain over the 36 hour time frame than the inch or so the models advertised. Well, things also got moved up a bit on the schedule.  The front sagged down a bit farther than anticipated, in fact perhaps yesterdays storms helped move it along in their wake.  It’s possible that  we get some showers or t’storms, most of the action should be well to our south as the front should be pretty close to our area and most of the stuff should be focused farther into Dixie.  The SPC had shifted the severe threat area to just an area well to our Southwest.  I have other things to do so I can’t put the most recent update up.  But, typically it doesnt change much from the previous day.  In any case, a few storms are possible especially the farther south that you go.  The front gets sorta hung up just to our south…close enough to keep the prospects of a few t’storms in the picture through Thursday.  As I mentioned yesterday, in spite of what you may have heard on tv, its not really going to get any cooler and the jet stream is not diving down…the long wave pattern is essentially staying put with a bit of a dip for a day or so taking the edge off the temperatures around the Great Lakes.  But, around here, look for mid to upper 80’s and then upper 80’s and maybe low 90’s for the weekend.

Side note on the tropics: Invest 99L is still out there and still has pretty decent potential development wise but the track is far from certain.  Another area of disturbed weather has shown up in the extreme northeast Caribbean.  Tropical Storm Felicia will finally get to Hawaii in a much weakened state from its former self and is on the downside of life. Nonetheless, surf will be up in the 50th state and they’ll probably get 8-12 inches of rain.  Either and exciting or lousy time to be on a vacation in paradise, depending on how you look at it.

DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1242 AM CDT TUE AUG 11 2009

VALID 111200Z – 121200Z

…THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS OVER PARTS OF THE SRN HIGH
PLAINS…

…THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS OVER THE MID SOUTH…

…SYNOPSIS…

LARGE-SCALE PATTERN WILL UNDERGO SLIGHT AMPLIFICATION DURING THE DAY
ONE PERIOD AS VORTICITY MAXIMUM CURRENTLY OVER THE UPPER MS VALLEY
DIGS SEWD THROUGH THE MID MS AND TN VALLEYS.  THIS FEATURE WILL
COMPRISE SRN EXTENSION OF AN INTENSIFYING…POSITIVELY-TILTED SHORT
WAVE TROUGH MOVING THROUGH THE GREAT LAKES AND OH VALLEY.  AT THE
SURFACE…ASSOCIATED COLD FRONT WILL SAG SWD THROUGH THE OZARK
PLATEAU…OH/TN VALLEYS AND MID ATLANTIC STATES.  THE WRN EXTENSION
OF THIS BOUNDARY WILL REMAIN MORE QUASI-STATIONARY OVER THE SRN HIGH
PLAINS.

…SRN HIGH PLAINS…

CONVERGENCE ALONG STATIONARY FRONT AND ANY PRE-EXISTING OUTFLOW
BOUNDARIES /AND PERHAPS GLANCING INFLUENCE OF VORTICITY MAXIMUM
PASSING TO THE E/ ARE EXPECTED TO FOSTER SCATTERED TSTMS BY MID/LATE
AFTERNOON FROM SERN CO/NERN NM INTO WRN OK.  WARM SECTOR IS FORECAST
TO BECOME HOT WITH INCREASING BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTURE WITH EWD
EXTENT.  WHEN COUPLED WITH ERN EDGE OF EML…AIR MASS WILL BECOME
MODERATE TO STRONGLY UNSTABLE WITH MLCAPE APPROACHING 1500-3000
J/KG.

MID/HIGH-LEVEL WIND FIELDS WILL NOT BE PARTICULARLY STRONG OWING TO
PROXIMITY TO RETROGRADING RIDGE AXIS.  BUT…LOW-LEVEL ELY/SELY WIND
COMPONENT ALONG FRONTAL ZONE WILL RESULT IN 30-35 KT OF
UNIDIRECTIONAL SHEAR.  GIVEN SETUP WILL SUPPORT ORGANIZED STORMS
INCLUDING SPLITTING SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF HAIL AND STRONG WINDS.
STORMS SHOULD GRADUALLY GROW UPSCALE INTO CLUSTERS WITH A WIND/HAIL
THREAT SPREADING SEWD THROUGH THE SLIGHT RISK AREA THIS EVENING INTO
TONIGHT.

…MID SOUTH…

DIURNAL STORMS ARE LIKELY TO BECOME FOCUSED ALONG SWD-MOVING COLD
FRONT AND ANY REMNANT MESOSCALE BOUNDARIES WITHIN A WARM/MOIST AIR
MASS WITH MLCAPE OF 1500-3000 J/KG.  DESPITE MARGINAL VERTICAL SHEAR
/0-6 KM BULK SHEAR AOB 30-35 KT/…THE DEGREE OF INSTABILITY AND
INCREASED HEIGHT FALLS ASSOCIATED WITH APPROACHING VORTICITY MAXIMUM
SUGGEST THE POTENTIAL FOR ORGANIZED STORM CLUSTERS CAPABLE OF
DAMAGING WIND GUSTS AND SOME HAIL.

…OH VALLEY…

SCATTERED STORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE THIS AFTERNOON ALONG SECONDARY
FRONTAL SURGE WITHIN ZONE OF DEEP ASCENT AHEAD OF MIDLEVEL TROUGH.
AIR MASS WILL BE MOIST AND UNSTABLE AND A FEW STRONG TSTMS ARE
POSSIBLE.  A MORE ROBUST SEVERE THREAT IS EXPECTED TO BE LIMITED BY
THE POOR MIDLEVEL LAPSE RATES AND WEAK WIND FIELDS BELOW 5-6 KM AGL.

…MID ATLANTIC COAST INTO THE CNTRL/ERN CAROLINAS…

LEE TROUGH AND SYNOPTIC COLD FRONT MAY PROVIDE THE FOCUS FOR A FEW
STRONG TO MARGINALLY SEVERE STORMS THIS AFTERNOON.  HERE TOO…AIR
MASS WILL BE WARM AND MOIST…CONTRIBUTING TO POCKETS OF MODERATE
INSTABILITY.  THE STRONGER STORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF MAINLY GUSTY
WINDS…THOUGH A MORE SUBSTANTIAL SEVERE THREAT SHOULD BE LIMITED BY
THE MARGINAL VERTICAL SHEAR.

..MEAD/JEWELL.. 08/11/2009

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One Response

  1. I think that’s my grandmother in the first pic. Maybe not.

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