Heroes

Bicycle Heroes | The Franklin Institute

No inventor or country can single-handedly claim to have invented the bicycle; it was invented and reinvented in many places over a period of many years.

In 1817, Germany’s Baron von Drais de Saverbrun invented the Draisienne, (also “draisine” or “hobby horse”) a steerable bicycle. It was almost completely made of wood, and had no pedals. Riders propelled it by pushing their feet against the ground. In 1860, a model called the Michaux Velocipede became the world’s first mass-produced riding machine. Designed by France’s Pierre Michaux, he came up with his design when a customer brought a Draisienne in for repairs. After his son tried riding it and had difficulties with his feet on downhill roads, Michaux came up with the idea of connecting crank arms and pedals directly to the front wheel as a means of propelling the bike. In 1865 in Connecticut, Pierre Lallement rode a distance of

Read More

Little-Known Heroes: All-Black 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps

We delve into the story of the little-known 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, an all-black group of badass bikers who crossed 1,900 miles of the American frontier in service to the country.

"Bicyclists' group on Minerva Terrace. [Lt. James A. Moss's company of 25th Infantry, U. S. Army Bicycle Corps, from Fort Missoula, Montana.] YNP." October 7, 1896.
“Bicyclists’ group on Minerva Terrace. [Lt. James A. Moss’s company of 25th Infantry, U. S. Army Bicycle Corps, from Fort Missoula, Montana.] YNP.” October 7, 1896

In June of 1897, the all-black company of the 25th Mobile Infantry, under command of a white lieutenant and accompanied by a medic and a journalist, embarked on a journey across America’s heartland — from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri — to “test most thoroughly the bicycle as a means of transportation for troops.”

Their trek would span 41 days and 1,900 miles and pit the men against sandhills, the Rocky Mountains, rain, snow, poison, and more. Decades before Dr. King had his famous dream, these men were sweating together, bleeding

Read More