The Ultimate Cycle Chic
Wheel, kindly light, along life's cycle path, Wheel Thou on me! The road is rough, I have discerned Thy Wrath, But wheel me on! - Christian Hymn
The Wheelmen embrace a broad range of bicycle-related activities, centered on the historical aspects of cycling.
Regular activities of the Wheelmen include riding in parades, tours and demonstrations, holding rides, participating in events to promote modern cycling, displaying bikes and memorabilia, research, writing and publishing cycle history, collecting bicycle literature and memorabilia, restoring cycles, restoring and recreating uniforms and costumes, recreating grand dance balls, picnics, developing buglers, show and tell meets, swap meets, auctions, slide shows, visiting historic sites and museums, and learning trick riding.
The Wheelmen caters to all aspects of cycling history, collectors, non-riders, riders of high wheels, tricycles, tandems and safety bicycles.
Membership is open to everyone whether you own an antique bicycle or just enjoy the early days when cycling was being born. Cycling history is an important part of our American heritage, so join us in reviving and reliving the memories of the 1880’s and 1890’s – the great cycling era in America. Become a member by downloading the PDF application form, and mailing it in.
The Kentucky Wheelmen is a State Division of The Wheelmen, a national non-profit organization dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of American cycling, and promoting the restoration and riding of bicycles prior to1918. The Wheelmen relearn lost skills and tell old forgotten stories about the golden era of cycling.
Collectors and restorers have salvaged thousands of antique bicycles, and preserved large quantities of bicycle memorabilia, literature and other valuable materials of the early days of cycling. Many Wheelmen have built outstanding collections of cycles that rival the best of museums.
The club was founded in 1967 at Hoopes Reservoir, Wilmington, DE, at its first Official High Wheel Tour by 12 men mainly from the Philadelphia area.
Today the club has over one thousand members across the U.S., Canada and overseas.
Since our inception the club has participated in major events such as the 1976 Bicentennial in Philadelphia, the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN, and grand parades in New York, Detroit, Washington, Milwaukee and Indianapolis.
Kentucky has a rich history in the early days of cycling that has been lost or obscured through the years.
The Kentucky Wheelmen is a state division of The Wheelmen for members living in Kentucky. It is the goal of the Kentucky Wheelmen to bring back the glory days of early Kentucky cycling through the use of historic writings and research, recreations of the early cycle “runs”, commemorations of long gone bicycle race tracks, celebrations of talented Kentucky cyclists who became national and international cycling stars, and emphasizing the importance of Kentucky’s past as a National leader in cycling.
Wheelmen in Kentucky also participate in parades, demonstrate riding to the public, collect cycling memorabilia, and ride their machines.
More About Us
April 9, 11–2 Celebration of Cycling, Bloomington Indiana.
June 3-5 Great American Brass Band Festival, Danville, KY
June 18, 1-3 pm Indiana Bicentennial Celebration Ice Cream Social at the Division Street School New Albany, Indiana.
June 19, noon New Albany High Wheel Bicycle Race sponsored by the Kentucky Wheelmen, New Albany, Indiana
July 6-10 Wheelmen National Meet150 Years of Cycling in America
Each year the Wheelmen club has an Annual Meet. It is when many Wheelmen worldwide come together, in one location, for a four-day celebration of antique cycling.
The 2016 Meet took place in July at Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
The 2013 meet was held in Louisville, KY; other Annual Meets have been held in such historic places as Findlay, Ohio; Mystic Seaport, CT; Newport, RI; Auburn, IN; Niagara Falls, NY; Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI; White River Junction, VT; and Williamsburg, VA, with hundreds of members in attendance at each meet.
Carson and I attended the World premier of “Le Ride” at the Louisville International Film Festival on October 13, 2016. This documentary pays tribute to the riders of the 1928 Tour de France bicycle race. CBS Amazing Race host and “Le Ride” producer Phil Keoghan decided that the 1928 4-person Australasian team and first English-speaking team to compete in the Tour de France needed to be remembered, and more importantly rescued from oblivion. Phil and his friend Ben Cornell rode the same 3500 mile route around the perimeter of France in 22 stages on authentic 1928 racing bicycles. His wife Louise Keoghan wrote the documentary, which was financed solely by the couple with all ticket proceeds donated to fight Multiple Schlerosis.
The documentary evolved after Phil, a New Zealander read a biography about fellow New Zealand racer Harry Watson and was amazed to have never heard of this incredible athlete. To learn more about the other Austrailian riders Hubert Opperman, Percy Osborn and Ernest Bainbridge, Phil and Louise researched the 1928 race coverage through family scrap books, film footage and newspaper articles. They had to piece together the riders history, because they returned home to little fanfare and settled into ordinary lives.
The 1928 Tour de France was one of the most grueling in history, with 168 riders at start but only 41 riders finishing. Some 1928 tour stages were over 200 miles in length with climbs in the Pyrennees on heavy bicycles with little gearing and minimal brakes. Phil and Ben trained for the long stage lengths, wore period clothing and rode authentic 1928 racing bicycles. In true Wheelman fashion, they improvised as necessary. During Stage 1, Phil’s broken stem was welded back in place for free by a local body shop. Most days, their riding started before daybreak and continued late into the night. Surprisingly, they had no flats during the entire 3500 miles.
“Le Ride” is a mix of breathtaking French scenery, exhaustion and wit. In a tribute to the 1928 riders, extensive film footage, photographs and newspaper articles are chronogically spliced into the stage riding of Phil and Ben. I recommend you see this film in cinemas or online. A donation to MS is well worth the tribute to these extraordinary riders of the 1928 Tour de France.
For further reading, see “Harry Watson: The Mile Eater” written by Jonathan Kennett, Brownen Wall and Ian Gray.