Buffalo soldiers were mountain bikers!

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  • Buffalo soldiers were mountain bikers!
  • Premier Icon bigad40
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    According to Rene Wildhaber and Red Bull, the US army experimented with soldiers using bicycles to get around back in the late 1800’s and were known as Buffalo Soldiers.

    I did not know that.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
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    To be fare, back then all cyclists were mountain bikers, there wasn’t really a lot of tarmac about. Nicholas Crane did a nice program about how, with the advent of cars, cyclists uses to ride and grade ‘roads’ to rate their suitability for cars for the Bartholomew Maps. Quite an eye opener watching him ride the ‘road’ over the Black Sail Pass with rod brakes.

    Don’t look too far removed from todays bikepackers πŸ˜‰

    In 1897 they rode 1900 miles cross country in 34 days. Obviously the bikes were SS and loaded weighed over 70lb.

    Alpha1653
    Member

    I seem to recall the Swiss forces had something similar until recently.

    Clicky.

    TooTall
    Member

    Here. I heard about this when I was in the USA a few years ago. Makes most current ‘epic’ rides look a bit gash:

    http://www.bicyclecorps.blogspot.co.uk/

    mt
    Member

    Are those bikes Surly’s?

    mt
    Member

    they could have that route as another long distance race.

    andyl
    Member

    you just reminded me of this:

    http://youtu.be/nOYtNadR45o

    Might have to dig out the DVD now πŸ˜€

    Premier Icon Lifer
    Subscriber

    ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ was a term applied to Black units in the US army.

    TooTall
    Member

    Taken from that blog I posted, a bit more about their camping kit and the bike construction:

    “The Corps is equipped with Spaulding military bicycles which have been especially made for the trip. The rims are of steel, the front wheels have 40 tandem spokes and the side forks and crown are extra heavy. The bicycles are all supplied with gear cases, luggage carriers, brakes and frame cases and weigh about 32 pounds (the heavy tires increase their weight considerably).
    Particular attention has been given the subject of tires and the wheels are furnished with eight different kinds of so-called non-puncturable tires, several pair having been especially made for the expedition. Some of these tires weigh as much as six pounds per pair. The cooking utensils consist of three telescopic frame cases made of light sheet iron, and two tin coffee pots. By means of thumbscrews the metallic cases are secured in the diamond of the bicycles and are used as ration carriers during the day; when camp is made the rations are taken out, and each case being made of two seperate parts we have six cooking vessels. The coffee pots are cylindrical in shape, measuring eighteen inches in length and ten inches in diameter. They are strapped to the handle bars on the front of the bicycle and a blanket roll is carried in each.

    FRAME – Diamond, standard height 23 inches, front tubes 1 1/8 inch, rear tubes 3/4 inch, swaged and tapered at connections. All connections, except one, steel thimbles. Tubular construction throughout.
    FRONT FORK – Tubular throughout. Side forks of large section, reinforced both ends. No forgings.
    BEARINGS- Tool steel cut from bar, tempered, ground and polished. Removable ball races throughout.
    TIRES – 28 inches by 1 5/8 inches. (See Options)
    SPOKES – Straight, tangent, swaged and nickeled.
    CRANKS – 6 3/4 inches. Round, spring steel, detachable.
    PEDALS – Spalding rat-trap. Dust proof.
    HANDLE BARS – Steel tubing of large section. Cork grips.
    SADDLE – Sager, with “T” post. [I believe Lt. Moss and riders used a Christy Anatomical saddle
    GEAR – 68 inches–17 teeth by 7 teeth
    FITTINGS – Tool Bag, with tools and repair kit.
    WEIGHT – With wood rims and rat-trap pedals, without brake, 23 pounds.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
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    I think people were made of sterner stuff in those days

    In the 1840s the guy who invented this would ride it from Dumfrieshire to Glasgow, presumably not along a sustrans route πŸ™‚

    johnellison
    Member

    ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ was a term applied to Black units in the US army.

    Whilst it became a generic term for African-American troops in the US Army, the origins of it are somewhat obscure. It was originally applied to the 10th Cavalry raised in 1866, mainly of escaped and/or emancipated slaves taken into military service.

    What isn’t in doubt is that the term was coined by Cheyenne warriors who were likening the soldiers black, curly hair to that of the buffalo; however, another version refers to a Private John Randall of the 10th who was assigned to provide an escort for two civilian hunters during a trip to Montana in 1867. At one point during the trip, the hunters were attacked by a large Cheyenne war party. Whilst the two hunters died almost immediately, Randal escaped and kept his attackers at bay with his single pistol until help arrived from a nearby camp. Randal survived despite a pistol shot to the shoulder and 11 lance wounds. Cheyenne warriors later reported that he had “fought like a buffalo”, and the name may come from that.

    The bicycle has been used in conflict almost since it was invented. It is credited as being the only thing that allowedthe North Vietnamese army to keep the Ho Chi Minh trail open during the Vietnam war, and allowed Japanese troops during WW2 to advance quickly through difficult terrain in Thailand and Burma, whislt carrying heavy loads.

    Premier Icon Lifer
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    johnellison – Member

    ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ was a term applied to Black units in the US army.

    Whilst it became a generic term for African-American troops in the US Army, the origins of it are somewhat obscure.

    Oh for sure, just had images of someone setting up a ‘Buffalo Soldiers Bikepacking Club’ without knowing the rather more contentious background to the name.

    Premier Icon kayak23
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    May I be the first to say, Dreadlock Rasta…
    πŸ™‚

    noteeth
    Member

    Dirt Rag had an article on this a while back.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
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    I met Rene Wildhaber in Moab. He had a go on the fatbike I’d rented. His attractive blond companion told me about his buffalo soldiers blog. I assumed he just liked Bob Marley.

    GEAR – 68 inches–17 teeth by 7 teeth

    That doesn’t sound right.
    17×7 gives 68 inch gear OK, but a 7 tooth sprocket ?

    I’ve seen some old bikes with every other tooth missing, so a 1/2″ pitch chain would use a 1″ pitch chainwheel.
    Like this.

    Maybe that’s what they used, so equivalent to 34×14, or 5.4m.

    Premier Icon annebr
    Subscriber

    Do they go round the outside?

    johnellison
    Member

    Oh for sure, just had images of someone setting up a ‘Buffalo Soldiers Bikepacking Club’ without knowing the rather more contentious background to the name.

    Nope. Sorry. Lost me there… πŸ™„

    grum
    Member

    In 1897 they rode 1900 miles cross country in 34 days. Obviously the bikes were SS and loaded weighed over 70lb.

    Looks like nice slack head angles on those bikes. I bet they shredded mad gnar on the brown pow.

    Premier Icon mrelectric
    Subscriber

    I was reminded recently that the Japanese Imperial army took Malaya & Singapore in 1941 by the infantry advancing very quickly using using bikes.

    Also, Peugot bikes were the main form of transport on the Ho Chi Mihn trail which supplied the NVA & Viet Cong into South Vietnam despite saturation bombing by the USAF.

    Ok, so not all bikers are the good guys…

    Premier Icon Lifer
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    johnellison – Member
    Nope. Sorry. Lost me there… πŸ™„

    Then what are you rolling your eyes at?

    bazookajoe
    Member

    Reading The Lost Cyclist at the moment, a bit on the epic side. The cyclist it’s about reluctantly switched to the increasingly fashionable safety cycle from his penny farthing for a round the world jaunt (he didn’t make it round the world, hence the ‘lost’ bit).

    toxicsoks
    Member

    Swiss army bike –

    pymwymis
    Member

    Fellas, this is chickenfeed compared to the Vietcong transporting well over 100lbs of kit by bike the full length of Vietnam via Laos down the Ho Chi Minh trail under massive bombardment from the USAF.

    If you’ve ever seen the topography of Vietnam then you’ll appreciate the magnitude of the task. There be chuffing massive, steep, impenetrably jungly mountains full of ‘orrible crawly bitey things, and dreadful weather – very hot and wet or cold misty and wet. All told a network of 16,000km of tracks.

    Now that is a black route if ever there was one.

    As an aside, (the Vietnamese Government maintain) that incredibly more Vietcong were killed by tigers while undertaking this particular task than were ever killed by by the US who were specifically targetting them.

    Ok history lesson over – I’m not always this dull but I just visited there and wondered at the opportuities for ridiculous (painful) mountain biking holidays.

    pymwymis
    Member

    An image for you – the Vietamese haven’t changed by the way – they still load their bikes like this now !

    http://historiana.eu/sources/show/bicycle-on-ho-chi-minh-trail

    Premier Icon JoeG
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    Buffalo Soldiers video from PBS:

    Video

    (Couldn’t get it to embed!)

    Premier Icon Lifer
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    Thanks for the link, enjoyed that but again it mentions Buffalo soldiers in relation to Black units rather than the Cycle units.

    Double hard whatever they were called though!

    rusty90
    Member

    IIRC the Viet Cong used bikes to carry equipment, and pushed them, rather than rode them.

    Bikes were used in WWII. The Harlow Cycle Museum has a nice example of a folding bike used by British paratroopers, and here’s the German team in the 1940 Tour de France

    bencooper
    Member

    There’s a whole book about military bicycles:

    Available for perusal in the Kinetics library πŸ˜‰

    rusty90
    Member

    Excellent TTT formation from the Swiss there!

    atlaz
    Member

    They had a FIFTEEN week training course to join the unit and the entry requirement was to run 2 miles in 12 minutes. I’m guessing those guys are fairly fit then.

    Here’s one of the original parabikes:

    swiss01
    Member

    i have a swedish army bike that i use when i’m visiting the family. at the end of the cold war the army pulled out and left loads of them on the island. great for the flat but you wouldn’t want to be going uphill for any distance.

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