Simon’s Cycle Shorts are now available to buy in both paperback (£8.39) and Kindle (£2.99) editions from Amazon. HERE

 

“Hey buddy, you boys been far?”

“Yeah…a long way fella. Longer than any of us thought possible. We just been ridden all the way from Fort Missoula, Montana.”

“Montana?”

“Yessir, 1900 hundred miles in 41 days – we’re all here too. The Lord only knows how, but every last one of us present – all 23 bikes – completed the ride.”

“I was wonderin’ why the 10,000 St Louis folks turned out so eagerly to watch you parade today – so why the ride?”

“Long story man. But one that will go down in the history of bicycling; the greatest ride ever – and completed by the Buffalo soldiers of the 25th Infantry Cycling Corps.”

“I ain’t never heard of the Cycling Corps. So you’re with the US Army then?”

“Yep, sure are, and one day we’ll be famous for what we just done.”

“You must be pretty tired then?”

“I guess so, but not that tired that I can’t tell you what happened; listen up, someone needs to hear what really happened on that journey. Mark my words, ‘cos it’ll all be changed by the time the Press get to hear of it and that darned journalist writes it the way he wants.”

“What d’you mean?”

“Well, a white guy call Boos came along with us for the ride ‘cos the two white officers wanted to prove that the bicycle was best suited as a transportation device for troops by testing it ‘most thoroughly’ – and yes, we showed that a bicycle corps could travel twice as fast as cavalry and infantry for less than a third of the cost across all sorts of terrain – and we don’t need feedin’ nor restin’ like horses. But whilst they’re admitting to a few flats and a couple of frame breaks, they haven’t talked to anyone about what really happened out there. ”

“What do you mean?”

“Look, you’ll see we’re not like usual bikes. We were built specifically for the US Army by A G Spalding in Massachusetts – you know, the worlds biggest bicycle builder? Take a look and you’ll see that we were made with stainless steel wheel rims, tandem spokes for extra strength, extra strong forks and crowns, luggage carriers and brakes; we even got Christy saddles. Without equipment we weigh nearly 35 pounds – and then we can carry another 25 pounds of equipment including, a knapsack, a blanket roll, a shelter and even a rifle with fifty rounds of ammunition. And, you know what, those tough men who rode us here went through every privation and suffering imaginable.”

“So what happened?”

“Well it was rough from the very start – we had snow and hail and rain for the first ten days – man, that was hard and would have been enough to have broken most men. The poor boys only had two sets of clothes so nothin’ was ever dry. But then we reached Nebraska and it got hot – so hot our frames stung the hand to touch and the riders was getting blisters from the bars. But it started to go real wrong in the town of Alliance. Moss, the Lieutenant leading us got ill from poisonous water – well most of the men got a little ill, but he had to stay behind to convalesce. Well, that meant the Doctor was put in charge and we spent another five gruesome days crossing the Nebraska Sandhills – I never seen such a test of man and machine; day after day of just sand, sun and cactus – they got swollen tongues and burned skin and the like, an’ we got sand in the bearings and prickly pear bush spines in the tyres . Well, it was a test for all of ’em except, apparently, Corporal Eugene Jones who didn’t seem to be taken ill like the rest of them. But then he started to make trouble with the doctor. Jones had been trouble since the start but Moss and the Sergeant, Mingo Saunders, knew how to control him. But with Moss gone and Saunders out of sorts, Jones started to badger the doc.”

“What did Jones want?”

“He wanted out – he’d had enough of the sufferin’ – but the doctor wouldn’t let him leave for the nearby railroad station. Then Jones said he would expose the doctor as a fraud – somehow he knew that the doctor had failed his final examinations and was in the Army under a false pretence. So they did a deal and agreed that Jones should leave the trip when they reached the town of Grand Island – the doctor would say that he had an injury. None of the others knew of the deal – but we bikes knew – we overheard ’em talking.”

“So then what happened?”

“Well when we got to Grand Island, Lieutenant Cook re-joined us and the doctor told Jones that he was OK to leave. As the Corporal left the hotel early the next morning to catch train, the doctor followed him and shot him dead alongside the railroad.”

“How do you know he shot him?”

“Because he rode on me to catch up with Jones – he just rode up behind him as he wandered up the sidewalk towards the station and shot him in the back with his revolver. It was early and there no one about. We then went back to the Hotel and he told Cook that he had let Jones go because he was sick. Nothing more was said.”

“So he killed him in cold blood!”

“Yep – an’ we all left town straight after breakfast and continued on our journey. Never heard another word about Jones. I guess the townsfolk thought he must have been shot because he was black; not unusual in Nebraska.”

“So what now? – what you guys going to do now?”

“I dunno – I would like to think that the whole world knows what we’ve done and everything will be different – we should be famous!”

“I wouldn’t count on it.”

“What?”

“Well I guess you haven’t heard what happened earlier this month whilst you were toiling across the sand? Two steamships, the Excelsior and the Portland arrived in San Francisco bringing in prospectors from the Yukon with $2 million of gold in their bags – there is only one story in the Press at the moment – and it ain’t you guys.”

 

Simon’s Cycle Shorts are now available to buy in both paperback (£8.39) and Kindle (£2.99) versions from Amazon. HERE

 

Copyright © 2016 by Simon Bever. All Rights Reserved