The Wheelmen is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of American cycling, promoting the restoration and riding of early cycles manufactured prior to 1918, and encouraging cycling as part of modern living. Members are intent on learning lost skills, retelling lost stories, researching and writing of the golden era of cycling.
The Wheelmen embrace a broad range of bicycle-related activities, centered on the historical aspects of cycling. Such activities 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.
Collectors and restorers have salvaged thousands of antique bicycles and preserved large quantities of bicycle memorabilia, literature and other valuable materials of the golden era 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 it’s 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.
Each year the club has an Annual Meet. The Annual Meet is an activity where many Wheelmen worldwide join together in one spot for a four-day celebration of antique cycling. Annual Meets have been held in such historic places as 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. Ten-mile tours on bicycles manufactured prior to 1918 are also held in conjunction with Annual Meets as well as twenty-five and one-hundred-mile (century) rides, bicycle games, and uniform and costume judging. Ribbons, certificates, and medals are presented at most meets for distance rides, games, races, and uniform judging.
The club has established a constitution and by-laws, elected National Officers and State Captains, and appointed Committee Chairmen. In addition to the Annual Meet, there are many Wheelmen gatherings and activities throughout the year sponsored by the various State Divisions that include many of the fore mentioned activities and rides. Periodically, international tours are organized for Wheelmen to attend other gatherings sponsored by the International Veteran’s Cycle Association.
The club caters to the needs of all aspects of cycle history, collectors, non-riders, and riders of high wheels, tricycles, tandems and safety bicycles. Men, women and children of all ages are welcome to participate in events throughout the year. Wheelmen membership is open to everyone worldwide whether you own an antique bicycle or just enjoy the early days of our history when cycling was being born. Cycling history is an important part of our American heritage. We invite you to join us in reviving and reliving the memories of the 1880’s and 1890’s – the great cycling era in America.
If you like vintage bicycles and glimpsing how Americans enjoyed the bicycle a century ago, then this group is one whose demonstrations you should make it an obligation to take in.
They have an both a demonstration and an historian on site when they visit your city to guide you through what life was like when bicycles were almost as tall as their riders.
Demonstrators are both male and female and some quite young children as well! Earlier this week members of the group did a midweek metric century on the Illinois Prairie Path.