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Bikes of the Klondike Gold Rush

“White Man: He sit down, walk like hell.”

That was how one Native Alaskan described Ed Jesson riding a fixed gear bicycle down the frozen Yukon River in the winter of 1900. How a man with practically no supplies and the simplest of bikes could ride over a thousand miles in the dead of an Arctic winter boggles our twenty-first century minds until we remember that for Ed Jesson, and hundreds of his fellow Klondike “wheelmen” (their name for themselves) there was gold, “haunting and haunting, luring them on as of old.” Jesson was racing from Dawson City to Nome, Alaska in the hope of being amongst the first to stake a claim on the gold-laden, frozen beaches of the Bering Sea. More so than any Olympian cyclist, the Klondike wheelmen were chasing the gold. They also were fueled by a quaintly Victorian faith in the bicycle. Pierre Berton wrote in his seminal Klondike Fever that “the velocipede was to the 1890s what the television set was to the 1950s…Such was the faith in the bicycle that thousands were prepared to believe that this was the ideal way of crossing the mountain passes.”

Gold Rush Wheelmen pose with their “wheels” behind a dog sled, circa 1900.

Fast forward to 2017: For more than a dozen years a new breed of intrepid winter cyclists have tackled the challenge of riding the Iditarod and other arctic trails. And while technology has certainly advanced in the intervening century, technology doesn’t replace tenacity. The self-titled “stampeders” of the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush were nothing if not tenacious. (Although it’s entirely possible that our historical view is skewed, since only the successfully tenacious had the subsequent opportunity to record their acts of derring do. Before they were able to pen memoirs, the unsuccessful wheelmen of the North froze to death in blizzards, or were swallowed up by rotten ice.)

Jeff Oatley, right, poses with his wife Heather Best at the start of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest trail from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon.

Three northern wheelmen stand out: Ed Jesson, Max Hirschberg and B.H. Svendson. Each faced mechanical hurdles that would defy tax their counterparts a hundred years later. In 2003 a team of three cyclists profiled in National Geographic attempted the same journey, and found that “the cold does weird things.” At forty below zero tubes spontaneously deflate, grease freezes and tire pumps explode. Even today, crashing a bike in the frigid cold risks snapping cranks and pedals. Rubber tubes and tires freeze solid. Bike chains snaps. Riding the Yukon is not for the faint of heart or the ill-prepared. When Ed Jesson broke a pedal on his bike in 1900, he first carved replacements out of wood, each of which only lasted a day. After buying nuts and bolts, he was able to hack a more durable pedal out of sheet metal with the assistance of a local missionary.

BH Svendson and his fully-loaded arctic bike.

Jesson, Hirschberg and Svendson traveled light. Just as modern, minimalist touring cyclists rely upon their credit cards to buy a hot meal and a warm bed, Klondike wheelmen carried “pokes” of gold to buy services at the road houses that were stationed every twenty miles or so along the trails they were using. Hirschberg wrote,

“My poke held gold dust worth $1,500 and my purse contained silver and gold coins. Next to my skin around my waist I carried a belt with $20 gold pieces that had been stitched into it by my aunt in Youngstown, Ohio, before I had left to go to the Klondike.”

In 21st Century terms, Hirschberg was carrying over $40,000. Even at the exorbitant prices of the Gold Rush, he was adequately covered.

And they weren’t breaking new trail, either. They were following the tracks packed down by dog sled teams. While their tires look comically narrow to us today, less than an inch and a half wide, they fit perfectly into the grooves cut by the sled runners, giving the men an easy trail to ride. Jesson wrote,

“The sleds had scraped most of the snow off the [icy trail], and left it in fine condition for the wheel as the rubber tire stuck to this trail very well and all I had to do was look out for the icy cracks, which were very numerous.”

The Klondike wheelmen traveled with a bare minimum of gear. Jesson records that,

“The day I left Dawson, March 2, 1900 was clear and crisp, 30 degrees below zero. I was dressed in a flannel shirt, heavy fleece-lined overalls, a heavy mackinaw coat, a drill parka, two pairs of heavy woolen socks and felt high-top shoes, a fur cap that I pulled down over my ears, a fur nosepiece, plus fur gauntlet gloves.

On the handlebars of the bicycle I strapped a large fur robe. Fastened to the springs, back of the seat, was a canvas sack containing a heavy shirt, socks, underwear, a diary in waterproof covering, pencils and several blocks of sulfur matches. In my pockets I carried a penknife and a watch.”

Bikes stand in a snowbank in the Yukon.

“For most of Yukon history, bicycling was a means of winter transportation rather than a competitive summer pastime,” wrote John Firth in Yukon Sport: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, “The greatest risk was severe frostbite. The advantage was the cost.” Keeping a team of sled dogs alive in the frozen north required an enormous expenditure of time, resources and money. While folks thought Ed Jesson “was crazy for riding a wheel,” especially since he owned a good dog team, he countered that he didn’t have to cook dog food for the bicycle at night, and on especially good days he could cover one hundred miles: three or four times farther than a dogsled.

Today’s fat bikers do not have the benefit of riding well-packed trails, or finding a warm roadhouse every twenty miles along the trail, and are forced to carry far more gear on bikes far bigger and heavier than those of the Gold Rush wheelmen. In 2003 National Geographic published an account of three cyclists who followed in the tracks of Ed Jesson and Max Hirschberg from Dawson City to Nome, and found that they couldn’t compete:

“Obviously things have changed,” Kevin Vallely, one of the fat bikers, said. “There was much more traffic on the trail when he traveled, but [their] speed has stunned us. It’s possible, I guess, but we’re a little suspicious…This is incredible—possibly too incredible.”

As Robert Service, bard of the Yukon, wrote,

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold.
The Wheelman who set the Whitehorse-Dawson record.


Wesley Cheney leads Klondike bike tours for Sockeye Cycle Co. in Skagway, Alaska. He earned his Eagle Scout Badge with Troop 216 in Springfield, Vermont, biked from London to Rome via the Route Napoleon, sailed with the USS Kearsarge to Equatorial Africa, earned a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy from Old Dominion University, completed the final Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200km Brevet, and most recently delivered freaky fast sandwiches for Jimmy John’s in Norfolk, Virginia. He regularly contributes questions to The Thomas Jefferson Hour, plays the ukulele and the flugelhorn, reads the New Testament in German, and prefers to wear a kilt.


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Rolling Recumbent, Part 1: The Utility of Recumbents


You’ve seen those oddball, laid-back bikes being ridden by slightly goofy guys (yeah, it’s usually guys). They’re smiling. They’re waving. And they’re looking suspiciously comfortable. Recumbents are practically the opposite of everything that bicycling is supposed to be about. There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s blessedly little comfort in bicycling. Right? Well, maybe not. From the start, recumbents have been criticized for being too comfortable. They first made a splash on the international cycling scene in 1933, when an enterprising French bicycle manufacturer, Charles Mochet, applied to have his “velorizontal” bicycles certified for competition by the Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI. The Mochet recumbents had distinct aerodynamic advantages.

Recumbent bicycles offer less aerodynamic drag and more visibility.
Recumbent bicycles offer less aerodynamic drag and more visibility.

For the same amount of effort, a rider can go faster on a recumbent because they’re presenting less wind resistance. Recumbents both look faster and feel faster. Humans have evolved to see small objects in motion as faster than larger objects going the same speed (because small, fast predators were more dangerous than big, slow predators). A Ferrari or a Ducati looks fast just standing still. As in a low-slung sports car or motorcycle, the sense of speed on a recumbent is exaggerated by being closer to the ground.

Because the body isn’t folded over into an inherently uncomfortable position, recumbent riders can be more efficient. Cyclists on recumbents don’t suffer from the neck pain, numb hands and compressed feet that are the bane of traditional bikes. Recumbents are often a recovery vehicle for injured riders, who’ve crashed their “regular” bikes but don’t want to give up riding altogether (including yours truly).

There’s also an argument that recumbents are safer in crashes. Instead of landing on their hands in crashes (or in my case, my shoulder), recumbent riders are thrown forward onto their feet. It’s far easier to “run off” a crash upright than it is to catch yourself on your hands. In a recumbent crash, head injuries are less likely, too.

Some folks say that recumbents are more dangerous because of their lower profile. Supposedly recumbents aren’t as visible as traditional bikes. But ‘bent riders retort that because their bikes are so unique, they actually get more attention on the road. And being at eye-level with automobile drivers makes it easier to notice distracted drivers, as well as make eye contact with drivers.

Paul Morand rode a Mochet recumbent bicycle to victory in the 1934 Paris-Limoges road race.
Paul Morand rode a Mochet recumbent bicycle to victory in the 1933 Paris-Limoges road race.

Recumbent bikes are fast. They’re so fast, in fact, that they’ve been banned since 1934 by cycling’s governing body, the UCI. After first certifying recumbents for competition, the UCI acceded to the demands of traditional bicycle manufacturers and reversed their position. Paul Morand, a piddling Cat-II racer, won the Paris-Limoges race on a “velorizontal” Mochet recumbent, and Francis Faure shattered the two-decade-old Hour Record on a Mochet. Before the next season, the UCI introduced rules that effectively banned recumbents. Ostensibly the decision was made for safety reasons, but economics and tradition played no small part. The state of mainstream cycling has been essentially stultified in regard to rider position and comfort ever since. Bicycle design in the past hundred years has been mostly evolutionary, not revolutionary.

“HORIZONTALLY…Francis Faure seems to be enjoying a siesta in contrast to his competitors…It had to happen! Faure was too comfortably extended, and fell asleep for real…Wake me up when the race is over…The jealous spectators will also demand horizontal seating” Caption from a French editorial cartoon, originally published February, 1934.

The Hour Record, the test of how far a cyclist can ride in a single hour, has been the gold standard for both cardiovascular fitness and technological refinement in bicycling. Time and again cyclists have used new technology to ride faster, be it chain drives, pneumatic tires, tensioned wheels or derailleurs. Francis Faure won numerous times in velodromes on a Mochet recumbent, and broke the Hour Record (which had stood for nearly twenty years) when he rode 45km in 1935, only to see his record revoked by the UCI. Sixty years later Chris Boardman’s hour record of 56km would also be invalidated by the UCI for too-novel technology. Under the new rules even Bradley Wiggins, Olympian cyclist and Tour de France winner, has only been able to ride 54km in an hour in 2015.

Meanwhile, the hour record on a recumbent was set at 92 kilometers by Francesco Russo, nearly twice as fast as what can be accomplished on a “real” bike. While the best sprinters in the Tour de France might be able to reach 60 or 70 kilometers per hour (about 40mph), the record set at the World Human-Powered Speed Challenge in a fully-faired recumbent is 123 kilometers per hour.

Sam Whittingham on his way to setting a new human-powered speed record at the World Human-Powered Vehicle Speed Challenge.
Sam Whittingham preparing to set a new record at the World Human-Powered Vehicle Speed Challenge. Only three human beings have ever reached the “decimach” (one tenth the speed of sound) under their own power.

Recumbents are so fast that they’re banned from Strava. While Strava is supposed to be a motivational community where riders can compare times on road segments, traditional riders complained to Strava that recumbent riders were too fast. Strava now invalidates winning times for riders accused of riding “bicycles with modifications including wind fairings or other means of minimizing drag…The Segment Leaderboards are a coveted and defended area on Strava, and we do our best to keep them fair.”

So recumbents can be fast, but are they useful? Can they carry a load? Again, the answer is emphatically yes. Look no further than Maria Leijerstam’s sprint to the South Pole on a recumbent tricycle. She rode 650 kilometers in j
ust ten days. Her next closest competitor took almost forty days to cover the same distance on a traditional, upright bike. Recumbent bicyclists have won other, non-UCI, events as well, such as the Race Across America. And amongst the randonneuring set, recumbents have a small but devoted following.

Maria Leijerstam training in Iceland on her custom, recumbent, fat-tired expedition tricycle.
Mamas, don’t let your daughters grow up to ride tricycles. Maria Leijerstam training in Iceland on her custom, recumbent, fat-tired expedition tricycle. Maria holds the record for the fastest human being to the South Pole.

Recumbents also make great rickshaws. Several companies manufacture relaxed pedicabs, and bike hackers have also built their own.

Reno Tondelli built himself a better rickshaw in his garage, no doubt inspired by Atomic Zombie.
Reno Tondelli built himself a better rickshaw in his LA garage, no doubt inspired by Atomic Zombie.

Recumbent rickshaws can be seen in Mexico City, Amsterdam, and Berlin, to mention just a few cities. They are stable, comfortable and often assisted by electric power. They look both futuristic and retrograde at the same time.

Sight seeing in a Dutch recumbent rickshaw. The integrated roof keeps everyone dry.
Sight seeing in a Holland in a recumbent rickshaw. Form follows function: the integrated roof keeps everyone dry and cool.

Don’t be surprised to see a Steampunk’d recumbent at your next ‘Con, either. Recumbents fit right into the “what-if,” revisionist ethos of Steampunk cosplay.

A “steam bicycle,” in a screenbgrab from the science-fictitious game “80 Days.”

Recumbent bikes are also great family bikes. Having ridden with my wife and my children on several upright tandems and hauled my kids in any number of trailers, I can say that it’s far easier to converse with somebody when I’m leaning back toward them, not leaning forward. My five-year-old son loves his rearward “tail gunner” trailer perspective, and he takes great pride in telling me what the cars behind us are doing.

Recumbents are family, too.
Recumbents are family, too.

It’s true: Recumbent Riders have a goofy grin, a side effect of the Recumbent Rock Star Phenomena: If you ride a recumbent around town, you will smile more and wave more and commune more with your fellow citizens as you hear, every three or four blocks, “That bike is so cool!”

or, “Woah! Check out the bike!”

or, “What the what?!? What IS that? What is that even called? Did you make it yourself? Where can I get one? Is it comfortable? Is it fast?”

Unless you’re antisocial, the aerodynamic advantage of a recumbent that allows you to get somewhere faster is offset by the extra time that you have to spend explaining your awesome ride. Don’t ride a recumbent if you don’t want to be an ambassador of cycling.

But are there downsides to recumbents? Aside from the Rock Star Effect, yes. Foremost is the challenge of learning to ride a bike in a new position. Many recumbents require longer cables, which in turn creates more maintenance. Some components on recumbents may not be regularly stocked at your Local Bike Shop or Walmart. They can be harder to park and lock to a rack. Putting a recumbent bike in your car or on top of it can be a challenge, if not downright impossible. Maintaining a recumbent is its own distinct skill as well. I knew a mechanic at a Local Bike Shop that hated recumbents: they were a square peg in a sea of round holes. They didn’t fit into the repair stands, they didn’t fit well into a cramped repair shop, parts had to be special ordered, the chains and cables were all extra long, and they didn’t stack nicely with other bikes. From this mechanic’s point of view, they were annoying and time-consuming. If you’re going to ride a recumbent, you need to either have decent bike mechanic skills or be willing to pay a good mechanic for their time.

What accounts for the recent recumbent resurgence? In a word, the Internet. While mainstream bicycle development is driven by big money and big ticket events like Trek and the Tour de France, a growing number of recumbent bicycles are being made by tinkerers and amateurs. Websites like Atomic Zombie and Bent Rider Online celebrate those who hack, chop, weld and modify new bikes from odd parts. Instead of buying someone else’s conception of a “good bike,” Atomic Zombies build their own custom contraptions, inspired in no small part by the virtual community of like-minded folks they find online.

So, buck the status quo and be a “bike-sexual.”

Don’t Miss Rolling Recumbent Part 2!

Wesley Cheney bikes for family, fun, profit and necessity in Norfolk, Virginia. He writes about bikes and kilts at Foto by Wes and (re)builds bamboo bikes and bamboo kayaks at 757 Makerspace. When he is not delivering sandwiches for Jimmy Johns on his bicycle, he aspires to earn (another) Bachelors in Music Education at his alma mater, Old Dominion University. Wesley loves leather saddles, full fenders, helmet-mounted lights and mirrors, platform pedals, front racks, double kickstands, and vintage friction Suntour Command shifters. He warbles on a flugelhorn, sings bass in the choir of Christ and Saint Lukes Church, and studies ukulele under the amazing Skye Zentz.

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A Brief, Illustrated History of the Bicycle at War, Part 1: Boers on Bikes

This is the first post of our 6 part series, Bicycles at War.

Part 2 The Great War

Part 3 The Bikes of WWII

Part 4 How the Bicycle Won the Vietnam War

Part 5 The Swiss Army Bicycle

Part 6 Bikes in the Cold War and Beyond

“A Bike, A Bike, My Free-State for a Bike!”

The utility of any invention is most tested when it is put to war, and the bicycle is no exception. Like any invention, mankind was quick to press the bicycle into making war. After all, here was a vehicle that gave a man the mobility of a horse, but for only the fraction of the cost, fodder and water. Never mind the steam train, the bicycle was the true Horse of Steel.

French bicycle couriers in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War would not have looked much different from this pair of American chaps.
French bicycle couriers in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War would not have looked much different than
this pair of American chaps, wearing kepis and messenger bags.

The first alleged use of the bicycle under fire came during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when messengers rode high-wheeler bicycles, carrying dispatches from headquarters to troops and back. But the new technology was not sufficient to keep Emperor Napoleon III from being personally captured in battle, losing his army, his war and his throne. And the nascent French bicycle industry, primarily based at the heart of the fighting in the northeast province of Alsace-Lorraine, was practically destroyed by the war. Prior to the war, France had been the technological leader in the bicycle industry. After the war, the British bicycle industry gained ground, led by Birmingham Small Arms, aka BSA, and began selling bikes around the world.

BSA bicycles and tricycles, alongside namesake rifles and pistols, were exported to the other BSA- British South Africa. At the height of the British Empire, the independent republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State (in what is now northeastern South Africa) were wealthy thorns in the side of British hegemony. The two states had been founded by Dutch farmers, or Boers, who had fled the first British invasion of southern Africa almost a century prior during the Napoleonic wars. The Dutch Boers were every bit as freedom-loving as their American cousins, and were in no small part dissatisfied with the British abolition of slavery. When first gold and then diamonds were discovered in the new, independent Boer states, tensions rose as British immigrants began to flood into the Boer gold country. When war broke out in 1899, the British army in South Africa was at least four times bigger than what the Boers could field. Recognizing that they could not win by numbers, the Boers turned to tactics. But like their freedom-loving, bigoted Confederate cousins in America, they were doomed to fail in a total war against an industrialized foe.

Founder and leader of the Boer bike scouts,
The Original Tweedster: With a sweet mustache, a tight tie, a bandolier, a bicycle and a Mauser rifle, Captain “Danie” Theron was hipper than any Brooklyn Fixie Freak, and worth One Thousand Pounds Sterling, dead or alive.

It was in the lead up to hostilities that Boer Captain Daniel Theron (a distant uncle of actress Charlize Theron) first proposed a bicycle corps. While the British had the imperial resources to ship horses by the hundreds of thousands to BSA, and subsequently ride them to death by the tens of thousands, Captain Theron recognized that the Boers did not have such resources, and that horses must be saved for combat. Boer cycling champion JP Jooste accompanied Theron on a trip to to the capitol of Pretoria to pitch their idea, and pointed out in a briefing to a general that, A horse must sleep and eat, while a bicycle needs only oil and a pump before it is ready for action. To which the general replied that a bicycle neither kicks nor bites, to boot. Jooste was challenged to beat a man on horseback from Praetoria to Crocodile Ridge, a distance of 75km, and did so, setting the ground for Theron’s decidedly unconventional kommandos.

Theron’s efforts were initially met with widespread, conservative skepticism. The burghers, or land-owning white citizens, had been raised on horseback, and were reluctant to allow new-fangled contraptions to take the place of traditional horses. They viewed the cyclists as geeky cowards, trying to avoid combat. Theron at first was limited to organizing a messenger brigade, the Vrystaatse Rapportrijders, or “Free State Couriers.” But, “as soon as the burghers saw that the despatch riders could not be stopped by rivers, heavy roads, hostile patrols, or even enemy bullets, they gained a new respect for the corps.”

Vrystaatse Rapportrijders, or “Free State Couriers.” Members of the Boer communications brigade
entrusted with military dispatches pose with their bicycles.

After the free riders proved that the bicycle was both reliable and cheap, Theron was able to establish the TVK, or Theron se Verkenningskorps (Therons Reconnaissance Corps). Theron trained an elite group of a hundred scouts on bicycles, many of which were probably riding (BSA) Birmingham Small Arms bikes from (BSA) British South Africa. Scouts on bikes were able to infiltrate behind British lines and report back without being detected. Theron solved the thorny problem of frequent punctures by fashioning tire strips from rawhide leather, a problem that led British soldiers to discard their bicycles by the hundreds. The riding conditions would have challenged 21st Century mountain bikers: The veldt itself is covered with a thinly growing thorny scrub, just ridable for bicycles, but prevalent of punctures to all but the stoutest tyres. The roads and tracks are quite practicable, but very bumpy, and abounding in sandy patches where sideslips are the rule and riding is difficult, and are intersected with watercourses over which the wheels bump heavily. Nevertheless, with strong machines and careful riding, the bicycle is a most useful method of progression, though across country the horse has undoubtedly the advantage.

While the horse and rider may have had an advantage in ideal terrain, they were also conspicuous, hungry and thirsty. A man on horseback could see for miles on the treeless veldt, and also be seen. Being lower to the ground, cyclists were able to travel long distance unobserved across arid land, and were not nearly as thirsty in the process. In fact, one of Theron’s principal targets of surveillance were the watering holes and paddocks that British troops depended upon to water and feed their horses. Theron’s tactics became so disruptive that a price was placed on his head by the British high command of a thousand pounds Sterling for capture, dead or alive, the equivalent of nearly a million pounds in 2016.

British bicycle troops in South Africa perform a Boer-style ambush after dismounting from their bikes.
British bicycle troops in South Africa perform a Boer-style ambush after dismounting from their bikes.

Recognizing the technological advantage of the bicycle, the British soon raised their own “Cape Cyclin
g Corps,” which was likewise tasked with surveillance and dispatches. Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, who later became the founder of the Boy Scouts, (an elite paramilitary organization, in the immortal words of Red Dawns Colonel Bella), understood the importance of the bicycle, and traveled with his own folding bike. Bicycle messengers were assigned to transport carrier pigeons, as the birds preferred bicycles to horses. And a New Zealander bicycle squad even chased down and captured a contingent of Boers on horseback (presumably the horses were thirsty and hungry).

British troops traveling by train were subject to ambush and booby trap, creating a need to patrol the tracks. Australian forces deployed to BSA built their own four-wheeled, eight-seat bicycle for just such a purpose by bolting together several bike frames and replacing the pneumatic tires with railroad wheels. As with any bicycle, it allowed them to travel quietly and closer to the ground, allowing them to be on the lookout for covert Boer kommandos and demolition charges. The eight-man squad could dismount more quickly from their bicycle than they could from a locomotive, and in a pinch they could also tow a trailer equipped with a Maxim machine gun. Their “war cycle” could also accommodate a stretcher between the bike frames for carrying the wounded back home.

Eight Men, Four Wheels, One Machine Gun: The Boer War Cycle sped along at 50kmh on railroad tracks and over land.
Eight Men, Four Wheels, One Machine Gun: The Australian “War Cycle” sped along at 50kmh over
railroad tracks.

The occupying British army understood the capacity for bicycles to be deployed in asymmetric warfare; a mandatory licensing program was initiated, and lights were required at night: “No person may ride or have in his or her possession a bicycle, tricycle, or automobile, unless the machine has been duly registered at the Commandant’s Office. When a machine is registered, a numbered metal plate will be issued and must be attached to the machine in a conspicuous place. Cyclists passing a Guard or Sentry will do so at a pace of not more than 6 miles an hour and will dismount if ordered to do so. A lamp will be carried on any machine when ridden at night between sunset and sunrise.”

First They Come For Your Bicycles: the terrorist threat posed by bicycles was so great that the British confiscated them en masse.
First They Come For Your Bicycles: The occupying British South African army confiscated 500 bicycles
from Boer Citizens in Graaff-Reinet.

Sadly, Captain Theron’s bicycle did not prove faster than a speeding shell. While scouting on his own in the latter days of the way, he reached the top of a kopfe, or small hill, only to find seven mounted British soldiers on the other side. He quickly opened fire with his rifle, killing four outright, and wounding the other three. Unfortunately, the artillery battery that the troops had been accompanying heard his shots, and saturated the hilltop with fire. We do not know his dying words, but we can only hope that they were thus,

“You can have my bike when you pry it

from my cold, dead hands.”

Just one more flat tire...members of the British South African army bicycle corps fix their bikes in camp.
Just one more flat tire…members of the British South African army bicycle corps fix their bikes in camp.