A Chat with a Moto-Cycling Lad from Riverside, Illinois

A Chat with a lad he had such a good time, so full of every-day-out-in-the-wide-world experiences, that he really didn’t remember when he started; he had lost his diary; but he thought he had left vhicago “about a month ago,” and he had spent some days here.

He had ridden over a rattlesnake somewhere. The sheriff in Lexington, Neb., had taken his gun away. He had started out from his home in Riverside, a Chicago suburb on his Excelsior 1914 regular, with the idea that some pretty good roads were pretty bad ones, but by the time he reached the California line, via the Lincoln Highway route, he had learned to believe that some “roads” with celebrated names were good to keep away from and that some pretty rotten roads were pretty good ones. And life looked good to him.

He was a tall, 20-year-old lad, good-looking except for an over-sun-baked nose; a Lewis Institute student in Chicago, well acquainted with some newspaper cartoonists; with a penchant for electricity and possessed of a wireless outfit at home; and with enough mechanical ability to have overhauled his motor thoroughly before starting out.

He shipped his “boat” by boat from San Francisco to San Diego, rode northward again, the coast route, dropped in here and took supper with ye editor one evening, and next morning rambled on toward Paso Robles, where his uncle has a ranch.

Yep-He’d Have “Mud” on His Pie

A.C. Cameron was his name, and Tommy Girton, the “X” distributor, sent him over. Thanks, Tommy. It’s like a day off to talk with an intelligent young fellow-whether he was educated in a school or by experience-out to see the world as one of the best ways in which it is possible to see it -on two wheels, with either a motor or a good pair of legs to push them and an open, cheerful set of brains above them. It was great to just gabble with this six-foot boy about the world’s nothings-inparticular; as a wideawake boy, untouched by slum stuff, sees them; and just as great to see the facility with which his cheerful countenance absorbed a well-cooked supper and expressed wistful hesitancy when he was asked if he would have a little “mud” on his pie. He had lost his memory of dates, but not his tourist’s appetite.

He Didn’t Rob the Soldier

He shipped his “store” clothes through; wore a corduroy lined tan leather coat (leather side out while riding, vice versa when in town-good cleanliness idea) and corduroy breeches. At San Diego he met a United States soldier, and in Los Angeles, later, was wearing a good-as-new pure wool army shirt and breeches. And he didn’t rob the soldier, either. Soldiers save ‘em and sell ‘em.

**Mechanical Experiences **

He highly praised his 1914 “X,” which is a quiet runner, and found the handlebar clutch fine in the sand.

He had three-inch Goodyear studded tires. The front one he had ridden to Boston last year, on the same machine. That tire was used 4500 miles before it started on this tour. In Los Angeles he still had Chicago air and looked good for a return trip. The new rear tire, put on in Chicago, leaked slowly. On last year’s Boston trip he had many punctures-but on this trip he did not have a single one.

Last year, frequent chain breaks-chain too light. This trip, none. Short chain, Perry; long one, Duckworth.

Last year, on “good” roads, many spills. This trip only three-one entering Cheyenne, where he broke his pedal gear, which was excellently duplicated by a blacksmith; one coming into Laramie and one near Elko, where he made a 30-foot dive into sand.

At Grand Island, Neb., a wise garage gazabo noticed the magneto control worked hard, so he oiled the magneto-salivated it. Later Cameron, at Columbus, discovered no spark of life in the mag, and cleaned it with gasoline, fortunately being lucky and getting it reassembled as one, not more than one, magneto.

Somewhere along, somebody sold him something called oil-fit for a harvesting machine, it proved. Result: Had to have a bunch of carbon burned out at Cheyenne.

At Winnemucca, Nev., he smashed his rear wheel and with his machine rode in an army truck about 160 miles to Reno, where it was fixed.

**A Scotchman and Three Dollars **

Maybe that carbon burning-out at Cheyenne is what made him consider the finest stretch of road on the whole tour to have been the 60 miles between there and Laramie, though it was a 2500-foot climb and he had a passenger perched on top of the specially-constructed miniature trunk -better than a suitcase, he found-on his luggage carrier. The passenger, a Riverside, Ill., man, selling pianos, he met in Cheyenne. The man said the fare to Laramie was $3. He would give the same to Cameron for a ride on the roof of his caboose. Though young, Cameron’s Scotch. He took him.

**How He Found the Roads **

Till he had reached Cheyenne, nothing special, roadwise; a gradual change from the well-worn though not always creditable roads of the Middle West, to the two-trails-in-the-grass of the western prairies. At Laramie, after the good stretch from Cheyenne, and copping that $3, it snowed-something always follows good luck like that. Spent several days there. Then on, over roads fairly packed by snow, but rather slippery. Through Rawlins, Rock Springs, Green River, Evanston-he remembered his map if not his dates; Ogden; then north of Salt Lake, via Kelton-sandy, rotten road, and very hot heat crossing into Nevada; Cobre, Elko, Battle Mountain, Winnemucca-sandy, much sage brush, plenty of hills visible on either side. Winnemucca to Reno, 160 miles, in a truck, as aforesaid. From Reno to Truckee, Cisco, Emigrant Gap-he should have gone the Lake Tahoe way for even finer scenery-to Sacramento and San Francisco.

Meeting his machine, which went by boat, at San Diego, he took in the s.w. -cor-of-the U.-S. and crossed the line to Tia Juana (Tee-ah-Wahna, “Old Aunt Jane”). Coming north, he found a few sharp turns; detours all very well marked; slept at sleepy Laguna. Then on to Los Angeles.

**Concerning His Tank Capacity **

This road and that road, everywhere, O.K. considering; people O.K.; life O.K. He carried a two-quart canteen across, and in the warm spots filled it-and emptied it-twice a day; in other words, drank a gallon of water a day! Oh, to be a boy again; an always-empty boy, with unlimited capacity. But the other day a resident of Daggett, in the Mojave desert, said he always drank two gallons a day!

** The Quick or the Dead? **

Cameron knew Charlie Balke was at Hawthorne track, Chicago, the day Balke ran into a track roller by mistake. Balke rests quietly beneath the green grass and a neatly carved and polished piece of granite in a beautiful, well-kept cemetery, near Los Angeles. Cameron lives on. There’s a difference-but who knows? Maybe Balke has the best of it.