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Pan-American: 1935

Pan-American: 1935

        Ready for international bicycle ride. Henry G. Slaughter of Washington, supported by those interested in publicizing the Inter-American Highway, prepares to leave for a trip which will carry him, if he is successful, down into the tropics through Central America to the Argentine.

November 23, 1935. Washington, D.C. "Henry G. Slaughter." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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If you look hard

you can see the revolution counter on the front fork and the pin to turn it on one of the spokes.

Foot Help

I have no idea what was available back in the day, but riding without at least toe clips makes it a lot harder when climbing.

I logged many thousand miles on a bicycle back in the 1970s
including a parts of Montana and Wyoming in 1976.

Gee, I wonder why my knees hurt so much these days?


A blurb in the Loredo Times from Feb. 6, 1936 reported that Mr. Slaughter decided to abandon "the idea." He had written a friend that he had encountered delays in entering Guatemala on account of very strict laws of entry, and now that the rainy season had begun in that country he had decided to abandon the trip. By June 1936, however, The Carthage Watchman reported that Henry and his handlebar-based typewriter were about to make a second attempt.

Wobble Instability

Forgive me for posting twice, but rhhardin's comment about Wobble Instability reminded me of the enormous front basket I had on my one speed J.C. Higgins nerd bike when I was a kid so I could deliver papers.

It had so much weight forward, especially with a load of papers, that I had to be extremely careful making turns, and I dumped it more than once.

I learned to hate that hill I had to climb halfway through my route, and envied those "rich kids" who had parents that could afford one of them "English racers".

Pith Helmet and Linemans boots

Just like they use in the Tour de France.

Panama or Bust

Henry had just left San Antonio, Texas and bound for Panama a week after this photo, Methinks there are some inaccuracies abounding. See attached article from the San Antonio Light, published 30 November 1935.

Not So Fast!

Seems Henry did make it as far as Panama. May of 1936 had him in front of the US Capitol after a 3400 mile trip. He made the front page of the Erie County Independent. (NY)

At that point he has a typewriter attached to his handlebars to ". . . type notes. . . " - I bet the paper was beat up by the bottom of the page.

Story of Evolution

Early nerd.

Incomplete Preparation

This guy isn't fully prepared for such a long trip and doesn't appear to understand what's cool.

For example, he has no streamers coming out of his handlebars, and no playing cards rubbing against his spokes. Nor does he have a hub polisher on either wheel.

Not to mention he's not wearing a bow tie and a houndstooth suit.

Pure Amateur Hour.

I bet he didn't make it.

Wobble Instability

You can pile any amount of stuff as high as you want on a bicycle so long as it doesn't flex under side forces.

Otherwise the bike goes unstable. The front bag looks bad in this regard unless it's all rigid. Also it blocks his light from shining on the road, which in 1935 is surely all potholes.

So I'd guess he didn't make it, unless he piled the front bag in the back and strapped it down.

I'll wager -

I'll bet that he doffs his necktie before he reaches San Luis Obispo.

[Which would have been a major detour on a trip from D.C. to Argentina. - Dave]

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