IMAGERY – The Los Angeles Wheelmen

Angelenos have had a passion for bicycling for longer than you might think. The image below was taken in Boyle Heights in 1893, about ten years after the bicycle chain was invented. Reformed in 1945, the Los Angeles Wheelmen bicycle riding club is still going strong, with multiple rides every week. There are far more than eleven members now. And don’t worry, I doubt they’re still wearing that fancy uniform. :)

The club’s ride schedule is here.

From their site:

“We are a group of bicyclists who enjoy the pleasure of riding with friends. We are not a racing club, and we welcome members of all abilities. We offer easier, moderate and difficult rides. We hold some multi-day trips, and in late June we offer the Grand Tour, a 24-hour ride of 120+, 200, 300 or 400 miles. At our social events, we make up for all the calories burned while riding. Our monthly newsletter, “The Gooseneck,” contains a descriptive ride schedule and much other news. Newcomers are welcome to try a few of our rides before deciding whether to join. Helmets are mandatory on all rides.”

©USC Digital Archive

Photographic portrait of the 11 Los Angeles Wheelmen posing as a group in cadet type uniforms at the East Side (Boyle Heights) track, October 3, 1893. “The Los Angeles wheelmen on the track include, left to right, standing — Jack Winters, John S. Thayer, Faye Stefenson, Phil Kitchen, W.J. Allen, E.S. Pauly, Tracy Hugh Rall, W.A. Tufts, and Walter Tyler; seated — Lord Gattensbury, A.D. Cummings, and Ernest Steuart, Paully.”

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7 Responses to “IMAGERY – The Los Angeles Wheelmen”

  1. Coolness. I guess bloomers hadn’t hit their stride as ladies bike attire yet, or there would have been some WheelGrrls in the mix. :)

  2. oinker says:

    I am surprised that the Wheelmen were featured. Of all the cycling clubs in LA, this one is notoriously rude and unpleasant to ride with.

    • lynnster says:

      I’m sorry to hear that. Huh.

      It was featured just as a current tie to a historical photograph from the USC archive. Whenever I post a photo, I try to make sure I post whatever follow-up information about it that I can. Since they were still around, that was the motivation.

      I appreciate your input. I wasn’t previously aware of their reputation. Point noted.

    • David Nakai says:

      I am surprised to read this.

      I am a Los Angeles Wheelmen member for 15 years and we are a courteous and friendly group.

      If they were not, how would they have stayed around for 65 years.

      Come join a ride and see for yourself.

      Happy safe bicycling, David

    • MikeEberts says:

      Ooooh! Check out the cool fixie. Is that an early Brooks saddle on it? That bike wouldn’t look too out of place cruising around Echo Park.

      By the way, I’m also a longtime L.A. Wheelmen member. I can’t remember us being rude to anyone, but I kinda like the idea of us being notorious.



    Just looking for (other) bike routes to try and thought I would type “Los Angeles Wheelman” since I had ridden with them from 1970 (at age 13) till 1976.

    Not only the most enjoyable touring I have ever done, but also, discovered, true distance cycling at a young age. Did my first century with them by age 14 (on my old 1971 Raleigh International).

    I ALWAYS remember the Los Angeles Wheelman members as a friendly bunch (still remember an elderly cyclist “Herman” who “took me under his wing” while we were on a 50+ mile “medium” ride). I was 13 yrs old and still ridding my 1st 10 spd (a 45 lb Schwinn “Varsity !!!”) on this ride with NO toe clips/straps.

    Many years later (early 80’s in Orange Ca), rode with another club, but only for USCF affiliation (raced for a few years), but still remember, and will always have a special place in my memories, for all those wonderful LA Wheelman tours/rides. From Irvine (off Sand Canyon Rd) to Ventura County, my most enjoyable cycling memories are (still) those with the LA Wheelman (during my youth – am 53 now).

    Living in LA as a young teenager, son (“only child”) to a single working mother (who encouraged my cycling), the Los Angeles Wheelman/cycling, probably did more to “keep me out of trouble” than I will ever know.

    In general, people into cycling are often most enjoyable to talk too and to be around. Back in “the old days” (70’s), we ALWAYS waved to each other as serious cyclist were far and few (compared to the last 25 years).

    Long read – thanks for your time.
    Phillip (Corona, Ca)

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