A few weeks ago, I took some time to visit the University of Findlay to do some personal photography of an event that made history. A week before, a friend of mine told me The Wheelmen were coming to town with intents to make a Guinness World Book Record by stacking the largest amount of high wheel bicycles ever recorded. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, thinking originally the cyclists were going to be on top of each other, but it was pretty amazing to watch all of it come together as hundreds of people showed up to be part of this history-making event.
Another friend and I arrived at the university campus around 10 a.m., and cyclists from all over the country began showing up in authentic costume dress. What was fascinating was talking to individuals from Boston, Pennsylvania and elsewhere who said they’d driven all night to be at the event and then gave us some insight to the history of the bicycles.
Called “Ordinaries,” the high wheel bicycles were mostly manufactured before 1918, and several of the cycles that were at this event were built in the 1800’s! It was amazing to me that they were in such good condition considering they were over 110 years old.
The Guinness World Record feat began by placing a few cyclists and their bicycles with the highest wheels in the middle and then building out, one biker at a time, on either side of the center from there. Many used a stepladder to place themselves on their bike, especially because they didn’t want to send off a chain reaction of toppling over. The whole process took around an hour ½ + to complete. Thankfully there were several volunteers who helped keep the cyclists steady from behind, as once someone was up, they couldn’t move from their bicycle.
Once everything was set, the assistants from behind had to let go and everyone had to balance, arm crossed over arm holding each others handle bars, balanced on their own for at least 3 minutes. By the end, it was said that 163 cyclists were able to stand in unison balanced together.