130 years ago, three members of the New Orleans Bicycle Club set out east from New Orleans on their penny farthings, following the railroad tracks out of the city and into the Louisiana swamp. Their destination: the annual meeting of the League of American Wheelmen in Boston. They had 30 days to get there. The first half of their journey would take them across the Deep South, where there were no long-distance roads and few local ones, across territory that had never before been traveled by bicycle.
This summer, as part of Biketastic Summer New Orleans, historian Lacar Musgrove will release “Astride Lofty Wheels,” a novella-length work of literary nonfiction that narrates in rich detail the historic journey of these three New Orleans cycling pioneers.
The assembled three now headed down the broad avenue of Canal Street towards the Mississippi River, where they turned left and proceeded up Decatur Street toward Elysian Fields Avenue. Wishing to avoid riding on the cobblestones of the French Quarter, the oldest part of the city, the trio walked their bicycles along Decatur Street through the market district. To their right were the wharfs along the Mississippi River . . .