Cross country "bikepacking at 60”


The bicycle was invented about 1818 in Europe.

Bikes start making their appearance in Jackson County, Indiana, in the late 1800s.

The Brownstown Banner reported that John O’Mara of Brownstown purchased a baby carriage to connect to his bicycle “whenever he wishes to give his baby a ride” in 1892. A year later, Elmer Orvis rode his “pneumatic tire bicycle” from Seymour to Brownstown in about one and a half hours.

In May 1895, bikes had become so common that they were scaring horses and disrupting rural Jackson County peace.

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According to a Page 1 Honeytown Hummings story in the May 9, 1895, edition of the Banner, Honeytown had issued a “conditional prohibitory proclamation” stating that “whoever shall be found riding astride of two wheels, known as a bicycle … without sending a suitable person 50 yards in advance to warn persons of the coming, shall be fined in any sum that the Mayor of the town thinks proper.”

When I was about 11 years old, I ran an Indianapolis News newspaper route in Brownstown, delivering the papers on my bike in the afternoon after school. About a year later, I was delivering the Indianapolis Star every morning on my bike before school. When the Star offered a prize of a trip to Orlando, Florida, for the most new subscriptions, my mom registered enough new subscribers for me to win. The trip to pre-Disney World Orlando with a few dozen other paper boys from across the state inspired my love affair with Florida.

Some 48 years later, to commemorate my 60th birthday, I decided to ride a bike 600 miles from Panama City Beach to Fruitland Park, Florida and back. I am hoping to accomplish between 35 and 50 miles a day on back roads, stopping at little towns and parks along the way. I want to get to know the people, history and culture of rural Florida, and chronicle the experience.

Craig Davis, who was born in Seymour and graduated from Brownstown Central, currently lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and works for a U.S. government contractor on school-based violence prevention. He is the author of “The Middle East for Dummies” and is conducting research for a genealogy and social history book in Kurtz and Freetown.

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