The most important aspect of any culture is the coming together of like minded people to share in the experience of their enthusiasm. At the beginning of the 20th century, in the first days of a burgeoning new motorcycle industry the earliest fanatics began to band together, forming America's first motorcycle clubs. These first clubs began organizing events around their beloved machines, often times consisting of long-distance tours of their area. Naturally those first country tours grew into friendly competitions, and grew still into sanctioned endurance runs. At this time the growing pangs of the industry were centered around efficient engineering, top speed had not yet become top priority and manufacturers were still focused on improving and advertising their machine's reliability and hardiness. As such many of America's first motorcycle races were points-based, long-distance reliability runs where riders would spend days in the saddle and were responsible for any and all necessary repairs to their machines.

On July 6th, 1908 under the auspices of the western district of the FAM twenty men mounted their motorcycles for a 1,200 mile reliability run from New York to Chicago. Over 9 days the men piloted their machines over a multitude of crude American road surfaces, including sand, gravel, gouged mud, and sticky clay. Manufacturers keen on converting success in such endeavors into sales figures entered teams to compete for points. Indian, Merkel, Thor, Reading Standard, and Excelsior all fielded teams, and in typical fashion for the time period it was Indian who came out the victor. The only team to post perfect scores, the Indian boys George Holden, Bert Barrows, and Stanley Kellogg (who was the only rider entered on a twin cylinder machine) happily took the Examiner Cup back to Springfield. Worn down, beaten, and battered the men were greeted by throngs of cheering people lining the streets as they rolled into Chicago on July 15th. Of the 20 entrants 17 completed the journey with points, only the 3 member Light team failed to finish due to significant mechanical failures. It is said that the toughest 166 miles of the entire route, the leg between Cleveland and Wauseon proved to be the gauntlet where many teams lost their perfect scores. This photo, taken in Wauseon after that challenging leg captures a handful of the exhausted yet enthusiastic competitors near the end of their journey.

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