Byron D. Bent

From Wooljersey

24 May 1857 – 9 April 1917


"An 'outing on a bicycle! That had always been my ambition; and this summer I determined to gratify my long-cherished desire," said B. D. Bent of the Bay City Wheelmen last night. "For once, at least," he continued, "the best-laid plans of man did not go wrong, and I have just returned from a 200-mile ride over one of the most picturesque portions of the State. Starting by an early train about 10 days ago I reached the quiet little town of Calistoga about 11 o'clock A. M. After an hour's delay for dinner my long trip on the wheel really began. The first stage of the journey was the worst. The St. Helena Mountain loomed up before me, and after pushing my wheel until tired nature craved relief I succumbed to the inevitable and dismounted. Then came a long and weary climb, which, however, was rendered endurable and even pleasant at times by a grand panorama of hills, vales and wooded canyons. At last the summit was reached and then all my weariness was forgotten in the thrill of excitement which I experienced during the splendid coast to Middleton, having beaten the time of the stage from Calistoga. After a short rest I went on to Harbin Springs, where I retired and slept as only a worn-out wheelman can.


"The second day's run was the shortest on my trip. In the morning I rode back to Middleton, where I spent over an hour participating in the joy of the people so plainly exhibited on the arrival of the stages bringing visitors from the outside world. The next hour and a half was devoted to spinning over a good road to Anderson's Springs, where I took a long rest, met some jolly good people and enjoyed another good night's sleep.

"Early on the morning of the third day I started for Seigler, which I reached before nightfall, stopping at Adams and Howard on the way.

"The fourth day was one long to be remembered, the route leading me by way of Kelseyville and Soda Bay to Seaport through the beautiful valley bordering Clear Lake. The next day was devoted to aquatic pleasure. Leaving my cushion-tired Swift in care of a party of friends I sailed down to Soda Bay and back again after lunch.

"My sixth day's journey was a long one, but in every respect delightful. I made the whole distance to Ukiah and Vichy Springs, the intermediate stopping places being Upper Lake, Saratoga Springs and Blue Lake. The next morning I rode from Vichy back to Ukiah, where I took advantage of a convenient train which carried me to Hopland. After a short run out to Duncan Springs I again did the train act, and took life easy until Cloverdale was reached, arriving at 2:30 P. M. and starting immediately for the Geysers. Here's where I made the mistake. I should have put the day in on the wheel, the roads being good, and remained over night at Cloverdale. Then the ride to the Geysers could have been made in the cool morning hours and not in the heat of the day, as was the case. That sultry afternoon will not soon be forgotten. The thermometer was surely geared above 100.

"The Geysers were reached at 6:30 P. M. and I concluded to remain there over Sunday. Profiting by my Saturday's experience I started out at 4 A. M. on Monday, passing through Pine Flat, noted for its fine quality of root beer, and on to Calistoga, the place of beginning.

"During my nine days' absence I had covered about 200 miles, seen much of four counties and gained an intimate knowledge of human nature in some of its peculiar phases. Everywhere I was well received and treated with great hospitality after the ice had once been broken. But in a few places, where knickabockers were a novelty, the ice seemed rather thick and several hours were required to complete the thawing out process. It was at these places where I was an object of country curiosity that I felt the need of a wheeling companion more than I did along the road."

Other wheelmen will be interested in the facts that Mr. Bent carried no baggage save a complete change of clothing strapped to the wheel, and that he spent nine days at the springs, the total cost of his trip being less than $30. And it was not all hard work either. There was hunting, fishing, boating, bathing, music, mind-reading seances and possibly, though this is not admitted, a quiet flirtation or two. The moral of which, addressed to all overworked city men, is learn to ride a bicycle and go thou and do likewise.

CHAT ABOUT THE CYCLE. - The San Francisco Call, 08 Aug 1892

B. D. Bent, the photographer of the Bay Citys, started on a three days' trip to Santa Cruz yesterday, and is expected to return with some select views to add to the club's album.

CYCLING CIRCLES. - The San Francisco Call, 21 May 1894

B. D. Bent has under way a photographic album which will record all of the runs made by the Bay City Wheelmen in recent years. He has been collecting old photographs and making new ones, and, when bis album is completed, will have a complete record for years.


A party of Camera Club Cyclists will start to-morrow morning for a ten days' trip through Lake County. Prominent among them are Charles A. Adams, president of the club; J. J. B. Argenti, professor of botany, California College of Pharmacy; Byron D. Bent and H. C. Owens, all well-known amateur photographers. Never before has such a party visited this garden spot of California on wheels, and it is beyond question that they will bring back with them some splendid views taken along the route, as they are experienced artists and carry the latest and most improved cameras. These pictures will be made into slides, which are sent around the world to other camera clubs, exchanges being continually made between these organizations. It might be mentioned that the California Camera Club is the only one in the world having an active cycling annex. It is also the only club giving monthly exhibitions. The cycling annex is a feature of the club, and some of the finest California scenic views have been made since its inception through the opportunity the wheel affords the artists to travel.

When it was decided to make this trip into Lake County, Mr. Bent, who was the leading spirit in the movement, agreed to prepare an itinerary of the trip, showing the route to be traveled, distances traversed daily and points of interest visited. This he has done, and as it is an excellent guide for any party desiring to visit Lake County on wheels it is here published:

THE WHEELMEN - The Camera Club Cyclists Will Tour Through Lake County - The San Francisco Call, 29 Jun 1895

President Charles Albert Adams, Captain J. J. B. Argenti, Byron D. Bent and H. C. Owens, of the Camera Club Cyclists, have returned from their tour through Lake County. These gentlemen made the trip not only with a desire for the present enjoyment, but with a view of ultimately presenting a narrative of the trip to the members of the California Camera Club in the form of an illustrated lecture, and the notes made by them are so copious that not only will they prove of interest to the members of the club when elaborated and illustrated with the many views secured, but are of especial value to wheelmen who may contemplate a two weeks' tour on the wheel.

In addition to the usual baggage carried by wheelmen upon such a tour, each member of the party carried in knapsack fashion strapped over the shoulders a compact camera. As they are experts in its use, it is needless to say that the many views they secured are perfect and will prove of great interest when the illustrated lecture is delivered before the Camera Club.

The total time consumed in making the trip was fourteen days and the total expense to each member of the party (including railway fares) was $25 40.

The Wheelmen. - The San Francisco Call, 20 Jul 1895


THE group of bloomer girls shown in the above engraving are all members of the ladies' branch of the Liberty Cycling Club, and all ride the Liberty bicycle. They are a happy-looking lot and may be seen most any pleasant Sunday on the Park roads.

The WASP (Jan.-Dec. 1895)

From Women & Bicycles, Historical Essay, by Laura Fraser