Frank J. Waller

From Wooljersey

Frank J. Waller 1859/10/? - 1937/05/14 see also


the Flying Dutchman


At the twenty-five mile road race of the Alameda Bicycle Club, held on the San Leandro triangle on Decoration day, [May 30th] the records for California, and, in fact, for the United States, to use a common expression, just naturally were "not in it.” It had rained early in the morning, but notwithstanding the bad condition of the roads some 200 wheelmen met, and at about 10:45 o'clock the first start was made. The men got off in good style, running toward Hayward on the straight road, and turning to the right. At the end of the first lap the first starter, Williams, Alameda Bicycle Club, crossed the line first. The second lap saw Foster, Alameda Bicycle Club, traveling in splendid form first. This position he maintained to the finish, crossing the line in 1h., 25m. and 25s. Osen [not sure whether Oscar or George] of the Garden City Wheelmen of San Jose pushed Foster hard here, almost lapping his rear wheel. This was a very pretty finish. Waller of the Oaklands came next, and so on to the end. The scratch men, Stoddard, Bay City Wheelmen, and Ives, Alameda Bicycle Club, made a good tussle, Ives getting the place about thirty feet in front of Stoddard. Waller got the time prize on a cushion-tire safety in 1h., 24m, and 57s., the best previous one being 1h. 26m. and a fraction.


Waller, the winner of the time medal, it is also claimed, is a professional racer. This may make it interesting.


About the hardest ride in this section of country is that from this city to the top of Mount Hamilton, twenty-eight miles beyond San Jose. Frank Waller accomplished this ride upon one of the large cushion-tired victor safeties last Sunday morning, a distance of 144 miles for the round trip, in the remarkable time of thirteen hours and ten minutes. Waller rode his wheel the entire distance, both up and down the mountain, and came into Oakland but little the worse for the run. Several Oakland men went by train to San Jose with the intention of racing him back to this city, but were unable to keep in the lead of this redoubtable rider even upon the return trip.

Frank Waller sets the 25-mile record, rides from Oakland to top of Mount Hamilton and back - June, 1891

As was anticipated in this column last week, Frank Waller, “The Flying Dutchman," who started at 6 o'clock Friday evening to beat the world's 24-hour record, succeeded in accomplishing his task. He is a member of the Acme Club of Oakland, and though he has never won a race, his staying powers have been generally recognized as unexcelled. The new track of the Alameda Bicycle and Athletic Club, on which he accomplished his great feat, was built on the lines of the famous Hern Hill course in England, on which Holbein made the previous world's record of 361 miles and 1446 yards.

When the Alameda track becomes a little more firmly set it will probably be the fastest on earth. Waller made only a few short stops for rest and refreshment, and finished in good condition. The time was taken by Eugene Van Court, G. F. Neece and H. Snow. Dr. Gourley was judge, and the scorers were Charles Ballentine, Charles Addington and A. A. Boughton. The pace was made at intervals by Grant Bell, G. A. Faulkner, W. C. Angell, G. F. Neece, Stoddard of the Bay Citys, and Walter Foster, who returned from Monterey just in time to accompany Waller on his last mile.

Waller's record, which is now that of the world, is 363 miles and 1590 yards, accomplished in a little less than 24 hours, the pistol-shot signaling him to stop having been fired a few seconds too soon. The gritty rider also succeeded in lowering all Pacific Coast records over five miles. The time for the first 10 miles was 30 minutes 46 1/2 seconds; in one hour he rode 19 miles and 500 yards; 25 miles were made in 1 hour 18 minutes 30 seconds and 50 miles in 2 hours 47 minutes 30 seconds. The champion of both hemispheres rode a 30-inch pneumatic geared to 67. Waller's oft-repeated story of how he rode every inch of the way from this city to the top of Mount Hamilton and return will doubtless find believers now. He is a tall, gaunt, awkward German, with beetling eyebrows, awkward of gait and speech, yet withal, possessed of muscles of iron and an indomitable determination to accomplish whatever he undertakes. He has been a wheelman only about 18 months.

CHAT ABOUT THE CYCLE. - A Brief Sketch of the Garden City Cyclers. - Frank Waller Makes a New World's Record. - The Coming Century Run - Straight Spokes. - The San Francisco Call, Jun 13, 1892


Full Story of Waller's Wonderful Ride in California - Also Broke the Three Hundred Mile Record - Dieted on Doughnuts - Was the Timing Reliable

Last week THE BEARINGS told that Frank Waller, of the Acme Bicycle Club, of Oakland, Cal., rode 363 miles, 1.590 yards in twenty-four hours, on the new track of the Alameda Bicycle Club, at Alameda, thus breaking Holbein's record of 361 miles, 1,446 yards.

The day was June 10, not June 11. The start was made at six p. m.

Grant Bell, five-mile state champion, paced for the first eight miles. Waller applied himself diligently to his work, riding ten miles in 30:46 1/2; nineteen miles, 500 yards in the hour; 100 miles in 5:45:00.

Here he made his first dismount and upon going to work experienced his first and only difficulty, an inability to perspire and a slight stiffness due to poor attention, as acknowledged by those having him in charge. Fortunately the difficulty was quickly overcome and from that on to the finish he made no complaint as to his condition. [Sounds like not enough water. See What did bicycle riders in the 1890s drink? Not much. And weird things.]

Between midnight on Friday and six o'clock Saturday morning, he had but two pace-makers, one of these being A. A. Bouton, who paced every mile but ten of the distance covered during that time. Waller's eyes became very sore from fine dust blown from the track, for be it remembered no special preparation of the same had been made. A pair of large goggles were obtained and attendants engaged to constantly sprinkle the track, thus obviating further trouble from this source.

Those who had kindly volunteered to pace and who had done so for the twelve hours now covered, were with few exceptions called away either to business or to rest; hence from six o'clock Saturday morning to noon of the same day was, as Waller afterward remarked, "the most trying part of the work." The wheelmen who strolled into the grounds were

Pressed into Service as Pace-Makers,

going varying distances according to their ability, some riding very rapidly while others had to be continually urged on.

Waller manfully kept to his work, only asking that the timers "sing out" the time of each lap, that he might know what he was doing. All afternoon, with the best pace makers, he kept up a surprisingly even pace doing a little less than sixteen miles an hour. The slowest lap (quarter-mile) noted by THE BEARINGS man was one in sixty-two seconds, when, having called for a wet sponge, he was using it freely. Waller dismounted at 3:35 p. m, for a few moments, having then 331 miles to his credit. Upon remounting, the first alcoholic stimulant, in the form of ale, was given him. He was becoming saddle sore and riding out of the saddle as much as possible.

The Ale Affected his Head

and the position he assumed about half an hour before the close made the course of the wheel somewhat erratic, yet withal he was particularly good-natured and kept facetiously asking, "How many more hours?" in reply to the time called out by the timers. All afternoon the crowd had been gradually increasing, there being at least 200 present at the finish. Under the stimulating effect of the cheering crowd, Waller bent to his work and when he did 361 miles 1,446 yards - Holbein's record

a Mighty Cheer Went up.

Waller increased his pace and the last mile was finished surprisingly strong, being made in about three minutes, in company with a well-known mile sprinter. The time of two of these laps as noted by your correspondent was :43 and :45. He was still riding at this pace when the pistol was fired ten seconds before six p. m, because of an excited outsider who, looking over the timer's shoulder, shouted "fire" when the hour was not completed.

Waller had 363 miles 1950 (1590?-ED.) yards to his credit. He was lifted upon the shoulders of two of his fellow club men and carried to the club house amidst the cheers of the crowd and the hand-shaking of his friends. He was immediately taken to the Hamman baths, [Probably Piedmont Baths, see this oaklandwiki page about it.] where he slept all night and was around as usual next day. Waller's ride is all the more remarkable considering that it was made with only eight days preparatory work; that he had no trained pace-makers; and that he was handled by men who, though earnest and willing, had had no previous experience in work of this kind. His

Diet Consisted of Doughnuts,

apples, bananas, beef tea, tea, ginger ale and malt ale in the last few hours.

Doughnuts may seem a strange article to feed a man on, but when Waller made his appearance at the track he had a large paper of the well known "sinkers." His handlers tried to persuade him not to use them but he was determined to do so. When he got to work the word was passed among those assembled to eat them up and when, later on, Waller called for them there were none. It is unnecessary to state that somebody was mad and there was no peace until more were purchased and his wants supplied.

All those who assisted are deserving of credit and more than passing mention must be made of Mr. A. A. Bouton, who carried the affair to so successful a conclusion. He was ably seconded by Mr. Geo. F. Neece. Both are Waller's fellow club men.

The pace-makers were: Geo. F. Neece, Grant Bell, G. A. Faulkner, W. C. Angell, Mr. Morrill, Mr. Stoddart, H. A. Bouton, A. L. Pickard, Jesse Ives, Mr. Sleuter; judge, Dr. Gourley; scorers, Chas. Addington, Chas, Ballentine, A. A. Bouton; official timer, Eugene Van Court; assistant timers, H. Snow, G. F. Neece.

The mount was a Phoenix, weight 37 1-2 pounds, 30-inch wheels, geared to 67 inches, fitted with Thomas tires. The wheel gave excellent satisfaction.

Tabulated Account of Time and Distance.
5 miles 15:46 12:16 2-5 Osmond (Eng.)
10 " 30:46 24:50 1-5 " "
12 " 37:12 1/2 29:53 4-5 " "
15 " 45:40 37:33 " "
20 " 1:02:15 50:22 4-5 " "
25 " 1:18:30 1:05:55 2-5 Ede "
40 " 2:12:00 1:47:22 " "
50 " 2:47:50 2:17:01 4-5 " "
60 " 3:21:00 2:49:09 1-5 " "
100 " 5:45:00 5:30:12 2-5 Newland "
200 " 12:30:00 12:26:56 4-5 Bates "
300 " 19:30:55* 19:32:14 1-5 " "
350 " 23:17:35 2-5 Holbein "
363 miles, 1,590 yards in twenty-four hours, less ten seconds*
  • World's record.

He made nine dismounts. the longest time off being fifteen minutes, when his clothes were changed. His other stops were from three minutes to eight minutes long. [Holbein rested about thirty minutes in all, Waller ninety minutes.-ED.]


Frank Waller is a native of Munich, Bavaria, is thirty-two years old, weighs 157 pounds, and is 5 feet 10 inches in height. He came to the United States nine years ago, locating first in Omaha. His attention was first called to the wheel at this place through the exhibition of well known professionals. Two years ago he moved to Oakland and there took to wheeling. He devoted his time, when not at his trade (laying cement sidewalks) to riding and did his first prominent ride last year, when he won the time medal in the twenty-five mile road race, on the San Leandro triangle, in 1:24:50. In the same year he rode from the City Hall, in Oakland, to the Lick Observatory, on the summit of Mount Hamilton, and return, a distance of 140 miles, in 13:10:00. The climb to the summit of the mountain (4,209 feet) is twenty-eight miles. He has also won a mile (safety) in 2:55 and a mile (ordinary) in 3:02, on a trotting track. His trial heats at Alameda have been done in 2:44.

Waller is a hardy, muscular fellow, carrying no spare flesh, is of temperate habits, genial disposition and possessed of indomitable perseverance. He is not a grand-stand rider, his forte being a steady rapid pace rather than spurting, and he has always done better against time than in competition. A. A. Bouton thinks that he is capable of doing fifteen miles better, while Waller has his eye on the 400 miles mark. With proper handling and favorable conditions, he will come very near it.

[It appears that one of the timers of this great ride also acted as a pace-maker. If so, the record is not valid. - ED.]

THAT TWENTY FOUR HOUR RECORD - Bearings, The Cycling Authority of America, June 24, 1892


The Athletic German Shows the Los Angeles People What He Can Do.

Los Angeles, July 4. — In the bicycle road race from this city to Santa Monica to-day, the gold medal was won by Frank Waller of the Acme Club of Oakland. He covered the distance, 18 1/4 miles, in 1 hour 2 minutes 28 seconds. Cromwell of Los Angeles was second, in 1 hour 2 minutes 37 2-5 seconds.

San Francisco Call, Volume 72, Number 35, 5 July 1892 - Bicycle Races in Various Parts of the State

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