On 4 and 5 July 1892, the Ohio Division of the League of American Wheelmen
(LAW) held their twelfth annual meet in Dayton, Ohio. It was hosted, in part, by
the Dayton YMCA, of which Wilbur and Orville Wright were new members. Cyclists
came from not just Ohio, but neighboring states as well, to compete in dozens of
races for medals and trophies made of solid gold and silver. There were other
events as well, including a downtown parade, concerts, dinners, "smokers," and
"runs" to attractions around the Dayton area on "sandpapered" (smoothed and
improved) roads. Thousands attended.
The cover of the program for the 12th Annual
Meet of the Ohio Division of the League of American Wheelmen in Dayton, Ohio.
Certainly this monumental gathering of cyclists had some bearing on
Wilbur's decision to open a bicycle shop in the same year. It may have also had
some bearing on his choice of location. The Wright Cycle Exchange at 1005
West Third Street was on the route the cyclists took on their run to the Old
Soldiers' Home. At the time, the Home and its beautifully landscaped grounds
were a popular attraction in Dayton. Since we don't know exactly when Will hung
out his shingle, we don't know whether he did so to attract the hundreds of
cyclists whizzing up and down West Third Street or whether the sight of these
cyclists convinced him it was a good location for a cycling business. Whatever
the case, it's a good bet that the LAW meet jump-started his career as a bicycle
The Old Soldiers' Home as it was shown in the
LAW program. The Home was three miles west of Dayton on West Third Street.
The Big Dayton Bicycle Race