My uncle, Hans Jakob Olsen, was probably
the first man in Norway that made bicycles. He was born in 1832
on the farm named Einstabøvold, Valestrand, Sunnhordaland.
He was trained as a mechanic and lived in Stavanger where he built
all types of farm machinery, such as fanning mills, plows, hand
machinery for threshing. Modern for those days. In the beginning
of the 1870's he got the idea that he wanted to experiment with
bicycles, having heard about them being made in other countries.
The bicycle he made consisted of two high wooden wheels banded with
iron, pedals without brakes, a wooden seat with leader covering,
In 1874 the post road from Haugesund
to Tittelsnes was finished. The next summer Uncle wanted to visit
the relatives in Sunnhordaland. He took the steamship to Haugesund
where he went ashore, and riding his bicycle took the road north
through Sveio. In a sharp turn in the road just before he reached
the Haukås farm, he nearly ran over a man who came from the
flourmill with a sack of flour on his back. The sack got a good
push and the man nearly fell down. Uncle was going fast, and when
he saw the man was not hurt he went on his way, and a short time
later arrived at Haukås farm where his sister lived. When
he entered the house, the maid told him his sister had gone to a
neighbor on an errand, but was expected home soon. He went in and
rested on the sofa. In a little while his sister came in the kitchen
laughing, and asked the maid if they had company. She said, "Yes,
your brother came." My aunt said, "I thought so. I met
old Lars Haukås. He had just come from the mill, and he told
me he had nearly been run over by the Evil One himself in the bend
in the road. He rode on a machine such as no one had seen before.
It had two wheels, one behind the other. His feet went like drumsticks,
and the sparks were like a streak of fire stretching behind him,
and he went so fast that anything flying could not catch him."
Thus the terrorized one had finished the story. My aunt said, "I
better go in, I think my brother is here. He makes machines like
that. I have not seen one, but the description fits."
It was unbelievable that anyone could
ride on two wheels. It was the talk of the town for a long time
that Lars Haukås had met the Evil One riding on two wheels.
The day after his visit to the Haukås farm, uncle rode northward,
and told about his experience. He sold his bicycle to a neighbor
boy, Erik Knutsen, for 12 specie dollars, and continued his trip
by steamship inland among the fjords.
When Erik Knutsen went to sea, and
later to America, he sold the bicycle to Mr. Førde who used
the bicycle for transport the mail between Valevåg and Førde
in Sveio. Erik died a few years ago, as a farmer near Norway Lake,
Minnesota. Mr. Førde had the bicycle put in the museum on
Stord Island where it is now.
The bicycle was built by Hans Jacob
Olsen in the beginning 1870's
It is is the museum on Stord Island, Norway.
George Thomsen from "Saga from Western Norway"
Carolyn Thomsen Mutchler
With written permission from Carolyn Thomsen Mutchler
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