Thursday, 3 April 2008

The first gymnacyclidium for ladies and gentlemen

I was reading David Herlihy's book "bicycle" last night.

It is written from a U.S. perspective, so not the balance I would have preferred, but there is extensive coverage of developments in France and the UK, and it is nicely written and produced.

This poster comes from 1869 when a wave of Volicipede Rinks opened across north America, offering rental and training. I love the name. There is a contemporary newspaper article here, and some better pictures here.

The achievements of the early athletes is impressive. In the eighteen-seventies, on iron penny-farthings, without gears, pneumatic tyres, or even decent roads and brakes, people were covering ten miles in thirty-six minutes, fifty miles in under four hours, a hundred miles a day, London to John O'Groats (700 miles) in two weeks, and so on. They must have been tough.

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