With warm weather here and people enjoying the sunshine , it’s easy to tell that the summer sport season has arrived with the weather. The rivers and lakes are filled with people kayaking and canoeing, the fields and parks are filled with people playing football, field hockey and nearly everything, and, of course, the pavements and parks and fields and mountains and, well, everywhere, are seen with bicycles covering them Not only are people using bicycles, but people everywhere are racing bicycles. Unsurprisingly, racing of bikes has been around for almost as long as there have been bicycles. What could be a little more surprising is the fact that bicycle racing has been around longer than the actual bicycles themselves!
The earliest bicycles, weren’t bicycles as we know then, but rather velocipedes, meaning speed feet from he Greek. These two-wheeled machines had a primitive saddle and handlebars, but no pedals. The rider’s feet touched the ground and they propelled themselves by kicking the pavement. But as these were machines that could take people quicker than they could run it’s natural that people started having races. The races carried on for years before the bicycle developed to the form we know.
By the late 1800s, the first bicycles with a familiar form were developed. This was after nearly a hundred years of peace, coming after the Napoleonic Wars, and there was a massive concentration on leisure pursuits, to even a self-indulgent level. In the gentlemen’s clubs of London, people would be massive fortunes—even country estates, yachts, and villas—on the outcome of these more-often-than-not informal races. With decidedly more caution, races today are still a source of tremendous fun for gamblers and often draw huge audience—just consider the worldwide popularity of the world famous Tour d’France.
Perhaps one of the most exciting times in the history of bicycling could easily have been this golden age of cycling. The bikes were often known by the name of ordinaries but by our standards today no much was ordinary about these machines. The front wheel was very much larger than the back, allowing for tremendous speed, but decreased stability. That made races fun to watch and a danger to participate in.
In the mid 1890s however the size of the wheels started to balance out and the pedals that had hitherto been connected directly to the front wheels of the bike, were located directly under the saddle and connected to a drive chain that gave an increased control and stability for the user.
Since then the bike has only developed in the production and technology but little has changed in design and today, like in the 1800s, the bicycle have become a stable of the summer sports scene.