Last night I had the pleasure of viewing a local historical bicycle documentary on our local cable channel. The documentary was bout bicycling in the Denver area from the mid to late 1800's to the present. For those interested, it is on DC8 (Comcast) and possibly channel 22?? according to the following schedule:
Victorian Bicycles (51:00)
MWF, at 12.37am, 4.37am, 8.37am, 12.37pm, 4.37pm, 6.37pm, 10.37pm
STRS, at 2.37am, 6.37am, 8.37am, 12.37pm, 2.37pm, 6.37pm, 10.37pm
Anyway, it had lots of historical pictures. A few things I learned:
1. In the early 1900's, (before the auto) bicycling was a tremendous social activity, with the rich and socially correct getting into bicycling, and spending lots of money. There were huge bicycle "clubs", with their own buildings with sleeping quarters, billiard rooms, fancy eating, etc.
2. Bicycling was quoted by Susan B Anthony as being one of the major factors in women's liberation, giving ladies a chance to do something equal to men. But they wore long heavy dresses, until finally wearing pantaloons.
3. The bicycles were fixed gear, perhaps with "spoon" tire brakes. They had wooden rims, and it was a while until pneumatic tires were available.
4. Centuries and races were common, with railroads even providing spectators with moving platforms as the racers raced along the railroad right of way. One lady, after recovering from scarlet fever, and against doctors orders, started bicycling, and eventually got to doing a century a day for 20 days on a fixed bike with wooden rims over dirt roads.
5. There was even a bike path (paid for by the state legislature) from downtown Denver to Palmer Lake, 52 miles one way, which had resting houses along the way. This was a common century trip. Of course, the auto did away with that. Guess what they are trying to do today - you guessed it - they are building a bike path from downtown Denver to Palmer Lake!
Anyway, it was a lot of fun!