The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 86. The exploits of Mrs Walsh and Swiftsure’s thoughts thereon

We’ve reached 27 July 1895. Included in Swiftsure’s “Cycling Notes” that week was the following.

The ladies have tried, with varying success, for many years past to compete with the male kind in all branches of athletics. We have seen them trying their strength on the cricket and football fields only to arouse the laughter of the spectators at their efforts. But it has remained for cycling to place them in a position to possibly emulate the deeds of some male riders. For instance we read that a certain Mrs Walsh, a Northern lady rider, has covered 100 miles in 7 hr. 55 min. and would have done considerably better but for several punctures and unfavourable weather.

I am just wondering if she repaired the punctures herself.

The first fifty miles were said to have been covered in just over three hours, which is only about an hour longer than the record.

Anyway, it is a remarkable ride and demonstrates the ability of the fair sex to stay.

By “stay” I don’t mean “to wear corsets” but “to stay the course”. No, that won’t do; to possess staying power”. Confound it, that’s not the expression either; “to possess endurance”. That’s what I mean.

Apart from that question, however, there isn’t a doubt that a female has just the right qualities suitable for riding the bicycle.

A woman’s nerves are certainly a drawback at the beginning; but a little pluck will certainly bring those under control.

Speaking to a certain physician, who is an authority on medical matters pertaining to women, I put the question whether there was anything in the constitution of a woman which could make cycling injurious to her, and he replied that so long as the woman did not over-fatigue herself there was no organ of the body which could be injured by it. On the other hand it was one of the most healthful exercises which a woman could have, always provided it was used in moderation. So, after all, it would perhaps be wiser if ladies did not attempt to excel the feat of Mrs Walsh. Let them use the wheel as an exercise, and not in the spirit of emulation; and many who now think it unwomanly to ride a bicycle may be won over to follow their example.

Next time – A “good tale” about the general election


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