The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 94. Swiftsure’s thoughts on his Manchester to Hastings to London ride (on his wife’s bike)

From The Clarion. 10 August 1895:

To sum up, let me say that such a little jaunt as the one I have slightly described is an education, such as all who have an inquiring mind can profitably undertake.

It is not expensive. Five shillings or six shillings a day is as much as one need spend.

A speed of ten miles an hour for eight or ten hours can be comfortably maintained provided one is in moderate training. A low gear (my wife’s ‘Bradbury’ is 55″ and an efficient brake make the going easy and certain. To scoot down the hills with feet up and hand on brake, is to feel the joy of living.*

The route is quite easy to find, signposts being abundant, and Dangle’s ‘white spots’ or milestones are often guideposts in themselves. But oh! how far apart they seem when one is tired!

Main roads can usually be distinguished by the telegraph or telephone wires running along them. In fact, to tour awheel beats any other mode of progression, and is a means of enjoying a holiday which can only be appreciated by those who are penned up in our large cities from year’s end to year’s end.

Next Time: ‘Sumptuary laws’ for Chicago cyclists

*Bikes were still of the fixed wheel kind – which only needed a front brake, hence the singular ‘brake’ in this sentence. According to the website ‘Bicycle History‘ the freewheel began to come in – first in Germany – just a few years later. Here’s the entry:

freewheel
1898
Germany
First major commercialization of the freewheel by Ernst Sachs. William Van Anden had obtained the first freewheel patent in 1869.

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