When the word, “bicycle,” first appeared in print, it
was in an article in the English newspaper, “The Daily
News.” The writer spelled its variations as, ‘trysicles’
and ‘bysicles.’ This was in 1868. To put this into time
sequence and add perspective, the first car was invented
in 1886. Bicycles were around only 18 years longer. This
is rather hard to believe!
Original bicycles were totally different looking and the
foot-powered bikes were somewhat like hobby horses.
Their nickname, coming from the odd word combination
using a hobby horse, was “Dandy horse.”
In 1897, magazines advertising for ointments to ease
aches and pains, included women in these loose items of
clothing. They looked like “pantaloons” or as my friend,
Luanne suggested, “bloomers.” These women wore their hair
swept up into buns, with a hat held onto their hair, using
hat pins. The smaller hat, could have been replaced with a
wider brim, with netting to tie under the women’s chins.
The women, in the old fashioned ad, were preparing to ride
To still look like a ‘lady,’ this clothing design makes
me smile. It accommodated women’s ‘right’ to ride bikes.
They could disembark from their bike, having the look of
wearing a longer skirt.
An author of a recent book, Thomas Ambrose, includes a
long passage about the impact of bicycles on women’s
equality. Here is part of that passage in the quotation
about women’s bicycling:
“As women got ideas that they wanted more social liberty,
this” (the fact that cars were expensive and they were
not able to purchase them) “became irksome. The coming
of the bicycle gave women freedom…the lady’s bicycle
is probably an emblem of emancipation.”
“The History of Cycling in Fifty Bikes,” (224 pp.),
by Irish author, Tom Ambrose. He rode bikes as a boy
in the 50’s and 60’s. Now, currently, as a grandfather
rides a ‘sporting amateur’s bike.’
When people while courting sometimes would say,
“Do you want to go for a drive? (or road trip?)”
this would sometimes include a stop at “Lover’s
Lane” before going home. If one were not able to
afford a car, you could travel with a bicycle with
your sweetheart. Another choice, you could have a
bicycle built for two, called a ‘tandem bike.’
The song with the chorus of “Daisy, Daisy, tell
me your answer true…” originally contains the
words, ‘bicycle built for two.’ It was written
in 1892 by Harry Dacre.
After all, you could still stop to have a picnic
or have a romantic moment under a tree.
There is a recent trend of using bikes to travel
as families, with the adults in the lead and they
have attached a wagon with a netted canopy-sort of
thing. The children are safely strapped down inside.
These are called, “cargo bikes.” I sometimes wonder
how those children feel, as they look out upon the
world, whisking briskly past them. Do they have any
focus to their views on nature, if the parents’ travel
route is on a bike path in a park? Do the children
have any thoughts on the lack of clarity of their
scenery? Is it rather blurry, once the bikes start
going down the paths quickly. Maybe they love the way
it feels going ‘fast’ through life?
In the 1960’s and 70’s, the new trend then, was to be
more conscious of the environment. The gas prices then
and other areas of society were soaring (just imagine
if we could go back to what the rising prices were
then! Smile!) I can picture someone who was a hippie
then, saying ‘ride on’ instead of ‘right on!’
Anyway, being aware of the natural resources brought
about the movement to cycle to work.
In some big cities, they started adding a cycling
lane. Of course, in Eastern countries, this was an
older pattern, from rickshaws to bicycling in China
and India, along with other countries whose cities
were getting engorged with traffic jams.
The low cost and community sense of bikes, also was
apparent while I was growing up. There were more
‘fix-it’ or bicycle repair stores around back then.
In communes, if one weren’t walking or riding a horse,
you may have a bicycle to get from the country into
Racing bicycles became popular and the biggest race
of this sort, was the Tour de France competition. This
came about in 1903.
Some different, unusual advancements in the bicycling
world that are notable are:
The Lucas bike lamp, an early oil lamp, made night time
Inflatable tire, thanks to John B. Dunlop’s invention.
Wire spokes, kudos to James Stanley’s creative usage.
In the Viet Nam war era, North Viet Nam bikes were
painted in camouflage, allowing many dangerous and
silent war events of bombs and shootings to occur.
Gears, derailers, carbon filters and more improvements
have been made over the years.
There was a Spring in the past eight years, while I
have been single when I dated a man, casually. After
we had been together a year, I had a moment where I
visualized the movie with Tom Crew, Renee Zewelleger
and Cuba Gooding. No, it was not, “Show me the money!”
It was that romantic line delivered by Renee Z. to
“You had me at, ‘Hello.'”
The man I was dating said,
“I would like to buy you a bicycle and keep it in my
garage for us to ride in different Central Ohio Metro
The line redone could have been, “You had me at buying
me a bike!”
That was ‘as good as it gets!’ I really don’t need a
sparkling diamond ring nor a proposal!
It meant something, it meant some future good times.
We bought a nice red “cruising bicycle” with red and
white Hawaiian pattern. It was a reasonably priced
Schwinn bike. It had a bell! It had a light! I was so
thrilled! I had called my brother, Rich, for some
shopping input, since he is a triathlon racer and
uses a racing bike for one of the ‘legs’ of those
races. He told me the three speed bike, with hand
brakes, would be an ‘easy adjustment’ for me.
We went on a short bike ride that weekend. I headed
home, ready to call my best friend (or two) to brag
that I finally had reached a sort of commitment with
The following weekend, I headed over on a sunny day,
anticipating a wonderful afternoon of riding our bikes
together. That just seemed, to me, one of the most fun
and romantic pastimes ever!
When we opened this man’s garage, he was pulling his
bike off its hooks on the wall, while I approached my
bike which was leaning against the wall. I dragged it
out into the sunshine. It was hard to roll. Oh no!
Both tires were flat. While the man looked up the
weight of the tires and got his air pump out, I had
a weird sense of doom. I know, you will call it some
kind of intuition. I was starting to babble, showing
frustration. I was flabbergasted:
“How could this have happened in one short week?”
I verbalized my fears:
“Is this a sign or something?”
I could not stop my heart from sinking, as I sat out
in the yard, looking up at the bright blue sky and
pondering the significance.
I heard what sounded like a gun shot. It was the stupid
inner tube exploding inside the tire. That sinking
feeling sunk more. He had simply over-inflated it.
I don’t know why I was being so anxious, but I was!
I tried to breathe deeply, tried to allow calm to fill
When he emerged from the garage, he had ‘accidentally’
exploded BOTH inner tubes. I don’t know why, but I
realized this may have been on purpose. I reflected
back upon the purchase the past weekend, how he had
exclaimed. as we passed a park,
“That is the park I used to ride all the time with
You may think I am crazy, but when he asked me, note
that he did not tell me,
“Do you want to take the bike back and get another one?
We could say we didn’t notice that the bike’s tires
I noticed that he did not say,
“Let’s go buy new inner tubes.”
I sighed and replied,
“Just take the bike back.”
He looked at me,
“Are you sure, Robin?”
He didn’t argue or try to talk me back into this
I then knew that the bike represented ‘too much
commitment.’ The relationship went downhill after
that. Weeks later, he was back with his ex, probably
riding those same paths with her.
When I talk about a bucket list, plans to travel far
and wide. I would be happy to have a bike and a man to
ride, here in Ohio. This is not that much to ask for!
I have many fond memories of bike rides with friends,
brothers, Science Club and loved ones. I hope that I
did not detract from the positive opinion I have about
This Spring and Summer, if you have a bicycle, get it
fixed up and ready to go on a marvelous ride! There
are many reasons, to enjoy scenery, move up and down
hills, pump your legs for exercise and for the special
way it feels to be on a bike! Some people who feel
hiking is overwhelming or hard on their feet, will
enjoy getting on a bicycle. It is still a rather
reasonable purchase, comparatively speaking, to
other sports equipment.
Don’t worry, it is not like you will have forgotten
how to ride!
It is like that old adage, “Get right back on that
horse and ride it.”
By the way, I think that would be an equally fun way
to travel around parks that accommodate horses. But,
what I really meant to say is,
“Get your bike out and enjoy the ride!
… and don’t forget your bike helmet!”