The more things change, the more they stay the same

A Birmingham, Alabama resident complains about a pair of cyclists from Pittsburgh touring through his town.

[They] should remember while traveling through the South not to leave their manners at home. Their skintight professional paraphernalia are an insult to every lady and gentlemen. It is hard to believe they would have entered any first-class dining room in Pittsburgh in such a costume.

The writer describes cyclists Frank Lenz and Charles Petticord and their ride through Birmingham in 1891. I’m currently reading The Lost Cyclist by David Herlih, a kind of sequel to his book Bicycle History. Lost tells the story of Lenz, who set out to circle the globe on the brand new safety bicycle. Lenz disappeared in a Kurdish enclave of the Ottoman Empire.

I’m only a few pages into Herliy’s latest book and I’m already feel immersed in late 19th century bike culture, and I’m amazed at how we have so much in common with our forebears over a century back. I’ll comment more but it’s a fascinating read.


  1. What about the way people harassed Draisine riders, as reported in Bicycle History. We were getting crap before we even had pedals.

  2. Oh that's the funny part, Jym. The old timers on their “high wheelers” scoffing at the inferiority of the safety bicycles the newcomers rode: “'There's more fun on the high wheeler. It's more difficult to learn and when you fall, you fall harder.' Sachtelben resisted the urge to snicker. '[He] had the audacity to tell us point-balnk that his machine was superior. It was amusing.'”

    The book is full of anecdotes like this of the different cyclist camps all proclaiming how much better they're style of cycling is better than any other. Just like today!

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