Pennyfarthing-1886

Biking and bicycles

Although the term bicycle was coined in France in the 1860s, bicycles had been around for about forty years or so prior to that. The first bicycles, although recognisable in shape and form, would be more akin to the types of bikes that toddlers used. They had two wheels, handlebars, and a seat, but crucially they did not have pedal or chains. These earl bikes were called ‘Laufmaschine’ or ‘running-machine’ as one still had to propel one’s self by effective running. In France they were known by the name of draisine, as they were in English, although in English they acquired the name ‘hobby horse’. This is indeed where we get the expression ‘to ride one’s hobby horse’.
Despite the fact that most of these hobby horses were manufactured in either France or Germany, this was the heyday of the amateur inventor and people built their own hobby horses in places like Italy, Scotland and the United States. The first major change was the addition of pedals, but unlike today’s bikes the pedals were attached directly to the front wheels of the bike. If one looks at an old photo of a penny-farthing (the classic bicycle with the front wheel at least double the size of the back), one can see the pedals on the front wheel of the bike.
It wasn’t until the last quarter of the 19th century that the rear-chain-drive bicycle was introduced. Initially it was called the ‘safety bicycle’ as up until that point hobby horses were considered the toys of young men as they were quite to control and therefore often dangerous. (In fact, in the 1860s in the United States it was common to find bicycling rinks, as one today finds skating rinks, because most people could only ride on a smooth, paved surface.) It was from the development of the rear-chain-drive bicycle that they came to be see as a mode of transport safe for men, and notably women, of all ages. And from there their popularity as soared.
The first cycling races was as early as 1868 in Paris, France, but one could say that the sport of cycling wasn’t really established until the 1890s when bicycling clubs began springing up all over Europe and the United States. In the 1910s the automobile began the preferred method of transport in the United States, but as a hobby it has endured and to this day the US produced world-class cyclists.
If you’re looking into getting involved in the sport, then consider following some of the major races like the Tour d’France and Tour d’Italy. If you want to spice things up a bit then why put a bit of money of the races at via some sportsbooks sites. But regardless, enjoy the wonderful and healthy sport of cycling!