The Late Velocipede Race (1869)

The Late Velocipede Race

Sir, in your impression of today I observe a letter contradicting your report of the velocipede race, which I am in duty bound to refute, as it is entirely false. As one of the referees, I was anxious to arrive at a fair and impartial judgment of the race. I was appointed to see the competitors started, while the other two referees were to be at the other end of the course so that the result of the contest might be minutely watched. While I was performing my duty at the starting point, arranging the machines side by side, there was an immense crowd close around, so we had to wait a little for a clearance. While we were thus waiting a party in favour of the tricycles gave premature orders to start, although the riders of both velocipedes understood that I was to start them. The riders of the tricycle evidently knew and obeyed the voice of their friend by putting their machine in motion at once and driving through the crowd, thus taking the rider of the bicycle by surprise. Attempts were made to stop the tricycle but without success, as the crowd got naturally in behind. The rider of the bicycle seeing that his opponents were to drive on mounted in haste and confusion, breaking his guiding handle. This caused another stoppage and meantime the tricycle was fully thirty yards ahead. I mounted a cab as the last rider’s feet took to the pedals, drove along in the rear of the tricycle all the way, keeping close to it, so that I could see the bicycle keeping ahead all the way. At one part of the course it was nearly half-a mile in advance of the tricycles, but when the slope was reached the latter made up a good deal of its lost ground. Still I maintain that at the close the bicycle was the winner by fully three hundred yards, for when it reached the goal the tricycle was only passing the cottage on the north side of the Lochee Railway Bridge. The distance between the two places can be measured at any time and I am not afraid of the result. As to the complaint made about the inexperience of the tricycle riders, I can only say that this should have been considered before they thought of entering the contest. They were the challengers and ought to have known their own capabilities better than risk them in a match where they could stand no chance of success. – I am, &c.,

William Whittet.

The Dundee Courier & Argus, July 15, 1869


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