Velocipedes races (1869)

Velocipedes races

The irresistible tendency to challenges in speed has led to velocipede races, just as certainly as to horse races and boat races. Paris, we are told, is alive in this way. In the Bois de Boulogne, and on the suburban roads near the capital, such races are conducted under all sorts of conditions. As a skilful velocipedestrian can do his 12 or 14 miles per hour and can continue this for four or five hours at a stretch, there is certainly a potentiality of contesting a rather formidable race. In one instance two Frenchmen challenged each other to do the greatest amount of distance in 24 hours; one accomplished 87 miles and then yielded, the other spun along until he had accomplishes 123 miles. On another occasion a party of nine persons went from Rouen to Paris between an 8 o’clock breakfast and a seven o’clock dinner, the distance being 85 miles. Very recently, in England (for the fit, be it observed, is coming upon us also), three velocipedestrians went from London to Brighton at the rate of 8 miles an hour – a part of the way at nearly double the rate. At Liverpool there is a velocipede race club, the members for which competed on a recent occasion for a silver cup; the winner accomplished eight miles in 44 minutes – he only ‘knocked down one boy.’ Many useful appliances of the velocipede have been suggested – such as to save the overworked legs of the rural postman; to carry reconnoitring outposts in the van of an army; to assemble lifeboat men quickly at their place of rendezvous; to accommodate country doctors and county parsons in their round of visits among widely-scattered villages. Indeed, utility was more held in view than mere amusement by the early inventors, for one of them, M Drouze, succeeded in inducing the French government to mount a certain number of rural postmen upon velocipedes; but an accumulation of ice and snow put a stop to the enterprise, which had not vitality enough to revive. Our city men have recently been reminded that, as the suburban fares on the three naughty southern railways have been raised, it might be worth considering whether the velocipede could be appealed to. We only beg respectfully to point out that the rider would have to carry his horse some miles out before the road would be clear enough for the horse to carry his rider. There must be tolerably clear roads, smooth roads and level roads to give fair play to the system, a combination by no means often to be met with. – Once a Week.

The Times, May 6th 1869, p. 13

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