There is no debate that the invention of the bicycle revolutionized the world. It brought about the ease of a person getting from one place to the other and allowed people to experience fun and freedom along the way!
Since the invention in 1817 by Baron Karl von Drais, the world also took interest in the bicycle in the way of athletics and competition. In fact, many of the top cycling races in the world date back for more than a century when bikes were made from just steel and riders went helmetless. By looking to the past of the bicycle, this is where you’ll find some of the most fascinating moments in cycling history.
Safety in Races
An interesting time from cycling’s past is in the 1900s when smoking was permitted during races. In fact, it was thought to provide a bit of a jumpstart to participants. While that drug ended up being riskier than performance-enhancing, riskier still was that the standard helmet wasn’t created until the 1970s. Many cyclists wore spare tubes and tires around their bodies as they rode to protect themselves in the case of an impact. Imagine seeing that fashion statement today!
Cheating in the Tour de France 1904
Not only was smoking commonly seen back in the early days of cycling, but cheating happened frequently. In 1904, Maurice Garin won the Tour de France. However, that title was later revoked because he and other riders had taken a train for part of a stage of the race. Garin also was not one to play nice with his competitors. He put itching powder in their shorts and had some of his supporters attack rival riders with sticks during the race.
But he wasn’t the only cheater that year. Hippolyte Aucouturier cheated during one stage of the Tour de France when he attached a string of cork that he griped between his teeth to a car and allowed for it to tow him for some of the race. However, he was caught when the car that pulled him drove just a little too fast behind the race officials.
Jens Voigt Used a Child’s Bike to Finish the Tour de France
In the very early days of cycling, things looked completely different in the competitive world. But if you fast forward to more recent years, you’ll still find some fascinating instances of the bicycle’s story. A great example of this is in 2010 when Germain rider, Jens Voigt, totaled his bike after a fall during Stage 16 of the Tour de France. Since he had to abandon his bicycle at the 2009 Tour de France due to injury, he was determined to finish the 2010 race.
Voigt’s support cars had already passed when he fell during the descent of the climb, so he then decided to borrow a kid’s bike from the junior’s race that was following the route. He rode the child-size bike for 12 miles until he was able to get another bike from his team car. Voigt was able to finish the race before the official cutoff time and although he finished in 125th place, he finished! Because he completed the race, Voigt showed everyone an inspiring tale of his determination and willpower.
Whether you have been cycling all your life or just in recent years, we can all learn a lot from its history. Let’s be thankful that safety and sportsmanship are more prevalent in competition than it was in the early days of cycling. By doing this we can look back at the past and relic these moments.
It is now up to you to get out there and create your own fascinating moments in cycling!