The History of Bicycling Part 1 May 5, 2010

The bicycle has been such a huge force in changing the world, yet its history is not commonly known and the impact of the bicycle can not be understated. The first roads were paved for the bicycle, cycling played an enormous part in the liberation of women, began the modern day assembly line manufacturing process years before Henry Ford,  and made personal transportation possible for the masses. Today Fairdale will begin an exhaustive several part series that will expose and explain the wonderful history of bicycling. Many hours of preparation and fact checking have gone into this informative series, we hope you enjoy.

One of the earliest known representations of the bicycle stem from drawings found in Leonardo da Vinci’s manuscripts. Orginally dated at 1493 the drawings were later believed to be faked.

Apparently the Leonardo was not actually designing a bicycle at all, he was simply trying to ease the laborious margarita making process with a motorized blender. Similar to the modern day Fender Blender above.

Oddly enough the first bicycle like device ever developed was created by accident. The legendarily well endowed Sir Edmund Hillary of Scotland commissioned a designer in 1825 to help him support his weighty man hood while walking. The designer misunderstood the written instructions and instead of a “loins” supporting device on wheels that was ordered he (through great pains) created a wheeled “lion” supporting device. Thus the first bicycle device was actually created for a large cat.  Eventually the mistake was corrected and Sir Edmund did indeed find the support he needed to carry on an ordinary life.

“Lions” or  Sir Edmund’s famous “Loins”. The bicycle can support them all.

The Smart Feller from 1829. This odd contraption was another early attempt to create the bicycle.

1835, this two person Segway never really caught on because everyone made fun of these guys for being on a Segway.

Camp Woodward X-games training camp opens its doors in 1858 to great popularity.

1880: One of the earliest known photos of Captain James Alibaster Fairdale, our namesake. His relentless attempts to ride his bicycle through the arctic tundra in hope of reaching the north pole are legendary. Despite repeated failures his indomitable spirit lives on today.

1885: An almost forgotten fact of history;  long before the Pope had an armored Pope-Mobile he would ride to battle against the devil on a specially designed bicycle.

1890: Bicycle shop employees have been playing the try-to-get-the-new-guy-to-smell-the-seat joke for over a century.

Because the Boneshaker bikes of the late 1800’s were so dangerous some company actually patented a handle bar that would fly off on impact freeing the riders legs so he could elegantly jump to safety. Seriously!

Few people know what a street shredder Dennis McCoy used to be. Here he pulls one of the first documented rails in 1896. Photo from BMX Plus!’ 32nd issue.

Bicyclists would often fight each other for rights to a smooth roadway. Not unlike today’s flatland riders and their rolling knife fighting battles over the center of that circle.

A women’s bicycle race from 1898. Until this point women had been forbidden to show their legs in anyway. The freedom of transportation created by the bicycle was irresistible to women of the age and quickly brought about a massive revolution in women’s freedoms.

Photo from 1899: A mere one year  after the women’s cycling revolution had begun and women all over the world were dressing like this so be more comfortable while cycling.

People often compare skateboarding to bicycling and debate which is better. Although it is true that skateboarding has given us the pop shuv-it and will someday give us the hover board, there is no match for the things cycling has given us. To top that list is with the advancing freedom and women’s liberation it has given the world the bikini. “Bikini” is even derived from the word “biking”.

The photo above from 1910 shows the now common place outfit we are all used to seeing women wearing while cycling. The bikini. Created in an effort to making bicycling more comfortable for women.

1894: Fixed gear hipster chick poses with her bike while smoking. Somethings never change….