One Monday in late June 1894, a slight, unprepossessing woman in her early 20s climbed onto a Columbia bicycle in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Annie Cohen Kopchovsky was 5- foot-3, about 100 pounds. Aside from two quick lessons in the previous days she had never ridden a bicycle in her life. All across the country, women who’d never balanced atop two wheels were taking to bicycles, but not merely for recreation or transport. Women used bikes as vehicles of political and social change, too. The women’s suffrage movement and the cycling craze went hand in hand. On two wheels, women found independence and freedom of movement. Because pedaling in billowing Victorian skirts and corsets was impractical, for instance, female cyclists popularized bloomers. To critics, these changes symbolized moral corruption.
Frances Willard, one of the most famous women of the times, was a leading suffragist and president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, then the largest women’s political organization. She learned to ride at 53, and mastery of the bicycle as a metaphor for women’s mastery over their lives was the message of her 1895 book, A Wheel Within a Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle (reprinted in 1997 by Applewood Books). She wrote that she rode “from a love of acquiring this new implement of power and literally putting it underfoot.” Indeed, fellow suffragist Susan B. Anthony said in 1896 that the bicycle “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”
From Peter Zheutlin’s article in Bicycling magazine:
“Michael Cooper”Michael Cooper posted this photo on Facebook with the caption:
“This is the sprint final for a race on the China Creek Cycling Track, probably in 1976 or 1977. That is the Washington State sprint champion Richard Snavely on the bottom, me leading at the top of the banking and Ed McRae behind me. The track was torn down in 1980. Our last full racing season was 1979. I was the last BC Track Champion on this track.”
They Yapped All Day
Claude Dube, the 28-year-oId Quebec cyclist who left Montreal last summer bound for Osaka 70 with a caravan of 90 girls, is back in Montreal – $20,000 in the red.
And he never did make it to Japan.
“When we got lo Vancouver they told me they didn’t need me anymore,” he told The Gazette yesterday.
‘The girls left me with all the debts and humiliated – but it was an experience.” Dube became. a well-known figure in 1966 when he peddled from Vancouver to Montreal and in Centennial year he led a group of young girls on a bicycle caravan from Halifax lo Expo 67.
He has written a book entitled Around the World in 6o Months on a Bicycle With $5.
His Montreal – Vancouver- Osaka caravan was to have arrived in Japan for the opening of Expo ’70
But he said he made four mistakes:
“I accepted too many unilingual French-Canadians,” he said. “It made communication next to impossible as i had to repeat everything twice, once in English then in French.”
“1 accepted too many minors ,” he continued. “Sometimes l almost bad lo fight to get them out of bars.
“Thirdly, I had loo much confidence in women, l’ve learned my lesson now.”
“And my fourth mistake was to head for the bottle to calm my nerves,” he said.
“From the time we left Montreal lo the time wc got to Vancouver, all they did is yap all day,” be said.
When the troupe finally arrived in Vancouver, last
Oct. 17. after four months of cycling across Canada, six girls 1eft the caravan.
There the six girls met public relations officers and became involved in various fund raising campaigns, Dube said.
They told the rest of the. girls that a lot of money could be made and the best way to do it would he to leave Dube and form an all girl caravan, he said. “And that is what they did.
“Eventually the publicity deals fell through and 30 girls are still stranded in Vancouver,” Dube said. “I was left with all the tents, bicycles and equipment.”
He said he sold everything but his 1951 car and returned to Montrea1.
“But I haven’t given up on cycling.” he said yesterday. “l’m trying to organize a two-month trip around the province this summer.
“But this time it won’t be all women – no sir.”
By Richard Nutbrown The Montreal Gazette – Mar 27, 1970 source
NFB movie: 10 milles/heure