A penny-farthing bicycle race (1890)

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The coming Niagara Falls meet of the LAW

The championship contests — Nine of them will be ridden and records will probably drop a peg or two — Hoyland Smith and others will be there

Nowadays when one sees a hearty, happy, healthy looking young fellow who has a jolly laugh, a good, all ’round muscular development, a clear complexion, and no dyspepsia, it is safe to set him down as a wheelman. It takes a good man to ride the silent steed, and it makes a better man — when he rides systematically and persistently, at any rate.

Ask one of these bicyclists where he is going to spend the last week in August this year, and the chances are that he will say promptly: “At Niagara Falls.” If he is a fast man, one who has a record, if he is what the wheelmen call a “crack,” there’s no need of asking him the question. The answer can be taken for granted.

The bicycle race start & finish

Ordinary (penny-farthing) bicycle race start:

The start

Ordinary (penny-farthing) bicycle race finish:

The finish

League of American Wheelmen

There have been big gatherings of wheelmen before this, but never such a one as will be seen at the Falls on Aug. 25, 26 and 27. It is expected that 5,000 of the 14,000 members of the League of American Wheelmen will be there in all the glory of gay uniforms and highly-polished wheels. This is to be a “meet,” not a “meeting,” which is quite a different matter so far as the LAW vocabulary is concerned. A “meet” is for racing, a love feast, and a general jollification. A “meeting” is for the transaction of business, and, with the exception of a slight change in the constitution, no business is to be done at Niagara Falls.

Of course the races will be the feature of the “meet.” For the first time, national championship races are to be run off. Heretofore Tom, Dick and Harry were privileged to compete in these championship races. According to the new racing rules, only the cream of the cream, so to speak, will appear on the track during the nine championship races which will constitute the greatest bicycling event ever held in this country. Those who are successful in the club championship races will meet and contest for state championships, and the winners of these will meet to settle the district championships.

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At the last business meeting of the LAW, the country was divided into seven of these racing districts, each comprising from two to ten states, and tho following LAW national championships have been established by the board of managers: One mile, two mile and five mile “ordinary” bicycle; one mile, two mile and five mile “safety” bicycle, and one mile, two mile and three mile tandem safety.


Photos by George Barker

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