12 artifacts in this set
Six men line up for the start of a race in Cleveland, Ohio. Identified cyclists include A. B. Rich, W. E. Crist, and Charles Frazier -- recognized racing names found in the pages of cycling journals of the period. Frazier, second from the left, rides a Star Safety -- a high-wheeler with the small wheel in front to help prevent headers.
Many cyclists loved to race. This high-wheel racing model was made in 1886 by Humber and Company, an English firm. The cyclist would hump over the large front wheel -- this one is 55 inches tall -- trying to out-pedal competitors. By the early 1890s, a faster machine would prevail -- the low-mount safety with equal-sized wheels, chain drive, and pneumatic tires.
Five cyclists await the starter's gun atop their safety bicycles in this 1890s photograph. By the early 1890s, the safety was outpacing its high-wheel forerunner. Cycling enthusiasts would abandon high wheelers and set new records on faster-racing safeties.
Timothy L. Connolly, along with his brother Daniel, raced bicycles in the early 1890s. Connolly won numerous prizes while racing for athletic clubs in Boston and New York. Sporting a jersey with an athletic club patch -- most likely for the Trimount Athletic Club of Boston -- Connolly posed for this photograph with a chest full of medals.
E. A. McDuffie made an effort to race fast during the 1890s. This studio photograph -- an image he could give to friends or perhaps one his fans could purchase -- shows him in his racing togs or uniform atop a bike. The cyclist signed the back of this image simply, "Yours E. A. McDuffie."
George M. Holley founded his first automotive company, with his brother Earl, in 1896 -- when he was still a teenager. After initially building three and four-wheeled vehicles, the brothers specialized in carburetors, and the Holley Carburetor Company became a major supplier to American automakers. George Holley won this trophy in an 1896 bicycle race in New Jersey.
Barney Oldfield Riding the "Blue Streak" Bicycle on the Salt Palace Board Track, Salt Lake City, Utah, circa 1900
Auto racing legend Barney Oldfield began his racing career on two wheels. The Ohio native began racing bicycles in his teens -- winning a number of competitions. This photo shows the young Oldfield in his early twenties at a racetrack in Salt Lake City. In 1902, this fearless Ohioan turned his talents to auto racing -- piloting the Henry Ford designed race car "999."
The sleek, light Tribune "Blue Streak," built by Black Manufacturing Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, was a racing favorite. Charles "Mile-a-Minute" Murphy used a Tribune "Blue Streak" to set the mile speed record in 1899. This 1898 model was used by another cyclist who later became America's first automobile racing hero: Barney Oldfield.
Cyclists in the late 1800s and early 1900s joined clubs to promote bicycle issues, to tour the countryside, and -- for many athletic young men -- to race. Club members proudly displayed badges and medals that recalled their racing accomplishments. Henry McWhirter, a member of San Francisco's New Century Wheelmen, wore these competition bars.
This collage contains images of a number of cyclists from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The images were cut from magazines or newspapers and most are identified with names pasted alongside. Of interest is the woman cyclist in the lower right corner. Tillie Anderson was the world champion female cyclist at the turn of the 20th century.
Chicago, Illinois, native Roy Mobeck began bicycle racing as an amateur in the late 1910s. He participated in and won several local competitions. Mobeck won the Cook County Bicycling Championship in 1921 and received this trophy. In the early 1920s, the cyclist turned professional and competed in a number of six-day races throughout the Midwest.