Reader Question: More on Cycling!

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Mark writes: I’m very involved in cycling in a major way and own a well-known business that is international. A few things you may like to know, in case you target this topic again:

The first paved roads in the U.S. were for bicycles. The number one spectator sport up until WW2 was bicycle racing. What started that was, a man put wood planks between the train track rails and drafted a train and hit 60 mph. Way faster than any car could dream of going. That got the tandem, triple and even the quad because the fans wanted to see higher speeds.

There were two U.S. Patent Offices, one for bicycles and the other for everything else, no kidding. When you see Babe Ruth smack a big hit in the old black and white newsreels at Yankee Stadium and the joint is packed to the hilt . . .bicycling racing was even larger.

Look at the Wright Brothers, they figured out that the lift came off the top of the wing, which got them up in the air. Pretty good for a couple bicycle show guys.

The very first huge international sports star was Major Taylor, a young bicycle racer that was black and was raised by a white doctor and his wife. When Major Taylor raced in many countries in Europe, kings and queens would come to watch and meet him. You would be shocked to know that most all black Americans haven’t the first clue about Major Taylor.

Board bikes got popular because of bicycle racing, which is what they were for the most part but with a motor. I have a 1910 Flying Merkel and a 1926 Harley Davidson, both board bikes and will soon complete an Indian from the same era. In fact, Merkel Motors came out with the first V-Twin motor, before HD and Indian and they were faster too!

When fuel prices go up, so does my business sales and I only sell to distributors who in turn sell to the retailers. Even in that food chain, I can see the number go up. When fuel comes back down, the numbers stay up. My company is a sponsor of the RAAM, which is a Race Across America. If you’re not up to speed about it, look it up. One thing that really sucks about having a car take a cyclist out in a wreck is, the cops will jump throw hoops to find the cyclist at fault. For some reason cops know little to nothing about cycling and see them as a pain. Some of the most intense cyclist are messengers in NYC, those riders (both men and women) have nerves of steel and are impressive riders. And yes, many cities have messengers races for messengers with real prizes and cash. I got rid of my 2018 chevy pick up because of the sliding and got a 2019 single wheel rear axel, one ton, LTZ. 7,000 pounds and no sliding. That truck is 4X4 and a Z71 off road set up. Sits up high and so far no nose bleeds.

My reply: Good stuff, Mark – thanks for hipping me (and the rest here) to all of this. I think the key take-home point is that fundamentally, cyclists aren’t the enemy.

As always, the government is!

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  1. Sounds great! At least one car company started out making bicycles before becoming the 2nd mass-produced car in the US – Rambler. (Rambler begat Jefferey, which became Nash, then AMC, to ultimately be absorbed by Chrysler.)

    Let us know when there’s a bicycle that has a dry compartment for rainy days, a heater for winter, and air conditioning for summer and maybe I’ll consider taking up cycling again. 🙂

  2. Hi Mark,

    I’m in the bike business, are you? I ask because the discussion of fuel prices implies that you are. If so, what is the name, as maybe I can patronize it for some of my needs.

    Also, thanks for the history of the early days of cycling. Major Taylor was a badass. At one time I think he was the highest paid athlete in the world! For part of his career he rode a shaft driven bike and still won! To those who don’t understand why that’s impressive, shaft driven bikes are significantly less efficient than a chain driven bike.



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