Whenever I look at cycling history, I am inspired by the women who rode long before spandex was around to polarize ideologies. Here are some gems from around the internet.
Before Minneapolis’s newspaper became the Star-Tribune and divorce became socially acceptable, Ann Strong wrote that:
“The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.”
~Ann Strong, Minneapolis Tribune, 1895
(from Best Bicycling Quotes)
I think I might just have to start using Ann Strong as a screen name.
There is some great history out there linking bicycles to the first wave of feminism and the suffragette movement. Susan B. Anthony even said, “She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.“ I don’t think I’ve mastered life, but I would firmly stand behind the statement “She who masters the bicycle will gain the mastery of transportation independence, physical fitness, mental clarity, and self confidence.” Then again, I still can’t really bunny hop* with my platform pedals, so maybe when I get that and track-standing* down, mastery of life will come with them.
Anyway, you can read more about bicycles and the early women’s movement at A Short Illustrated History of the Bicycle.
*footnotes: a bunny hop is basically what it sounds like: getting both tires of the bike off the ground in order to jump over something, such as a curb. It’s much easier to do with toe retention. A track-stand is when a cyclist stands still (usually at a red light) while balancing on her bike – often seen by fixie riders. I’m working on both, but still pretty miserable at them.