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Inside Cycling

Inside Cycling (Aug 30th, 2019)

Hi! We’re taking a break from the daily look at stories to offer you a holiday weekend edition. We’ve got 10 items of cycling trivia you can use to quiz yourself and your friends. We won’t have a newsletter Monday, so enjoy this special issue, enjoy Labor Day weekend and we’ll see you next Wednesday.

Hailey Hudson

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1. The first bicycle was created in the 1800s. Horses were dying due to starvation after crops failed when an Indonesian volcano erupted, so a German inventor named Karl von Drais created a vehicle that he called a hobby horse and marketed it as a way to get around. The contraption weighed 50 lbs and had a wooden frame with two wooden wheels. It did not have gears or pedals — riders sat on the hobby horse and pushed with their feet. Hobby horses were very popular in England for a few years, but were eventually labeled a danger to pedestrians and banned from sidewalks. By 1820, hobby horses were essentially no more. Drais, though, is still widely regarded as the father of the modern bicycle. — HISTORY

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2. 1800s bicycles were called “velocipedes.” A few decades later, the idea of the bicycle came back into fashion. Someone added pedals to a hobby horse and the bicycle (called a “velocipede,” or fast foot) was born. By 1870, manufacturers began creating bicycle frames with metal and not wood. They began to make bigger front wheels for the bikes, realizing you could travel further with each pedal rotation. 200,000 bicycles were in use in 1889; ten years later, that number jumped to 1 million. Bikes were expensive at first but eventually became accessible for the working class as a way to get to work and back. — LIVE SCIENCE

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3. Bikes helped influence automobiles, but automobiles hurt bikes. Several bicycle parts — such as ball bearings, differential units, steel tubing and pneumatic tires — were later used for motorized vehicles. And many early automobile builders started out as bicycle makers; even the Wright brothers used to be bike manufacturers before looking to the sky. But as bicycles helped automobiles, cars did not return the favor: Automobiles became more popular and bikes took a backseat. For over 50 years in the 20th century, bicycles were only used by children. It wasn’t until the 1960s that people realized cycling was a non-polluting way to commute. In 1970, cycling was the nation’s leading outdoor recreation. — LIVE SCIENCE

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4. Cycling began as a sport in 1868. The first-ever bike race occured May 31 near Paris. Competitors raced 1,312 yards between fountains and the entrance to Saint-Cloud Park. James Moore, an 18-year-old Englishman, won the race. In November 1869, he won another race, this one the first ever city-to-city race (Paris to Rouen). Road racing quickly became popular in Europe, but in England, the roads were in poor condition and time trials were common instead. The first race in the U.S. happened in 1878 (for a little context, that’s two years after professional baseball began, and 13 years before basketball was invented). — BRITANNICA

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5. Cycling became an Olympic sport in 1896. Cycling was present at the first modern Olympic games in Athens, 1896. Ever since, track cycling events have been included in every Olympics except 1912 (where only a road race occurred). In the 1900s, sprint, time trial over one kilometer, tandem and team pursuit were typically included in each Games. Tandem was dropped after 1972. Women began competing in track events in 1988. In Sydney 2000, several new track events were added, such as the 500m time trial for women. — OLYMPIC.ORG

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6. BMX bikes were created in the 1970s. BMX is short for bicycle motocross, and these bikes became popular in the 1970s, especially among young bike riders in southern California who were looking for something fresh. BMX was a cheap alternative to motocross, and most early BMX bikes were based on the Schwinn Sting-Ray bike. A 1972 motorcycle racing documentary titled On Any Sunday helped heighten the off-road bicycle craze, and bicycle manufacturers took notice and began offering BMX models. Organizations such as the National Bicycle League and International BMX Federation quickly formed to help bicycle motocross become an official sport. — BICYCLE HISTORY 

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7. The first Tour de France was held in 1903. Maurice Garin, a French cyclist, won. Since then, the race has been held every year except during the two World Wars (1915-1919 and 1940-1947). Four riders — Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain — have won the Tour five times each. Henri Paret was the oldest competitor at 50 years old in 1904, and the youngest competitor so far was 20 years old. Riders who hail from France have won the most Tours; the longest Tour occurred in 1926 and stretched over 5,475 kilometers. — TOP END SPORTS

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8. The estimated size of the U.S. bicycle market is $6.2 billion. Most bikes sold in the U.S. are manufactured overseas; 99 percent of bikes sold in U.S. stores are imported from China or Taiwan. The U.S. spent $152k on e-bikes alone in 2016, with Trek being the most popular brand. $24.65 is the average annual consumer expenditure on bicycles. — STATISTA

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9. The most distance cycled in a year is 86,573 miles. In 1939, Tommy Godwin set a record of 75,065 miles. This record held until 2016, when an American cyclist named Kurt Searvogel topped it at 76,076 miles in a year (an average of 208 per day). However, Searvogel didn’t stay there for long: 23-year-old cyclist Amanda Coker rode 86,573 miles with 40 days left over. Then she also set the record for the fastest 100,000 miles ever — 423 days. — ROAD.CC

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10. Ghost bikes honor fallen cyclists and have been in use since 2003. Recently, we reported on the New York cyclists who placed a white bike at the intersection where Jose Alzorriz died, but we didn’t fully explain this trend. Small organizations around the world make white bikes, or “ghost bikes,” for friends and family to place at the scene of a fatal crash. Over 600 ghost bikes have been placed. “It does… bring attention to the person who was killed,” said Solita Work, who recently organized a ghost bike ride for a Calgary cyclist who died after being hit by a truck. “But also it’s going to bring attention and a call to action for safer streets in our city so these kinds of things don’t happen.” — BICYCLING

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Inside Cycling is written and curated by Hailey Hudson, an Atlanta freelance writer with a love for all things fitness and sports. Hailey performs an equal mix of journalism and content marketing services for clients such as Sitejabber, Barnes & Noble Education and FloSports. In her spare time, she writes YA novels, tap dances and snuggles with her beagle puppy Sophie. Follow her on Instagram @haileyh412.

Editor: Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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