Friday, September 11, 2009


Bicycles have been around for yonks - probably 150 years or so, although the bike we recognise today really dates back to around 1886 when the first chain-driven cycles appeared. I do not know when bicycles reached Australia, but here is a photo from around 1896 that shows some people cycling through Brisbane's Botanical Gardens. The fact that they are female people (click the photo to see a larger image) gave me pause for thought - I admit to thinking that it may not have been "acceptable" for women to ride bikes at that time. On checking Wikipedia - lo and behold! The article on the bicycle includes a section headed "female emancipation" that credits the humble push-bike as being a catalyst for greater freedom for women.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #7871-0001-0023)

Cycling became very popular at the beginning of the twentieth century - once pneumatic tyres and gears became available, there was a real boom in bicycles. Then came the motor car. Now that the automobile has just about reached saturation level, the wheel has turned full circle (groan!) and cycling for fun and fitness has been reinvigorated. These days cycling is the new golf, and hundreds of thousands of weekend riders squeeze into lycra, spin round the block or the park, and then hit the cafes on a regular basis. All of that is fine, but the sight of a legion of those shaved (male) legs in lycra puts the Sunday morning bacon and eggs in jeopardy sometimes. :-)
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In my recent photo, I have also captured some female cyclists, albeit dressed a little differently from a century ago, competing in a race at the Nundah velodrome. Technology has also altered the bikes significantly - these ones are now made with modern alloys designed to make them lighter and therefore faster. You've come a long way, baby!

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Eliza Fraser

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