The History of the Bicycle
(or. . . . Thanks for 200 Years!)
2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the bicycle . . . or what most experts believe to be the first iteration of the bicycle. 1817 was a year of substantial crop failure, and horses, the Uber of the era, were starving. The world needed a Plan B, which was invented by a gentleman named Karl von Drais of Mannheim, Germany. Named the “Running Machine” the rider basically sat down and used his feet, Fred Flintstone style, to gain momentum and keep balance. The handlebars turned the front wheel, enabling steering, but the wooden frame proved to be problematic and unforgiving.
During the next 60 years, the bicycle evolved into the “Bone Shaker,” which added pedals and a direct drive and then the infamous “Highwheeler,” which introduced a lighter frame made of metal, with the over-sized front wheel. And then, with a dozen more years of innovation, women were riding . . . albeit with quite a bit of scandal and promises of barrenness and over-stimulation.
This is the postcard version of the history of the bicycle. In the wings were countless people who believed in a better way to get around. Better for health, for speed, for the wallet, and for the planet. I’m thankful to the visionaries, designers, technicians, and creators over the past 200 years. So whether you ride Gazelle or Trek, Fuji or Columbia, Huffy or Schwinn, we have some serious celebrating to do. Take out your two wheels and give it a go . . .for old times’ sake.