Chicago has a champion lady scorcher who rides in white duck bloomers, black golf stockings, astride of a tan-coloured bicycle, with a diamond frame. We have not heard that any other city is wildly ambitious to possess the phenomenon referred to. On behalf of Europe we beg to intimate that Chicago may keep her!
– Editorial Topics, Cycling Magazine, 24th July, 1897
I’m addicted to reading magazines of the past. I particularly like those from the 1890s. Of course, being a vintage bicycle enthusiast, I like to discover adverts for obscure cycling items, such as the portable cycle houses above. But there’s more to it than that. In school history lessons, I paid scant attention to the facts that were rammed down my throat and learned by rote; once recited, they were forgotten.
Rather than momentous occasions recorded by historians, magazines reveal issues and attitudes affecting ordinary people. Editorial comments and readers’ letters show how folks felt about things at the time. For example, a recurring theme of 1890s magazines is reports of death and injury due to riding at speed downhill – a big problem for cyclists with fixed-wheel bikes until the freewheel hub was invented at the end of the decade. As you’ve observed from the snippet at the top of the page, another ongoing topic was women’s cycling attire.