The very beginning of the bicycle finds its roots in 1817 when a German baron Karl von Drais came up with the idea of a ‘horseless carriage’ so as to get around faster and not depend on a steed. the two-wheeled, pedal-less vehicle was propelled by pushing the feet against the ground. It came to be known as the ‘draisine’ and was the very first step towards the creation of the modern-day bicycle.
Around the globe in 1935
There are now a lot of names that have circumnavigated the globe on two wheels but being 25 and in 1935, it was rather a feat even larger for Fred A. Birchmore. His trip from Europe, Asia and the US covered 64,000 km. Of these many, many kilometers, he pedalled 40,000 and the rest were by boat. He used seven sets of tyres throughout the trip.
The term ‘bicycle’
Have you seen greyscale photos of a bicycle with a massive front wheel and a small rear one, which is now perhaps only seen in circuses? Called the ‘high wheel bicycle’, it was popular in the 1870s. However, the term ‘bicycle’ was introduced in the 1860s in France to describe a new type of two-wheeler with a mechanical drive.
Tour de France
We’ve all heard of the premiere bicycle sporting event but did you know that it’s been going on since 1903? It is one of the most famous bicycle races in the world and is considered to be the biggest test of endurance among several sports.
Mechanical horses that learnt to fly
The bicycle was the very first step mankind took away from dependence on carriages pulled by animals. Cyclists on ‘mechanical horses’ could ‘fly’ at an altitude of five feet or so which was way faster than horse carriages. So, they had no need to actually fly. A Fast Company report quotes a magazine editor in 1894: “There be steeds that neither eat nor drink, yet Bucephalus in all his glory could not go as fast or as far as they. Shall we presently fly? Why fly? Surely we are going fast enough now.”
Plus, in the early 20th century, many in the scientific community insisted that a true flying machine was physically impossible. However, while the bicycle was in an obvious way the first step to motorcycles as an engine was bolted to one and tested, it was also where the thirst and learning for flying came from.
The bicycle maker Charles Duryea designed a pedal-powered helicopter, though he probably never built it. Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who built the first flying airplane, operated a small bicycle repair shop in Dayton, Ohio. They used their workshop to build the 1903 Wright Flyer.