Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cycling in 1887

I just finished work on the second edition of It Happened in Missouri. There will be two new chapters in this edition, one on Jesse James imposters and the other on the champion cycling race held in Clarksville in 1887.

While I've done lots of research on Jesse James, early cycling was new to me. Back in 1887 the bicycle of choice was the Ordinary. These were the days before gears, so if you wanted to go fast, you needed a big wheel.

That, and the many unpaved roads, made bicycles very unstable and many a cyclist "took a header." The guy on the right of this picture has his legs up on the handlebars as he descends the hill, a common precaution so that if he hits a rock or pothole and does a header, he'll land on his feet. A safer (and more ladylike) option was to use a tricycle.

I'm not sure when the second edition will come out. I'll be sure to mention it here, of course!

Image from 1887 courtesy Library of Congress.


  1. I have a good sense of balance, but those cycles would've made me nervous.

  2. An extreme sport for the times? Liked that image, Sean. Good luck with the writing. Research is something I enjoy as well.

  3. I always wondered how lethal those old bicycles were. Taking a header from that far off the ground at any significant speed could easily be deadly.


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