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Sometimes in our fast paced world it’s difficult to imagine our communities of the past. Historian Rui Santos detailed an average trip by horse and carriage from Boston to Plymouth in the 1830s lasting some 10 hours. Fifty years later a new form of transportation would take center stage: the bicycle.
And it was during that time period between 1880 and 1900 that the intersection of race, athleticism and cycling came to mean new forms of freedom and expression.
Lorenz Finison’s remarkable new book, Boston’s Cycling Craze paints the landscape of how a host of visionaries took to the streets and byways … all for the glory of the bicycle. Black, White, Asian and Biracial…they are all in the book and all chronicled in detail during these pioneer years of cycling.
Come explore with us as we turn back the clocks to the golden age of bicycles during and era worth noting in the annuls of American history.
About The Book
From 1877 to 1896, the popularity of bicycles increased exponentially, and Boston was in on it from the start. The Boston Bicycle Club was the first in the nation, and the city’s cyclists formed the nucleus of a new national organization, the League of American Wheelmen. The sport was becoming a craze, and Massachusetts had the largest per capita membership in the league in the 1890s and the largest percentage of women members. Several prominent cycling magazines were published in Boston, making cycling a topic of press coverage and a growing cultural influence as well as a form of recreation.
Lorenz J. Finison explores the remarkable rise of Boston cycling through the lives of several participants, including Kittie Knox, a biracial twenty-year-old seamstress who challenged the color line; Mary Sargent Hopkins, a self-proclaimed expert on women’s cycling and publisher of The Wheelwoman; and Abbot Bassett, a longtime secretary of the League of American Wheelman and a vocal cycling advocate for forty years. Finison shows how these riders and others interacted on the road and in their cycling clubhouses, often constrained by issues of race, class, religion, and gender. He reveals the challenges facing these riders, whether cycling for recreation or racing, in a time of segregation, increased immigration, and debates about the rights of women.
See more at: https://www.umass.edu/umpress/title/bostons-cycling-craze-1880-1900#sthash.bZqbMUTL.dpuf
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.