Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cycling Etiquette and Romance

A proper woman's "Cycling Costume" from 1901

The Bicycle In Love-Making from 1895

Extraordinary Number of "Scorchers'' Who Become Bridegrooms! 

"All our best racers are getting married like winking; in fact, there is an epidemic of marriage going on among them just now!" That is the testimony that comes over from London, and it would seem to be an undoubted fact that throughout England and France, at least, the wheel is rapidly augmenting marrying and giving in marriage. 

The London County Cycling Club has recognized this tendency, and has provided for it by offering prizes for the season's racing that gentlemen competitors may find acceptable and suitable to present, to their wives. The trouble is that while a cyclist is still in his salad days, and before he thinks of matrimony, he is generally interested in racing, and delights in posing as a champion "scorcher" for the benefit of lady cyclists who are there to view.
"One of the most popular sporting activities was bicycling. A favored costume exists of a double-breasted jacket with large leg-of-mutton sleeves. Underneath a lady was wearing a shirt blouse with a stiffened collar and a man's tie. She also has on wide knickerbockers, coloured stockings made of cotton and a straw hat with stand-up trimmings and a face veil. For a game of tennis, a lady wore a blouse and a short skirt (two inches of the ground!), a cap, a tie and gloves. A bathing costume was made of cotton with insets of embroidery. These outfits may appear very cumbersome to us, and it is difficult imagine participating in sport hampered by so much material. These clothes however were quite revolutionary in their time and were frowned upon by many as quite scandalous. At this time, women were beginning their struggle for emancipation and it is interesting that their desire to be on an equal footing with men is reflected in the clothes that they wore. The wide leg-of-mutton sleeves gave ladies a masculine, rather aggressive appearance rather than emphasizing their femininity." From

If there is anything a wheelwoman appreciates, it is a man who is strong, powerful and enduring on his cycle, and who can put up a century at very nearly record-speed. The men who can do this the best are the favorites for women to ride with. Long trips, the participants being a man and a girl alone, naturally follow, and after a few of these an engagement results. 
Watch out, scorchers... Fall in  love and your cycling speeds may drop! Unless of course, your wife fancies a new brooch.

After marriage the "scorchers" begin to subside, and their pace becomes much gentler. Several of the leading cycle clubs of London have lost many of their swiftest members through marriage. In an attempt to do something to break this tendency the prizes for the 100-mile race which is to take place in London on the Herne Hill track have been so designed that they can either be used as clasps for gentlemen or as brooches lor ladies. It is hoped that the married women desirous of acquiring these will force their husbands to practice and enter.
A late 1800's Cycling Costume and Riding Habit
The effect of cycling on the matrimonial market in this country has not been especially marked here, but it is likely to be within a few months. That is, if one may judge from the number of engagements that are probably "on" at the present time. Claremont and the Casino in the park have countless couples who dismount shyly from their wheels and come into the restaurant each evening with a "Don't speak to us, don't look at us, please." style. Daisy Bell's bicycle that was built for two, never panned out half so well as these solitary wheels that scurry around through the darkness of New York in pairs. 

The bicycle wedding pictured the other day in one of the comic papers, wherein everybody in the wedding procession was cycling to the church, may yet be witnessed in New York. This picture was a joke, but as a matter of fact, and an absolutely truthful one at that, there was a bicycle wedding a few days ago in the sleepy little village of Astead, in Surrey. Every member of the bridal party went to the church mounted on a bicycle. When the procession started from Leatherhead, about two miles from the town where the ceremony was to take place, it aroused the utmost enthusiasm among the villagers, who cheered it vociferously. At the head of the company rode the bride and bridegroom, astride of a tandem cycle. The bride, who occupied the front seat and attended to piloting her better half that was to be over the rough bits of road, was a striking picture. She wore a fawn-colored costume appropriate for cycling, and her leggings were of the trimmest and neatest. Upon her head was a wreath of orange blossoms, to which was attached a long white veil which streamed out straight in the wind caused by their rapid flight and occasionally slapped in the face of the bridegroom, causing him to find vent for his annoyance by pedaling a little harder. 
Fashions for the Gilded Age Sportswoman
The bridegroom was also a thing of beauty. His raiment was light-colored, like the bride's, and it is a fact well worth noting and moralizing over that the veil and orange blossoms were the only distinguishing marks between the two. The bridesmaids and the best men hurried perspiringly in the wake of the happy pair. The best men wore "scorcher" breeches presented by the bridegroom. 

The party finally reached the church in great good humor, and after the ceremony wheeled away to the hostelry where a wedding feast had been commanded. On the road they passed that famous inn where the landlady refuses to recognize knickerbockered ladies unless they consent to wear skirts. The speechless indignation of this innkeeper is said to have been very funny.        
Undoubtedly, the innkeeper would have approved of this non-knickerbockered cyclist.

Doubtless before long there will be as rigid a system of etiquette established for bicycle weddings, as exists to-day for the ordinary sort. Probably in the near future it will be considered more common in fact for the bride and bridegroom to wheel up to the church on separate bicyles and, after they have been made one by the minister, to ride away on a tandem which might be ridden to the church by the principal bridesmaid and the best man. -1895, New York

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