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1890s bicycle racer illustration
1890s bicycle racer illustration

The Cycler's Song

It's amazing what you come across as you peruse long-gone newspapers from more than a century ago, including a poetic tribute to the virtues of cycling, written at the apex of the golden age of bicycling in America.

While perusing the U.S. Library of Congress' Chronicling America database of American newspapers, I came across the poem below in the September 28, 1895 edition of the San Francisco Call. It appears page 8 Sports section. It is in column four in the middle of news about bicycle road races from San Leandro to Hayward. It's interesting in its extolling of cycling as being good for both the body and soul, an argument that's changed little in the intervening century. Written by one J.A.B. it first appeared in the New York World.

There's joy in a sail in a merry gale
On the deck of a flying yacht,
And a burst of speed with a gallant steed
Is with liveliest pleasure fraught.
And an ocean trip on a bounding ship
On the breast of a sparkling sea
Brings vigor again to the weary brain,
But a spin on the wheel for me.

REFRAIN

Wheeling, wheeling, swift as the rushing wind,
The wrinkles of car fade away in the air as the city we leave behind,
The heart grows light and eyes grow bright as the kiss of the breeze we feel
While speeding along with a merry song astride of the noiseless wheel.

We hold in disdain the clattering train
As it flies o'er the gleaming rail,
No joy is so bright as our rapid flight
As we speed over hill and dale;
Through beautiful lanes where the leafy manes
Of the trees in the breezes play,
With a laugh and song we speed along
From the cares of the world away.

Hurrah for the wheel, for the whirling wheel,
Hurrah for the riders so gay,
A rollicking cheer for the country dear,
And the scent of new-mown hay.
Hurrah for the blush of the cheeks aflush
With a ruddy and healthful glow,
And a three time three for life so free
Which the cyclers alone may know.

Posted By: Bill Moore [05-Jan-2015]

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