Bicycle Diaries: At the Chicago Velodrome

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At the Chicago Velodrome

...a blast from the past

Chicago Daily News, 2 March 1932: Charley Winter (left) and Fred Spencer prepare a bike for a six-day bicycle race at the Chicago Velodrome. The endurance races were especially popular among women. Wrote sports reporter Jack Ryan,
The bikers go ’round ‘n‘ ’round and feminine hearts go flippity-flop. Cupid is taking a one-way ride on every set of handle bars.
From Canada, Arnold Devlin writes:
6-day bicycle racing started in England in the 1880's and quickly spread through the European continent and to North America. Up until 1898, 6-day racing was performed by a group of individual cyclists who would ride around a track for 144 hours straight, most often indoors but sometimes outdoors. The track could be as small as 125 meters and as long as 250 meters.

Fighting sleep deprivation and exhaustion the individual cyclist rode round and round to the cheers of the sporting public. Certain humanitarians became concerned at this display of suffering and complained to local authorities to stop the races. The city of New York in particular banned single rider 6-day races. But not to be stopped, the 6-day races were transformed into two man teams who would ride wooden tracks.

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