Bicycle Diaries: Hints for beginners

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Hints for beginners

from Punch

Most folks, today, forget that back of the turn of the 20th Century cages and bikes were BOTH considered the epitome of modern transportation. As each became equally ubiquitous on the highways and byways of Merry Ole' England, the venerable Punch magazine humorously observed their impact. Then in 1910, J. A. Hammerton compiled these observations in Mr. Punch Awheel: The Humours of Motoring and Cycling. What strikes me most are the similarities in the not-so subtle humor of this work and that of Yehuda Moon or Andy Singer. As the French would say, plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose. Although it's unfortunate that the book is out of print, you can get a peek over at Project Gutenberg. Below is one brief example, Hints for Bike Beginners.

1. Insure your life and limbs. The former will benefit your relations, the latter yourself.

2. Learn on a hired machine. The best plan is to borrow a machine from a friend. It saves hiring. Should the tyre become punctured, the brake be broken, the bell cracked, the lamp missing, and the gear out of gear, you will return it as soon as possible, advising your friend to provide himself with a stronger one next time.

3. Practise on some soft and smooth ground. For example, on a lawn; the one next door for choice. A muddy road, although sufficiently soft, is not recommended—the drawbacks are obvious.

4. Choose a secluded place for practising. It may at first sight appear somewhat selfish to deprive your neighbours of a gratuitous performance which would be certain to amuse them. Nevertheless, be firm.

5. Get someone to hold you on. Engage a friend in an interesting conversation while you mount your bicycle. Do you remember Mr. Winkle's dialogue with Sam Weller when he attempted skating? You can model your conversation on this idea. Friend will support you while you ride and talk. Keep him at it. It will be excellent exercise for him, physically and morally. Also economical for you; as, otherwise, you would have to pay a runner.

6. Don't bike; trike.

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