Being a part of the most supportive and environmentally friendly community is great and it’s an achievement that deserves to be celebrated each day, but to make it more formal, the United Nations General Assembly declared in 2018 that there should be an official day for that, and announced that 3rd of June shall be the World Bicycle day.
Sometimes we all need just a good reason for a celebration, and World Bicycle day might be it.
In honor of this amazing day, Velosock has decided to look back on all of the amazing and memorable cycling momentos throughout the history!
Firstly, let's start with the very unfortunate reason why bicycles were invented - people were lacking horses. At the time, many horses had starved to death in the recent volcanic winter, caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, so people were forced to come up with new ways of transportation.
Unlike the mystery of which one was the first- the chicken or the egg, in terms of bicycles it has already been cleared out- first came the bicycle and only then they figured that it should be given a name.
The world bicycle started being used several years after first bicycles appeared for sale. Those first models were called velocipedes.
There were previous versions of the velocipedes of course, but they had 4 wheels and not much of a control over them, so they became dangerous and less popular.
After less successful attempts to create a human-powered vehicle, the new, improved velocipedes made a comeback in the early 1860s with the introduction of a wooden contraption with two steel wheels, pedals and a fixed gear system. Known as a velocipede (fast foot) or a "bone shaker," the brave users of this early contraption were in for a bumpy ride.
While stories about who invented the bicycle often contradict one another, there's one thing that's certain — the very first bicycles were nothing like the ones you see cruising down the street today.
The first documented bike race was held in 1868, May 31 in Parc de Saint Cloud, France, and was won by an English man James Moore riding a solid wooden bike with iron wheels.
He was one of the first stars of cycle racing, dominating competition for many years. Moore covered the 113 km (70 mi) in 10 hours and 25 minutes in 1869, where he won the world's first road race Paris–Rouen.
Fast-forwarding the long history of bicycles we land on today's world with almost 1 billion bicycles out of which 450 million bikes are in China and over 20 million bicycles are riding in the United Kingdom.
And once we have found out that there are a lot of bicycles in the world, and they come from very ancient times and have raced for 152 years, the only question is - how fast can they be now?
Well, 45-year-old American cyclist Denise Mueller-Korenek broke the world speed record (for both men and women) on a bicycle in September 2018, she reached 183,9 miles per hour, that’s 296 km per hour. The record was set on a salt lake in Utah, US. Denise’s chosen cycling discipline – known as motor-paced cycling – is extremely niche and even more dangerous.
‘’The greatest risk, Denise explains, was that her fairing was only 117cms (46ins) wide. Err to the left or right and the inrushing air would have torn her instantly from her bike.’’
But in terms of a standard bicycle, in 2011, Austrian racing cyclist Markus Stöckl drove an ordinary bicycle down the hill of a volcano. He attained the speed of 164.95 km/h!
And speaking of speed, did you know cyclists in Tour de France weren’t allowed to use gears on their bikes till 1937, even though the bike gears were already available many years before that?
The organizer of the race, Henry Desgrange, said at the time: “I still feel that variable gears are only for people over 45. Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your own muscles than the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft, come on fellows! As for me, give me a fixed gear.”
The riders went on a strike later on, because they were regularly beaten on the tough mountain stages by cycling tourists who were allowed to use gears.
Thankfully, they won and now everybody has gears to their bikes. Tour de France is still the most popular cyclist event since 1903 and is still driven each year when cyclists from all over the world take part in a 3 week event that is finished in Paris.
But if you’re not ready for the Tour de France just yet, we got some good news either way- a study held in 2010 states that people who start cycling (for example to work) will lose, on average, 5.8kg or 12.7 pounds in their first year of cycling. In addition to that they will save a lot of money and reduce their carbon footprint. Bicycles save over 238 million gallons of gas every year, and 1 year maintenance cost for a bicycle is over 20 times cheaper than for a single car. Daily 16 kilometer ride (10 miles) burns 360 calories, saves up to 10 euros of budget and saves the environment from 5 kilos of carbon dioxide emissions that are produced by cars.
It truly is a win-win situation!
In addition to that, the moment you swing your leg to make a pedal stroke, you become the most efficient creature on Earth! There is no other thing that can spend so little energy for so much self-powered travel.
If you spend the same amount of energy on your bike as you spend on walking, you’d be going 3 times faster, making the bicycle most efficient vehicle ever.
Bicycles are more efficient in transforming energy to travel than cars, trains, airplanes, boats, and motorcycles, so that means it can be a great way to travel! Well, that's exactly what Fred A. Birchmore thought and went on a trip around the world. He pedaled 25,000 miles and traveled another 15,000 miles by boat. He wore out 7 sets of tires. Quite an adventure, isn't it?
And these are just some of the most significant or interesting facts from cycling history. And thankfully, June 3rd will always remind us to amaze about this two-wheeled miracle each year!
Let us know what you think about this in the comment section and share this with your cycling friends!
And most importantly, happy World Bicycle day!