A new and important book on cycling history has been completed and published in Geelong. Comprised of three volumes, volume one featured above traces the story of cycling from 1869, the year of its effective birth in the colony of Victoria to 1914.

A Whirr of Many Wheels:

Cycling in Geelong 1869 to 1914

by Rod Charles

It is the most comprehensive work yet published on the subject in this country.

Cycling is normally associated with racing, but it has always had strong roots in everyday life, entertainment, tourism, and the workaday world. The book covers all of these topics and more. It is the culmination of 12 years  of compilation using local and Melbourne press reports, all the cycling journals of the time, and hundreds of interviews. We are walking in the shoes of the people of the times and we relive the evolution of the bicycle, now recognised as one of the great inventions of all time.

Volume one is set in the early growth of Geelong, but the same story could fit any town in Australia at the time. People took their cues from the mails received from England, Europe, or America, so the book is a reflection of world cycling in those first decades of a growing cycling world. Moreover, as bicycle riders increased their range of travel, the connection to places outside their own locality made them cosmopolitan in outlook, truly a people of the whole country, knowing no limits. People travelled freely in the colonies and overseas in the 1800s, so the bicycle oiled the wheels of this movement, with Geelong cyclists venturing far and wide, and cyclists from elsewhere, including overseas, visiting Geelong.

Geelong was the gateway to the world though its port on Corio Bay, but it was also the gateway to the western plains, where good road surfaces were made for record making on bicycles, the new iron horses of the day.

Velocipedes, high bicycles, safety machines, better roads, sharing of roads, mechanical innovation, the bicycle trade, women riding, racing, and touring, are just some of the subjects discussed in this volume.

With 600 pages and nearly 600 illustrations, this is an encyclopaedic work which has the potential to become the basic reference for cycling in those formative years.

Two more volumes complete this tour de force of cycling history in Geelong, volume 2 covering the 1920s and 1930, and volume 3 the 1940s to the 1980s.

3 responses to “

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