The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s
64. "The Philosophy of the Bicycle"
Still with the Clarion, 11 May 1895, this - unsigned - piece seems to be by Edward Fay (aka The Bounder). It's quite long and some of the esoteric humour is likely to be lost on us (spelling words normally beginning with C with a K is the sort of thing that tends to lose its impact after 12 years), so I've just picked out some bits that give the flavour of the thing – and left the rest out. Here's how it starts:
Is the Bicycle possessed of a devil? Not that I would speak disrespectfully of the Devil, who has not yet revealed himself to me. But if the Devil is as black as he is painted by the Fathers, then the Bicycle must be an invention of his. There is no other way.
Learned kommentators on the Bicycle have omitted to mention the primary element, aspect, and feature of Bicycle riding. It is a way the learned kommentators have. A krew of inflexible cocksure perishers, who cannot komment for knuts - and plentyof them.
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The great essential advantage of riding as bicycle is this, you become another person. Like Bottom, you are translated - and plenty of it
* * * * *
Once you have acquired a seat on an iron steed, you are another person. Your range of vision is entirely altered, and you see "things" from a diametrically different point of view. In a couple of days your individuality is changed. Where formerly you inveighed against the wheel, you now curse the pedestrians.
A very long description then follows of a ride through central London with Whiffly featuring an amazing sequence of misadventures. Next time I will give some extracts from it which give, I think, a really good idea of what riding a bike in London must have been like at that time
Next time "The Philosophy of the Bicycle" concluded