It’s 1892, the bicycle rage has started across Europe and North America. The sport is in such infancy that impassioned discussion still ensues between proponents of the new “safety bicycle” (forerunner of the modern road bike with pneumatic tires and equal size wheels, chain drive, etc) and the traditional riders of the high-wheeler, with it’s one huge wheel and solid rubber or cushion tire (hollow rubber), about superior design and performance. To make a point about the superiority of the new design and, in the wild spirit of adventure that gripped elites with means in the late 19th century, a few brave souls set out on round the world cycling trips. Picture two of them, Sachtelben and Allen, arriving in a small Chinese border city, having crossed Europe, Turkey, and Russia. Everywhere they go (outside of Europe) they are meeting people who’ve never yet seen a bicycle or the Kodak camera equipment that they carry. As they await approval to enter China, waiting in the city of Kuldja (Yining), they stage a race. A bizarre two-mile race against four horsemen for the benefit of three thousand animated citizens. At the sound of the gun, the cyclists took off atop the ancient city walls. The horsemen, who were making comparable loops along the ring road at ground level, bolted ahead and built a comfortable lead after the first mile. By the third lap, however, the charging cyclists had overtaken their rivals, and they sailed to victory amid deafening cheers. So they got their approval to cross China on bicycle.
Want to know more? Pick up a copy of “The Lost Cyclist“.