Time Machine

Cedar Rapids bike races of the late 1800s

Bicycle riders line up in August 1895 for one of the first bicycle races in Cedar Rapids at the West Side Driving Park o
Bicycle riders line up in August 1895 for one of the first bicycle races in Cedar Rapids at the West Side Driving Park on the west end of F Avenue NW. (The History Center)
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By the 1890s, advances in technology had made bicycles safer, lighter and faster.

Cedar Rapids residents saw the proof in 1895 when Annie Londonderry of Boston rode her bicycle through the city on her way to becoming the first woman to bicycle around the world.

The next year, a transcontinental bicycle relay race passed through Cedar Rapids. More than 400 men, women and children participated in delivering a message from San Francisco to New York City in just 13 days. At the time, there was speculation the horse-cavalry would be replaced by bicycle-soldiers.

As more people bought bicycles and practiced riding them, Cedar Rapids began to host bicycle races.

The West Side Driving Park hosted one of the first bicycle races in the city in August 1895 at the West Side Driving Park at the west end of F Avenue NW.

The event included two 1/2-mile races and a 1-mile race, each with a prize of $35 for the winner. The 5-mile race carried a prize of $50.

Tara Templeman is curator at The History Center. Comments: curator@historycenter.org

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