7 things you might not know about cycling

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The interest in cycling has increased immensely over the past decade. It has created its own ‘rock gods’ – including Bradley Wiggins and one of the world’s leading cyclists, Peter Sagan, professional road racer for UCI WorldTeam Bora–hansgrohe. The sport is by no means male dominated; this summer over 150 female riders, including Lizzie Deignan and Katie Archibald, will complete 14 laps of a 3.8 mile London circuit in a day dedicated to celebrating women’s cycling.  These professionals are following in the footsteps of others who had a desire to travel on two wheels – thanks to our friends at hansgrohe for their cycling insight.

1. The Laufmaschine C1817
Two-wheeled human-powered vehicles have been around in a variety of forms for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until German civil servant Baron Karl von Drais designed the Laufmaschine that they then became a viable alternative form of transport. The difference from previous two-wheeled vehicles was the addition of a steering mechanism – although rudimentary, it gave the rider directional control, which in turn had a dramatic effect on balance.

2. Prizes for the Women
In 2016 the Tour de Yorkshire gave women’s cycling a massive boost by offering a first prize for the one-day event that will exceed the men’s winnings for their three-day stage race over the same weekend. The first prize for the women’s Tour de Yorkshire was €20,000 (£15,628).

3. Phone Home
From dirt track stunts to Hollywood stardom, BMX stunt riding had been popular in the US since the 70’s but was virtually unknown in Europe. In 1982 Steven Spielberg asked top rider Bob Haro to perform his BMX stunts in E.T.  This became one of the greatest cinematic influences on cycling ever, encouraging a generation of children to cycle and making BMX a global household name.

4. Safety in Chains
The earliest example known of a rear wheel chain-driven bicycle is in a drawing in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus, c 1493. However, it was not until 1879, that British inventor Henry J Lawson created the first chain-driven bicycle. This was further improved by John Kemp Starley –‘the father of the bicycle industry’ – who created the Rover Safety in 1885. With this single innovation, the modern bicycle was born.

5. Annie Londonderry – Goes Global
Annie Kopchovsky, a 24-year old mother of three, had never ridden a bike until a few days before but then, for a bet, left Boston in 1894 to cycle around the world in less than 18 months. She carried a change of clothes, a pearl-handled pistol and some guide books. Known as ‘Annie Londonderry’ because of sponsorship from the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Co, Annie’s journey took her to Chicago, New York, Paris, Marseilles, Alexandria, Colombo, Singapore, Saigon, Hong Kong, Shanghai and San Francisco, before returning home in under 18 months to claim her $10,000 prize.

6. The Folding Bike
Created by UK engineer Andrew Ritchie, the Brompton folding bike is loved by commuters and urban cyclists alike. Original prototypes were built by Ritchie in his bedroom, where he developed the pivoting rear triangle, allowing the rear wheel to fold underneath and creating a bicycle that packs away small enough to stow on public transport or to be hidden under a desk.

7. The Printed Bike
In 2011 the Bristol Aerospace Innovation Centre created the Airbike – the first fully functioning bicycle to be constructed using a 3D printer.  Even complicated components such as the bottom bracket were printed as a single element, complete with bearings and other moving parts.  Although a prototype, experts predict that production versions of a 3D printed bike will be available within the next decade.