Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Early Days of Cycling

John Howard, an American cyclist, once quipped: “The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.” As an epigram, a wit could have rejoined that “2nd class cycling is better than 1st class walking.” Surprisingly in an era post the advent of bicycles but prior to the arrival of motor vehicles, photos of cyclists are rare; so rare that I only possess two.

If social cycling did not prosper, competitive cycling did with Cycling Clubs soon being formed. From curiosity value in the Penny-Farthing, bicycles evolved into more practical machines.

Main picture: Members of the P.E. Amateur Bicycle Club, which was formed in 1881 and later amalgamated with the Amateur Athletic Club, in front of the Pearson Conservatory in St. Georges Park. A penny-farthing can be seen in the centre. Some of the club’s rides were from the park to Fitch’s at Witteklip which represented a 26 mile ride.

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