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The Bicycle And The Running Horse

The Bicycle And The Running Horse image
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Bicyde races have ïiearly all been held on smal] tracks, the most common sizes being a quarter of a mile and a third of a mile. Ilalf-mile tracks are thought large when they are intended tor the use of wheelmen. Because these sniall tracks had surfaces properly prepared for bicycles and because they were better banked at the turns aivl were more familiar, a queer notion carne to prevail among racing men that the best size of track for wheelmen wasabout one-third of a mile. So the flghting for records went on from year to year on little tracks, althoug'h great gains were made, and the fastest riders did man y things which seemed al most bevond the power of human másele and endurance, people interested in the feals of the cyclists, wlio were not under the influence of the smal] track fetich, kept hoping that soine day the champion racing men would try their speed on large tracks, put in good condition, or, better vet, that they would see what they could do on a straight-a-way course. At last the trial has been made, John S. Johnson, the young Scandinavian rider who formerly lived in Minneapolis and now hails, for racing purposes, from Syarcuse, N. Y., is credited with coveriug a mile in a minute, thirty-five and four-flfths seconds, according to one account, or thiily-üvr and two-fifths according to another. The feat was performed, ii the statements of the time - keepers are reliable, on the boulevard between Buffalo and Tónawauda, N.Y., justoutside of the former city, and it took place Wednesday afternoon. The stretch of road covered is very sinooth, perfectly straight, and it falls somewhat toward the end of the mile. The pacing was done by four fast riders on u machine known as a quardrnplet, a tandem bicycle built for four riders. This record will probably be disputed. It is likely that the fact that the ground was not level will alone prevent the aocepting of the time as that for a regular mile. Many persons will simply refuse to believe that any such rate of speed could be attained under the most favorable circumstances. However this may be, there is no doubt that Johnson has ridden the fastest rnile ever covereil by a bicvclist, and it is quite possible that he has accomplished all that is claimed for him. If that isso, then he has practically duplicated the best time ever made by a running liorse, and execpt Salvator's famous mile over the straight track at Monmouth, ïi. J., in one minute, thirty-five and one-half seconds, made August 28, 1890, there is no record of a mile in as fast time as a minute and thirty-seven second by a running horse. The performance claimed for Johnson is wonderful, but it is not so difflcult to credit as it would be if there had uot been plenty of evidenee all along that the fastest of the cyclist were capable of maintaining speed for a short distance, on small, elliptical tracks, which was far below any mile rate ever i-ecorded. For two years it bas been comrnon to see champion racing men make the last quarter or eighth of a mile at a twominute clip or better, and then spurt out from a field of riders going at that rate, on the home stretch, with a rush which implied something like a mile in a minute and a half, provided it could be kept up. It has been noted, too, by persons who were intelligently iuterested in the development of the speed of both race horses and bicycle riders, that the horses were so much hindered by being driven or ridden over half mile tracks that the dinerene would be found quite as great in the case of bicycle riders whenever the best of the racing men should try their prowess on large or straight tracks. When it was proved that miles could be ridden on tracks two or three laps to the mile in a minute and flfty seconds, it was made certain, in the opinión of shrewd men, that a straight course could be covered in ten seconds less time, at the least hopeful estímate. A long step toward actual demonstration was made in England a few days ago, when two professional eyclists rode a mile, on a straight course, in a minute, forty-one and two-fifths seconds. Neither of tlie men vvlio made that record could hope to hold bis own against the American who is now credited with riding six seconds faster, on a course which sloped somewhat in bis favor, and with a big machine, driven by four men, to cut the air in front of liiin. All conditions eonsidered, we do not see any reason to doubt that Johnson has done all tbat is claimed for him, and it is quite possible that under just the right circumstances some rider will put the straight course record at a minute and thirty seconds, within the next few months. It is evident that the bicycle record, which has come down about twenty seconds already this year, willsoon bewell inside the best time for a mile ever made by a running liorse. Theu there w ill lic nothing left for the wheelmen to conquer except ostriches and greybounds, unless they want to indulge in tlie liopeless pursuit of the locomotive


Old News
Ann Arbor Courier