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 The Penny-Farthing Hour Record
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Feargal

Ireland
1 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2018 :  08:23:40  Show Profile  Visit Feargal's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Wheelmen,

Hope you don't mind me popping in, but I'd like to pick your brains, if I may.

Most of you, I'm sure, are familiar with the Hour record, the greatest distance covered in sixty minutes, on a bike, in a velodrome.

It recently came to my attention that some were claiming that the record for the furthest ridden in an Hour on an ordinary/high-wheeler was set in 1892 by an English rider, FJ Osmond, on the Herne Hill track in London. Upon checking this, I found Osmond had actually been riding a safety of his own design, a Whitworth, geared to sixty-eight inches.

Who did set the record then? This is where I want some help. My research says it was the American rider William A Rowe. In 1886, at the Hampden Park track in Springfield, Massachusetts, he covered a distance of 22 miles and 150 yards (35.543 kms) on a 55-inch Columbia Racer, with pacing provided by other members of what would have then been the Columbia racing 'team'.

(One of the things that makes this story interesting (and, I have to say, fun) is that the British tried to ignore Rowe's record, pretending it hadn't happened. And appear to be still ignoring it today, with their erroneous claim in favour of Osmond. There's quite a lot of back and forth in the press of the time - banter I think we'd call it - with the main object of American ire being the Herne Hill promoter George Hillier.)

Is anyone here aware of anyone who has bettered that distance, preferably in an official Hour record? (If you are aware of anyone unofficially bettering it, I'd be interested to hear about that too.)

I have written up and published my research here:
https://www.podiumcafe.com/book-corner/2018/1/30/16951728/penny-farthing-hour-record

This brings me to the second item I would like to pick your brains on: does anyone know what became of Rowe? His career as a record-breaker lasted just two years, 1885 and 1886, there then followed a couple of years of cashing in, and then he more or less disappears from the sources I have access to, reappearing briefly in the second half of the 1890s before disappearing again. If anyone is aware of any more information on him, it would be warmly welcomed.

The third item is the actual last Hour record set on an ordinary. I have an English rider, Bertram Waller Attlee, setting an amateur English record (below Rowe's distance) in 1891 on a Humber ordinary - is anyone aware of a later national record for anywhere else?

Finally, if there is anything in the published research that you disagree with - if I have made any egregious errors with regard to, say, the weight of Rowe's bike or its construction - please do feel free to contact me and offer corrections.

Thanks for your time.

Edited by - Feargal on 02/08/2018 08:28:13
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