More than 100 years ago, "bicycle riders and racers, were filled with excitement over an event to take place at the Pleasure Park, a newly built horseracing track with grandstand one mile north of Westminster on the road to Littlestown."
That property is now know as Carroll County Regional Airport.
Thanks to research for the Historical Society of Carroll County by historian Mary Ann Ashcraft, we know that on June 25, 1898, the now-defunct American Sentinel wrote that "Thursday, the 30th day of June, will be the greatest day among cyclists in Carroll County that has ever occurred in its history.
"The great Bicycle Race Meet under the supervision of the Cycling Ramblers of Westminster, the third oldest club of its character in the State… Carroll County has between four and five thousand riders in the race…
"Every place of business in Westminster will promptly close at 12 o'clock noon on the day of the meet, and the city will be put in holiday attire in honor of the event."
The Cycling Ramblers had 15 "uniformed members" in 1887 and according to historian Jay Graybeal, "was organized like a militia company of its day…"
According to an article in the now out-of-print April 1896 Democratic Advocate, bicycling was considered dangerous:
"The Bicycle is a foreign invention. ... Those sky-scrapers, with one large wheel and a little one behind, with the riders up in the clouds, were of English invention, and were first imported in this country about twenty years ago... (They are) dangerous, and yet their use (is) spreading."
As a matter of fact on Aug. 28, 1897, the American Sentinel reported, "Mr. G. W. Yeiser, of Union Mills, while returning from the Granger's picnic at Williams Grove, Pa., on his bicycle, about 8 o'clock, Wednesday evening, collided with a two horse buggy, on the Littlestown turnpike, near LeFevre's Station and was knocked insensible into the ditch by the roadside …"
One of my passions for July, besides thoroughly enjoying the heat, is the Tour de France. This year, June 30 was one of my greatest days of summer.
That was the day that the 99th Tour de France began with the "prologue" event. What follows, until July 22, is a tour of France's picturesque and agriculturally dominated countryside, in 20 stages that will cover 3,497 kilometers.
Meanwhile, according to research by Graybeal, several years before the Tour de France, the Sept. 4, 1897, issue of the Westminster American Sentinel stated, "We are informed on good authority that the largest century run ever starting from this county will shortly be called. The route will be from Westminster to Wrightsville, Pa., on the banks of the Susquehanna, and return, a distance of 104 miles. It ought to be patronized by a great many ladies as well as gentlemen."
When he's not "knocked insensible into the ditch" or dressed in holiday attire in honor of the Tour de France and yelling at the TV in broken French, "Viva la bicyclette," Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at email@example.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun