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Monday, 9 February 2015

Get on ya bike - with typewriter

From the South Australian Chronicle, Adelaide, August 25, 1894
South Australian Rohan Dennis' world record performance of cycling 32.8 miles (52.5km) in an hour at the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, Switzerland, overnight means that in the lifetime of the typewriter, this record has been advanced by just 18.3mph.
The first world record for one hour's cycling was set by Englishman James Moore, riding a then state-of-the-art Eugène Meyer-designed 43-inch French Spider tension-wheel bicycle, using toe-clips, at 14 1/2 miles at the Molineaux Grounds in Wolverhampton on May 31, 1873.
James Moore, in later years, with his racing bike
That same year it took four members of the Middlesex Bicycle Club 14 days to ride from London to John O'Groats, averaging a substantial 49 miles a day to cover a distance of 685 miles.
Australian poet C.J. Dennis (The Sentimental Bloke) used an Empire typewriter.
I haven't yet been able to ascertain whether Dennis, the 24-year-old cyclist who comes from Ashford in Adelaide, is in any way related to our great poet C.J. Dennis, but I do now know that the poet used an Empire typewriter. C.J. Dennis came from Auburn, north of Adelaide.
Typewriting cycling champion Henri Desgrange
What I can say with a large degree of certainty is that Henri Antoine Desgrange, who broke the world one-hour cycling record at a tick over 22mph at the Vélodrome Buffalo in Paris on May 11, 1893, was very much a typewriter user.
Desgrange, born in Paris on January 31, 1865, founded the Tour de France in 1903 and was a pioneering French sports journalist. He set 12 world track cycling records as well as being a tricycle champion in 1893.
In 1897 he became director of the Parc des Princes velodrome and then in December 1903 of France's first permanent indoor track, the Vélodrome d'Hiver, near the Eiffel Tower. He became founding editor of L'Auto-Vélo (later just L'Auto) in 1900. Desgrange died at Beauvallon on August 16, 1940, aged 75.
Henri Desgrange in his office at L'Auto in Paris
Rohan Dennis' achievement extends Australia's long and rich history in cycling. Among the earliest importers of cycles (Bostedo) into this country were American-born Walter Edward Fisher and Canadian-born William Alexander Lingham (1866-1951). These two were also among Australia's leading typewriter sellers at the turn of the 20th century, notably with their agency for Smith Premier machines. As well, Fisher and Lingham of the Victoria Arcade in Sydney advertised L.C.SmithCaligraph, Postal, Junior, Hammond, Sholes Visible, Blickensderfer, New Century, Williams, Sun Visible and Yost typewriters.
Australian Town and Country Journal, April 23, 1887
The finish of the one-mile track race between professionals and amateurs at Moore Park in Sydney (now the Sydney Cricket Ground), Australian Town and Country Journal, Sydney, February 19, 1887.  
Cyclists v Cowboys in London, Australian Town and Country Journal, December 31, 1887


notagain said...

There we go - that's how I use my typewriters and bike - by combining them.

Richard P said...

And I thought I was the first one who'd mounted a typewriter on his handlebars to make a bikecast!

Mr. Dennis looks like quite the fun-loving fop.

Robert Messenger said...

Apparently C.J.Dennis was hamming it up for a series of "comical" pics which are in the archives here. Normally he looked a fairly serious sort of guy.
PS: Meant to add Dennis and his Empire to your list of Writers and Their Typewriters. There's an letter in the archives about him trying to flog it off in 1917 - a bit like Twain?

Gary B.Scot said...

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