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The Cross Canada Cycle Tour Society        December , 2019 Volume 36, Issue #12

President’s Report

December 2019

Alas Goodbye

It is with heavy heart, and I truly mean it, that this will be my last
President’s Report. In writing the post, I was nearly always rushed;
last minute. And occasionally had to be gently nudged by our
Newsbrief editors (I had the pleasure of working with Hans Klein, and
more recently, Alex Laird). Both have been a joy to word-smith for.
As I sat to write, rarely did I suffer writer’s block. There were
generally oodles of topics. But which one? And what to say?
Sometimes I knew, and could hardly wait to begin, e.g., Max’s
passing. (On this occasion I pulled rank when Alex Laird offered to
draft the Club’s eulogy. I convinced him that I owed Max too much
not to do it: I accompanied Max on his iconic Tanzanian tour;
Snorkelled with him off Zanzibar; Cycled with him in the rural
Usambara Mountains; Climbed with him up Kilimanjaro; and Viewed
with him the unforgettable Serengeti. Closer to home; I encouraged
Board members we would be fine to follow Max’s capable hands on
the webmaster tiller. It was Max who came to my rescue when I,
having suffered an ischemic stroke in 2017, “threw his hat in the
ring” to be Vice President in 2019, and President this year. Alas, it
was not to be.) Other times I would tune into CBC 2 or KING FM, and
sit and type – and generally something passable would flow to the
screen (Today’s offering is an example).
There have been many pleasures in being CCCTS President: proudly
guiding this merry troop of women and men through the throes of,
Chapter governance (A great deal of support from Ed Fudge);
encouraging the creation of fiscal incentives for tour, and Hub&Spoke leaders
(Assisted by Bruce Daykin); opening up the creaky, mold-ridden,
heritage fund coffers to allow legacy-fund spending; and then
creating the post of, Director, to guide such spending (Janet Whitehead caught the bug). It has been a joy indeed to work on your behalves.
There have been disappointments: a failure in 2017 to attract a
Treasurer from Club ranks; in December of that year, when no one
stepped up to be President; when one Board member naively,
though with heart-in-the-right-place, suggested the Board take
monthly turns at playing President. Yikes. (There goes democracy out
the window. If an organization can’t elect a president from 600
members, and fortunately our Constitution agrees, maybe we ought
not to be a Society).
But, we persisted. A superb lad stepped forward to be President.
When we had a treasurer deficit early in 2019, Doris Maron, our
current Treasurer, answered our ad; and what a find she was. Not
only is she a crackerjack treasurer, but she is a superb tour leader.
We recently ran another ad for the same position. We received two
respondents. As you know, we’ve had to contract out the
Webmaster task. We needed someone from the Club to give her
support. We cast the line. We received a bite: someone who, truth
be told, could be our Webmaster. He will, for the time being, run
interference for our Webmistress. And again, over dinner, a youngish
lass suggested, it’d be time that I step forward to be a Board
member”. Are you kidding me!? I moved quickly. She will be a great
addition to the Board.
We are, indeed, on a roll. The Club of volunteers is again
volunteering for leadership roles. Yahoo!
Come to the AGM to view, and vote for, the 2020 slate of CCCTS
Board candidates. You’ll be impressed.
The AGM will be back again to the, South Delta Recreation Centre,
1720 56 Street, Delta (Tsawwassen) after a few hiatus. A free lunch
will be served on December 2nd , thanks to the kind and well
organized gals of Tsawwassen, led by Dawn Ens. Catch the buzz of the myriad hub and spokes (thanks hugely to George Zorn), and tours
(Again Bruce Daykin) that will be offered in 2020. What a job your
volunteers have done. Catch the latest on the jersey story from Rick
Borejsza. Savour thirty-six years of touring experience. Hear about
Bruce and Doris’s latest offering. Oh to be 20 years younger.
I hope not to leave the Board; the role of Past President is vacant. I
offer my services.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

 
 
 
 
 

In 1897, Cambridge students lined the streets to protest a vote that would grant women the right to earn a degree at their prestigious all-male university. The budding shitheads of the turn of the century launched rockets, threw eggs, and hanged an effigy of the powerful “New Woman” from a building and subsequently mutilated it in the streets. That “New Woman” was identified by one defining accessory: her bicycle.

The world began to change when women first climbed onto the bicycle. In an era when they were confined to the arena of domesticity, women suddenly had an affordable method of finding independence. Once they did, the worlds of both mobility and social change would never be the same.

Bikes boomed across the world in the 1890s as a breakthrough affordable mode of transportation. They were cheaper (about $3-15) and far easier to use than a horse and buggy ($150 for the horse), let alone a car (easily $750 around the turn of the century). In a time when the average person would earn a weekly salary of $10.06, buying a bike was the first big piece of tech for affordable, personal transportation.

Suddenly, the average person could easily travel out beyond the home.

Women and Bikes

Up until the early 1900s, women were intended to be masters of the domestic sphere, as noted in Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill. They cooked, cleaned, took care of children, and generally did not leave the house unless escorted by the prominent male figure in their life—a husband or a father. That meant no formal involvement in things like business, politics, or education.

But that wasn’t going to last long when there was a simple mode of travel (just hop on, balance, and go) laying around.

With bicycles under their metaphorical belts, early twentieth century women started to be around. In shops. In the streets. In parks. They could no longer be ignored or easily segregated—and they could begin to understand how, exactly, life outside the house was lived. And that meant they could start advocating for themselves.

Fashion and Health

Traditional Victorian dress died as the bike drastically transformed women’s clothing. Imagine trying to ride a bike outfitted in a corset, bustle, and multi-layer full-length skirts. It’s pretty much impossible.

Out went the heavy, impractical clothing and in came bloomers, or, essentially what would happen if you sewed a big skirt into a baggy pair of pants and cinched them at the knee.

 

That was hugely scandalous back then. How dare a woman flaunt her individuated legs and possibly even the shape of her calves! There was even a new “sport corset” that was less restrictive than the traditional corset but also contained a lot of back support—proving that women couldn’t just completely give up certain aspects of the expected dress code.

There are actually a bunch of patents by female inventors dedicated to making cyclewear more comfortable for women. One even included a skirt that came entirely away from the body—which was wild back in an era when that kind of bodily freedom was wholly unacceptable.

The thing about Victorian-era fashion, though, was that it was about more than just practical clothing. It was about morals. Victorians wore so many clothes because it was morally unacceptable to show any part of your body, ever—or even the mere intimation of your body, as evidenced by the bloomers. Before this change in fashion could be embraced, an entire societal shift would need to happen.

What followed was something of a frenzy—accusations that biking was actually very bad for women in many ways, but especially for their health. Bicycling could cause—gasp—physical exhaustion. Doctor A. Shadwell claimed it could cause depression. It was even said biking would cause something called “bicycle face.”

This so-called medical condition appeared in the Literary Digest in 1895 and was characterized by a “usually flushed, but sometimes pale [complexion], often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginning of dark shadows under the eyes, and always with an expression of weariness.” Other sources said bicycle face involved “hard, clenched jaw and bulging eyes.”

 

The aforementioned Dr. Shadwell wrote an entire article about this godforsaken disease in 1897, which you can read here. His logic is… well, I’ll let you see for yourself:

[The effects of bicycling] are not associated with other far more severe forms of exercise, such as football, rowing, running, swimming, gymnastics. They rather resemble the effects of overindulgence in tobacco or alcohol, and are nearly allied to that affection of nervous origin which is called sick-headache.

In bicycle riding it is the very absence of conscious effort, in the ordinary sense, that misleads the susceptible into “excess”, unless they are warned to look out for a different kind of fatigue.

There wasn’t much consensus about bicycle face, given that it wasn’t a real ‘disease’. It was at once a permanent position and a temporary affliction, depending on who you asked.

Bicycle face was very much like hysteria in that it was a very convenient and oftentimes dubious “diagnosis” for unruly women, something that Maya Dusenbery discusses in her book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Sick, Misdiagnosed, and Sick.. These women on their bikes weren’t conforming to the standard that women normally would be by staying home and appropriately dressed, which meant something must be wrong with them.

And, yes—bicycling was said to make women sexually aggressive. Part of that was the physicality of bike riding and the fact that the seat was making close contact with the pelvis. That potential sexual stimulation led to “hygienic” seats—ones that little or no padding where the genitals touched the saddle. The point was to make things so uncomfortable that women couldn’t possibly be aroused. Here’s more from Andrew Denning’s The Fin-de-Siecle World:

 

Traditionalists fulminated against the idea of the bicycle as an instrument that would instigate a sexual awakening, whether personal, as many people expressed trepidation about a woman straddling a bicycle seat and experiencing the shocks and vibrations of the road, or socially, as bicycles gave women the freedom to escape the watchful eyes of parents and chaperones.

Most of these “diagnoses” and uncomfortable changes were quickly phased out. As more women began to ride bikes—and the world wisened up to the objective benefits of bicycling for everyone—the pseudo-science and the technology that was created to fix it disappeared.

Suffragette Movement

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling,” Susan B. Anthony told a reporter in 1896. “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

If you need a concrete example, suffragette Alice Hawkins used her bicycle to ride around from town to town, organizing bicycle clubs and spreading the word about female emancipation. Being able to travel quite literally gave her and other women the ability to do widespread canvassing to get their political point across.

The bicycle, though, often serves as more of a symbol of female emancipation. Bikes weren’t, say, the required mode of transportation for suffragettes. But because they gave women the powers of relative freedom, mobility, and self-reliance, they quickly became associated with the list of things women were demanding to be allowed to do. Bicycling quite literally showed women that they could go out and do the things they’d been prohibited from doing for centuries—and if they could do that, well, what else were women capable of?

Racing and Breaking Records

As with any wheeled contraption, a widespread adoption of biking by men and women alike encouraged everyone to get ready to race and try to set some incredible records.

There was a surprisingly huge interest in women’s bicycle racing because of its accessibility for the general public.

Men’s bicycle races were events. They were six-day long races that lasted a full 24 hours per day. They were feats of human endurance, yes—but they weren’t particularly easy or even enjoyable to watch. Because women were considered far weaker than men, they weren’t allowed to compete in these massive events, as The Guardian reported. Instead, they were allowed two or three hours of racing a day over the course of several days. Ironically, this shortening of the race time stoked a huge interest in following along because you could actually do so—and because it enabled women to push far harder over a shorter period of time, making for far more exciting events.

It’s a fascinating period. Even though these women were defying the gender norms of the time by seriously training as athletes and even becoming the breadwinner for their family, society still demanded they be feminine. For a while, they were expected to compete in hoop skirts.

But these women said hell no to that. They stripped off all of their excess clothing, opting instead for a more form-fitting long-underwear type ensemble because they weren’t able to expose their arms and legs. The media often portrayed them as petty and jealous as opposed to competitive athletes who were taking their task seriously, as reported by Roger Gilles Women on the Move: The Forgotten Era of Women’s Bicycle Racing. Here’s a quote from the book that really highlights it:

Rivalries were chalked up less to competitive fire than to what the men considered to be petty female jealousy. Stoking such jealousy, real or imagined, was at the very least a way to sell newspapers. […]

“Pretty Pearl Keyes,” as she was called by Cleveland World, was just seventeen years old, and this was her first race in competition with Dottie Farnsworth, “whose black eyes and midnight hair are quite a much an attraction as her powers of pedaling—and the propellors for furnishing the same,” said the World. Right away Pearl was said to have it in for Dottie. The reason, claimed the World, had to do with the way Dottie’s “captivating smile” appealed to the men and made her the favorite of the crowd, whose shouts of encouragement were said to rankle deep in Pearl’s heart. “Pearl is some peaches herself in the way of pulchritude,” said the World, “and although she has any number worshipping at her shrine, the plaudits for Dottie make her shiver with rage.”

And then there was Annie Londonderry, the woman who set off on her bicycle to circumnavigate the globe, a trip that took 7,000 miles and fifteen months to complete(albeit with the liberal use of trains and ferries). It exemplified the liberation bicycles offered women, proving to themselves—and to the world—that they could do the seemingly impossible. Londonderry did the trip, according to Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride by Peter Zheultin,to settle a bet in which some men claimed she would be unable to do something that a man had done.

What those students at Cambridge and those false claims doctors were expressing was anger, but also fear. Fear that women, women who smoked, who engaged in politics, who rode bikes, would change the world around them. The fear of seeing women enjoying the “free, untrammeled womanhood” that Susan B. Anthony claimed to feel any time she saw a woman on a bike.

They were right to be afraid. The moment women took off on two wheels, the world as they knew it was never the same.

Video Corner

 

Upcoming Tours

  • 2020 Croatia
    Status: Ride is full, wait list only.
    Dates: Wed, 20 May 2020 ‐‐ Tue, 2 Jun 2020
  • 2020 OKANAGAN TOUR
    Status: Ride is full, wait list only.
    Dates: Thu, 11 Jun 2020 ‐‐ Sun, 21 Jun 2020
  • 2020 Arizona
    Status: 1 slots are available.
    Dates: Thu, 19 Mar 2020 ‐‐ Sat, 28 Mar 2020

    Spring break in the sunny high country of south-east Arizona.

Upcoming Hub and Spokes

  • 2020 Victoria Hub & Spoke
    Status: No registration limit
    Dates: Mon, 14 Sep 2020 ‐‐ Fri, 18 Sep 2020

    Greater Victoria offers something for everyone. The four days of rides vary widely in distance, difficulty and diversity and are sure to satisfy all. Each day will offer distances from fewer than 40 km to perhaps 100 km. Each ride will have a leader & a sweep. Day rides will include the famous Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails plus others, as well as mostly low-traffic roads with good shoulders. Along the way, there will be water vistas and accesses, forests & fields, historical and contemporary points of interest.

  • 2020 May Shuswap Hub & Spoke
    Status: Registration closed
    Dates: Mon, 18 May 2020 ‐‐ Fri, 22 May 2020

    Welcome to the beautiful and diverse landscapes of the Shuswap – North Okanagan! Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature as you explore on your bike some of over 1500 kilometers of paved back roads in the area. Along each day’s cycling route we can enjoy short walks, visits to local wineries, swimming beaches, bird watching “hot spots”, scenic view points and cycle-friendly local cafes. Our hub for the week’s rides will be at Sorrento Centre on Shuswap Lake, 35K northwest of Salmon Arm via Highway 1.

  • 2020 Oceanside 2 Hub and Spoke
    Status: Ride is full, wait list only.
    Dates: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 ‐‐ Tue, 21 Jan 2020

    This 7-day hub and spoke is centred in the Southern California City of Oceanside, approximately 35 miles north of San Diego. Oceanside offers many bike routes north (into Orange County), east, and south (San Diego County). We will explore all these directions. We will do out and back rides, loops, and 1-ways using public transportation (commuter trains/light rail). Seniors can purchase inexpensive ½ price tickets. We will split into 2 groups each day to facilitate better group control and sometimes to accommodate public transit.  Each group will have a Ride Leader and a Ride Sweep. Rides will include coffee and lunch stops. You can buy or bring your lunch.

  • 2020 June Shuswap – North Okanagan Hub & Spoke
    Status: Ride is full, wait list only.
    Dates: Mon, 22 Jun 2020 ‐‐ Fri, 26 Jun 2020

    Welcome to the beautiful and diverse landscapes of the Shuswap – North Okanagan! Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature as you explore on your bike some of over 1500 kilometers of paved back roads in the area. Along each day’s cycling route we can enjoy short walks, visits to local wineries, swimming beaches, bird watching “hot spots”, scenic view points and cycle-friendly local cafes. Our hub for the week’s rides will be at Sorrento Centre on Shuswap Lake, 35K northwest of Salmon Arm via Highway 1.

  • 2020 Chilliwack Hub & Spoke
    Status: Ride is full, wait list only.
    Dates: Mon, 1 Jun 2020 ‐‐ Fri, 5 Jun 2020

    This Hub and Spoke will give all club members an opportunity to explore the less-ridden, eastern half of the lower Fraser Valley: specifically Harrison Hot Springs, the amazing, little-known Quintette Tunnels at Othello (remote start), upper Chilliwack River, Chilliwack marshes along the Fraser, historic Clayburn Village, Bridal Veil Falls and more.

  • 2020 B.C. Southern Gulf Islands Hub & Spoke
    Status: Lottery running now
    Dates: Mon, 31 Aug 2020 ‐‐ Thu, 3 Sep 2020

    The Southern Gulf Islands are perhaps best known for their artists, wineries, fromageries and farms, as well as for their natural beauty. The islands and surrounding ocean are rich with ecologically diverse plants and sea life including Garry oaks, wild lilies, kelp beds and Orcas. We’ll explore Pender Island (our hub), Mayne Island and Galiano Island: cycling and walking “on island time”.

  • 2020 Oceanside Hub & Spoke
    Status: Ride is full, wait list only.
    Dates: Tue, 7 Jan 2020 ‐‐ Mon, 13 Jan 2020

    This 7-day hub and spoke is centred in the Southern California City of Oceanside, approximately 35 miles north of San Diego. Oceanside offers many bike routes north (into Orange County), east, and south (San Diego County). We will explore all these directions. We will do out and back rides, loops, and 1-ways using public transportation (commuter trains/light rail). Seniors can purchase inexpensive ½ price tickets. We will split into 2 groups each day to facilitate better group control and sometimes to accommodate public transit. Rides will include coffee and lunch stops. You can buy or bring your lunch.

New Members

first_name last_name city province
Robyn Cyr Sorrento BC
Judith Hanebury Calgary AB
Laurie Cole Kelowna BC
Ken Rogers Victoria BC
Clayton Fuller Qualicum Beach BC
Dan Rolfe Ottawa ON
 

Published at least ten times a year by The Cross Canada Cycle Tour Society, a non – profit organization for retired people and others who enjoy recreational cycling. 

Items for the NEWSBRIEF must be received by the 28th of the month. The Editor reserves the right to edit for clarity, brevity and suitability of publication. The views expressed in the “NEWSBRIEF” are not necessarily those of the CCCTS or the Editor.

Submissions for NEWSBRIEF should be emailed to alaird212@gmail.com

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