"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

Cyclists Special

This film is from 1955. It depicts, or appears to (I have no idea if it’s all a fantasy), a cycling idyll, during a postwar period in England when the bicycle was a working man’s (and woman’s?) transportation, without intended symbolism or activism.

Sport clothing certainly has changed a great deal.

Avid cyclists will also notice the well-executed double paceline, at the start of the second clip. The announcer mentions that a “hard riding” sport cyclist of the time might be expected to cover 100 miles in a day. That figure hasn’t changed much, and I’m not too surprised. Aside from a major reduction in weight, the addition of more gears, and the removal of fenders the bicycles closely resemble modern ones (in fact, I suspect these bicycles might be a bit more comfortable, if heavier, than their modern equivalents). Then as now, a hard-riding cyclist might well cover 100 miles on a weekend club ride. These bicycles would have been all-steel, made relatively locally, in Birmingham rather than China. Many here are three-speeds; all have fenders.

My one hesitation in posting this film is that probably most of its irony is probably going right over my head. I’m sure David can provide some insight into the accents, the places, and other British detail that is, typically, lost on me.

accents, history, nostalgia

7 comments on “Cyclists Special

  1. Dan Westlake says:

    Lovely! I want to go and live in the olden days…

  2. david galbraith says:

    Perfect, except for the sinister hints of underlying bureaucracy that invaded everything in the UK up until the 80s. Article 3 section 5 of the International Cycling Committee Statute demands that a rubber hook is the preferred way of carrying a bicycle by railway blah blah…

    Despite my personal fondness for bicycles, there is something here that underscores the difference between bankrupt post war Britain and booming America.

    In Britain you have Pathe news style commentary about Enid Blytonites roaming an entire country via bikes and rail, 'these chaps'll be readay if Hitler pops in for a cup of tea and a cream bun' vs… James Dean, Bo Diddley and the 8 cylinder internal combustion engine.

    I liked the line: "HH England , the editor of cycling, knows that cycling without a map is like new potatoes without mint", where an obvious fact is explained by a completely obscure metaphor.

  3. Dan Westlake says:

    a cup of tea and a cream bun' vs… James Dean, Bo Diddley, Macarthyism, Orval Faubus etc…

  4. Jim says:

    Well, the Us in the 1950s was also segregated, racist, sexist, etc. And I'm not so sure those autos, and the Interstate Highway System, were such a boon either, after all. Not that I imagine the UK was so great either, but it's the Other, for me.

    1. david galbraith says:

      When I grew up in the 70s everything in America seemed light years ahead of Europe, now when I look at places like Germany they seem marginally more modern than the US.
      Speaking to people of my parents generation and extrapolating my knowledge of the early 70s, 50s Britain was a generally unremittingly miserable place, bankrupted by WWII, but with a few bright spots such as this sun bleached film suggests.

  5. john chism says:

    These bring back past memories when I was a young fellow. Was in GB and western Europe during this time period. The bicycle and small motorcycle were the way to get around. If going any distance I took the train or a Booth in Germany.

  6. shibata says:

    The habit of riding a bicycle was a common practice in the '80s that influenced the quality of life and hoja is in disuse.

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