Fringe Box



The Way We Were… Cycling in the 1920s – Part 2

Published on: 19 Nov, 2013
Updated on: 19 Nov, 2013

Today the health benefits of cycling are frequently publicised and anyone who, like me, has puffed up a few of our local gradients certainly hopes it is doing them some good.

But there is nothing new in realising that cycling can help keep us healthy, but they most certainly had a different way of expressing things in the 1920s.

In this second article on cycling in that “roaring” decade, more extracts are reprinted from “The Modern Cyclist 1923″.  Martin Giles

Cycling for the unsound [this, verbatim, is the section heading]

The front cover of The Modern Cyclist 1923

The front cover of The Modern Cyclist 1923

“Cycling is quite a successful treatment for a much larger number of ailments than is generally realised. It is, unfortunately, not often prescribed by doctors, most of whom are now motorists – partly by the necessity of time-saving, and partly for social “swank”.

“If you bicycle is dear to you, and your doctor tells you that you must give it up, do not rest until you have found another who is also a cyclist; then abide by his decision.

“The younger end of doctors today have no experience of cycling, and are, therefore, not qualified to give an opinion, while the older end have no experience of modern machines, and may allow their judgement to be warped by memories of machines which involved too much physical labour.

“In cases of heart weakness, nothing but good can come from the sensible use of a good bicycle with a low gear, if no attempt is made to climb steep hills. But where there is organic disease of the heart there must be no cycling until an expert – preferably a cyclist – has pronounced judgement.

“Women with weak hearts should not cycle at all unless they are prepared to adopt the light masculine machine and a suitable dress.

“Varicose veins in the legs, when they are of the usual kind resulting from loss of elasticity in the walls, and are not due to pressure elsewhere, can be cured by intelligent cycling, and often are.

“All forms of rheumatic pain, whether merely called rheumatism or disguised under fancy names like gout and lumbago, find an enemy in the bicycle. All these are manifestations of indigestion.

“The bicycle will not prevent these ailments in those unintelligent people who habitually eat too much, too often or too fast; but cycling facilitates good digestion, and when pushed to the extent of slight perspiration it helps to get of rheumatic agents through the pores of the skin.

“From time to time I come across people who suggest that haemorrhoids or piles are “caused by cycling”. There is not a shred of truth in it. They are caused by constipation and rich blood.

“Mild cases can be beneficially treated by cycling so long as the saddle is kept properly adjusted, or one of the saddles used which are specially designed to prevent the cyclist from sitting on his pubic arch… Bad cases can only be cured by an operation, and is quite successful when done by a good man I know.

“It must also be noted that piles can be very seriously irritated and aggravated by careless cycling.

Hello darling. How are the haemorrhoids today?

Hello darling. How are the haemorrhoids?

“These remarks apply also to urethral, prostatic, or bladder trouble; and additional care should be taken in these cases that the peak does not point upwards, and that the rider sits almost upright. [I think we get the point.]

“For insomnia, and many other forms of nervous disorder, it need hardly be said that cycling is a sovereign remedy.” [It’s pretty good for narcolepsy too.]

Next week we will look at… luggage… bet you can’t wait!

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *