Bicycle Fever: Peoria Bicycle Races from the 1890s to the 1990s - Softcover

By Steven Streight
PHS100B

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Bicycle Fever: Peoria Bicycle Races from the 1890s to the 1990s - Softcover
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Bicycle Fever traces a history few know: the prominence of Peoria (IL) in the development of the bicycle. "In the 1890s, Peoria was one of four major cities in the world for bicycle races," Steven Streight, author, said. "If you were a hot superstar in bicycle races, you had to prove it in Peoria. If you didn't race in Peoria and win, you were just a braggart."

The book came about in 1990 when Streight was working for Ruppman Marketing Services, whose CEO, Charles Ruppman, was an aficionado of the Proctor Cycling Classic. In association with the Proctor Cycling Classic, he wanted a book written about Peoria bicycle races.

"Peoria was a center of tremendous technological innovation," Streight said. "The book is about the evolution of bicycle technology but in the context of Peoria being the innovator."

Bicycles, like most new technology, were popular with the young.

"There were preachers preaching sermons against bicycles because these young people were going off to who knows where and doing who knows what," Streight said. "Farmers didn't like it because it scared their horses and chickens. People would band together and try to stick sticks in the spokes of the wheels. So some of the bicyclists banded together and started wearing military-type uniforms and formed bicycle gangs for self-protection."

Meanwhile, women resented the all-male bicycle clubs and started their own clubs. Bicycles developed that would accommodate dresses - the girl's bike vs. the boy's bike.

The book has photographs and illustrations from the Peoria Historical Society and the Bradley historical collection.