Category: Bicycles

Bicycling: Not Just For Men Anymore

We’re thrilled to have bestselling author Mary Davis this week. She’s written over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary inspirational romances. Please show her a warm welcome.

 

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.” Susan B. Anthony.

The safety bicycle gave women independence like nothing else. A lady who had a bicycle could go places that were too far to walk without being dependent on a man to either take her or hitch up a buggy for her.

Before 1890 bicycles were more of a novelty and a challenge rather than a legitimate mode of transportation. They were hard to ride, hard to get on, and hard to steer.

The first vehicle that could really be classified as a bicycle was invented in 1817. Also known as a running machine, velocipede, Draisienne, or dandy horse. It had two same-sized wheels and no pedals. A man would straddle it, sitting on the seat, and use his feet to propel himself and the velocipede forward. I say “man” because this was not a machine suitable for ladies in dresses.

The 1863 Velocipede had steel wheels but had the improvement of pedals on the front wheel—direct drive, fixed gear, and a single speed. This version was popularly known as the boneshaker because that’s what it did on the cobblestone roads of the day—shake your bones.

In 1870 came the Ordinary or Penny Farthing also known as the “high wheeler.” That’s the one with the huge front wheel and the tiny back wheel. The inventors realized that a larger wheel meant you could go farther with one revolution. The pedals on the front wheel made steering a challenge because while pushing one pedal and then the next, it could make the front wheel veer one way and then the other. But the solid rubber tires and long spokes made for a much smoother ride than its predecessors. Not only was this one difficult to get up on because it was so high, but the rider was often above the center of gravity. If they hit a rock that stopped the front tire, over they would go onto their head. This is where the term “taking a header” came from. This was the first to be called a bicycle.

Over the next two decades, the inventions of the ball bearings, caliper brakes, chain drive, pneumatic tires, and improvements in metallurgy all contributed to the 1890 safety bicycle. This bicycle most closely resembles the bicycles of today. Two same-sized tires, pedals in the center of the vehicle rather than on a wheel, chain driven, inflatable tires, and a lever hand brake. The chain drive revolutionized the bicycle. With the safety bicycle, women gained an independence like they’d never had before.

Not only women in the cities, but women out west embraced the freedom the bicycle afforded them. Not all women thought bicycles were fitting for women, finding it too brash and unladylike.

In THE DAUGHTER’S PREDICAMENT, Isabelle, the heroine, enjoys the freedom her safety bicycle gives her. Even though some people don’t think it’s appropriate for a young lady and too bold. But each of her suitors are modern men who find her eccentricity endearing.

 

MARY DAVIS is a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She is the author of (Book 1 in the Quilting Circle series), “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in the MISSadventure Brides Collection, “Holly & Ivy”  in A Bouquet of Brides Collection, The Prodigal Daughters series from Love Inspired, and Newlywed Games. Coming in 2019, The Daughter’s Predicament (Book 2 in the Quilting Circle series) and “Bygones” in Thimbles and Threads. She’s a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-four years and two cats. She has three adult children and two incredibly adorable grandchildren.

 

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THE DAUGHTER’S PREDICAMENT (Book 2 in the Quilting Circle series)

Can a patient love win her heart?

   As Isabelle Atwood’s romance prospects are turning in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams. While making a quilt for her own hope chest, Isabelle’s half-sister becomes pregnant out of wedlock and Isabelle–always the unfavored daughter–becomes the family sacrifice to save face. Despite gaining the attention of a handsome rancher, her parents are pressuring her to marry a man of their choosing to rescue her sister’s reputation. A third suitor waits silently in the wings, hoping for his own chance at love.

   Isabelle ends up with three marriage proposals, but this only further confuses her decision. A handsome rancher, a stranger, and an unseen suitor are all waiting for an answer. Isabelle loves her sister, but will she really allow herself to be manipulated into a marriage without love? Will Isabelle capitulate and marry the man her parents wish her to, or will she rebel and marry the man they don’t approve of? Or will the man leaving her secret love poems sweep her off her feet?

Have you or do you enjoy riding a bicycle? Maybe you’ve had a few misadventures. Leave a comment to enter the drawing for one Kindle copy of The Daughter’s Predicament.

 

Oh, the Scandalous Bicycle~Tanya Hanson

Howdy all. Several years ago, I had the time of my life at my publisher’s retreat at the Silver Spur Ranch in Bandera, Texas. It was here I met fellow author Stacey Coverstone. Despite living on opposite coasts, we have been in touch ever since, with our love of horses and grandkids. However, when I searched through my files for a picture of us in Bandera, I discovered that my photos ran mostly with the ranch’s “pet” Longhorns.

But I digress: a few months ago, Stacey invited me to be part of an anthology of romances based on the modes of transportation in the Wild West, and JOURNEY OF THE HEART was born. The multi-author collection released a few days ago, and I’m giving one PDF copy away, so don’t forget to leave a comment and check back tomorrow. Each of the stories takes you on a wonderful ride through the West! I picked the bicycle.

Anyway, next time you go for a bike ride, remind yourself of one more battle our foremothers fought for us. All over America in the 1890’s, bicycle sales boomed, bike trails were blazed, and “wheelmen clubs” sprouted up everywhere. (In fact, two brothers who owned a bike shop in Dayton Ohio started fiddling around with the technology for another project. Orville and Wilbur Wright)

But notice I wrote “wheelMEN.” Indeed, early bicycles were nearly impossible for women to ride, with pedals attached to front wheels as large as five feet in diameter.

But the “safety bicycles” of the late 1870’s bloomed with possibility. The two wheels were the same size,  and a chain drive connected the rear wheel with pedal power.

Of course “real” wheelmen snorted that the new design was for old men and women.

Well, little did they know.

The Safety bicycle helped women assert themselves. Because now, they could get out of the house and around town on their own, manage their own routes and travels. They didn’t need the expense of a horse, or the complication of a buggy. Bicycles became nicknamed “freedom machines” because a woman could leave her own neighborhood easily and all by herself. Oh, the humanity.

In 1896, Susan B. Anthony proclaimed that cycling had done more to emancipate woman than anything else, ever.

So…the scandals began. Not only was the status quo threatened with women broadening their horizons, but they also left their restrictive Victorian garb behind. For shame! Their elaborate clothing—tight corsets, long layers of petticoats and skirts not to mention the occasional hoop, high necks and tight sleeves impeded freedom and movement. So—gasp, “bifurcated” garments and bloomers (loose trousery things gathered at the ankle) burst forth.

But the threat to prim, proper Victorian appearance wasn’t scandal enough. Bicycle riding became virtually immoral. Not only were woman shedding their proscribed roles of dignified femininity, but also, bike riding—gasp—meant spreading the female legs to straddle a saddle (seat). Of course, stimulation and arousal had to be inevitable, men claimed, bringing about a woman’s complete depravity. She would far too easily be led into infidelity or prostitution. As for “maidens,” any peritoneal stimulation (blush) would be painful and cause debilitating “polypoid growths.”

The solution, prescribed by doctors: the “hygienic saddle” with no padding and plenty of open spaces, to prohibit the womanly zone making contact and thereby thwarting orgasm. Furthermore, tall upright handlebars were designed to reduce the angle of her sitting, for the same reason.

The howls of masculine protest didn’t stop there. Rough roads would also damage kidneys and livers, male doctors claimed. Without any doubt (or proof), damp weather and chilly temperatures would most certainly result in miserable and off-kilter menses.

Finally in 1895, the Mississippi Valley Medical Congress caved, and approved cycling as an excellent form of exercise for both genders. The hold-up now—the all-male delegation refused to approve bifurcated garments, although no medical reason could be found.

Hmmm.

All of this lent itself well to my rebellious heroine, Sarah, who had been nicknamed Sorry as a child. (Hence the title “Sorry.”) Raised by her dour minister-uncle and his obedient wife, Sarah has no choice but to search for freedom all her own. Taking on a temporary job in Truckee, California, as a bicycle-riding “messenger boy” for the telegraph office lands her into deep scandal. As well as the arms of our handsome hero Zaccheus, himself a reluctant preacher on a course he didn’t choose.

       How about you? What is the most scandalous thing you’ve ever done? Are you a bike rider? When did you get your first bike? Let me hear from you today.

Many thanks to Stacey and the other authors, Anne Carrole (our visitor last weekend), Melissa Lynne Blue, Debora Dennis, Karen J. Hasley, Linda LaRoque (whom I also met in Bandera) and Jacqui Nelson. We all hope you enjoy our romp through the West.

Here’s the excerpt when Sarah meets Zac.

Her breath came swift from hot lungs as her legs pedaled far and away. Sinews stretched, bones strengthened against the ruts in the road. She was flying, free as a bird. A woman on the loose wearing trousers and earning a respectable wage while doing it. Mercy, she was the luckiest woman alive. Bicycles weren’t nicknamed ‘freedom machines” for nothing!

Even with the looming threat of another Waldo Dellgood lecture, she laughed like a naughty child, Sierra wind on her teeth. Would her uncle even dare use words like virginity? So enraptured was she with freedom, with nature, with dreaming up polite ways to annoy her uncle that she didn’t notice the man in front of her on the road, walking his horse toward the trail to the Donners’ legendary camp. Until it was almost too late.

Oh, dear heavens! Her heart pounded, and nerves thrashed beneath her skin. Would they collide? With a squeal, she jammed her right hand lever to set the spoon brakes, skidded through a generous pile of gravel, screeched to a halt with barely three feet to spare before smacking into him.

Her eyes closed both in relief and mortification as she hopped off her bicycle and caught her breath. “I’m sorry,” she breathed into the wind around them, raised her eyes to his face. A very fine-looking face, truth be told.

“I’m Zac,” he said with a grin and touched the brim of his Stetson.

Confusion rumbled through her. “I meant I’m sorry for nearly colliding with you.”

His mouth opened to reveal a set of startlingly white teeth. For that matter, his face was startlingly handsome. Dark hair, a ruche of curls across his shoulders. Her breath hitched again, but she settled herself. Sarah Rittenhouse did not need a man and would not be turned by a fetching masculine visage.

He held out his hand, and because Mama, Aunt Min, and even the disagreeable Uncle Waldo had drilled good manners into her, she placed hers in it. And sparked to her toes.

His grin widened further. “And I meant that I know you’re Sorry. Sorry the Messenger Boy. I’ve heard of you.”

Anger pounded through her. “Boy? I’m a messenger girl. Woman, thank you very much. And an honorably employed one.” She ground her teeth, eyed him from top to toe and up again. Her heart pittered and she gulped, then flapped the notion away with angry hands at her split skirt. “And you’re a gossipmonger like all the rest. Simply because I’m a female on a bicycle. Which every woman should be allowed to ride free and clear. There is absolutely no threat to my, to my nethers. To think I regretted almost running you down. Good day to you, Zac!”

He gave her a slow smile.

Her breath hitched. When you see him, you’ll know.

No!

With a flounce, Sarah stepped aboard her bicycle, so atremble she nearly lost her balance, and headed to work a full thirty minutes early.

Updated: March 1, 2017 — 7:45 pm

The Alamo Wheelmen

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One of my favorite moments as a writer is when I stop to research some historical possibility and come away with a fascinating discovery. That happened to me just last week.

I’m currently about 1/3 of the way into a new full-length manuscript and instead of my usual cowboy hero, I decided to go in a slightly different direction. Instead of riding a horse, my hero prefers a bicycle. Seeing as how I’m married to a computer nerd and am busy raising two more males of that variety, I thought it was time I showed the world just how hunky and sigh-worthy the atypical romance hero could be.

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdock Mysteries – Great turn of the century Canadian mystery series I’ve been watching on Netflix.

Amos Bledsoe is slim and fit (from all his cycling), has a wonderful sense of humor, is loyal, intelligent, sensitive, and thanks to his great relationship with his sister and mother, insightful when it comes to appreciating a woman’s independence. Yet, his finer qualities are often overlooked because he’s not the rugged outdoorsman with tanned skin and broad shoulders. Even though I love my alpha male heroes, when it comes to a lifetime commitment, I’d much rather have the intelligent, funny, sensitive man than the arrogant, bull-headed fella. So I decided it was past time for me to write one.

Loosely inspired by Detective William Murdoch from the Murdoch Mysteries series, Amos is an avid wheelman. However, when he travels to Harper’s Station to help the heroine, he leaves his velocipede behind. Now, seeing as how Harper’s Station is a women’s colony full of suffrage-minded women, and bicycling in the 1890’s was a great symbol of women’s increasing freedom and independence, I knew my ladies would want to take advantage of Amos’s skills and have him give them a few riding lessons. Only problem was, safety bicycles were still so new at this time, they were terribly expensive. So I needed a way for them to get hold of some used machines. Enter, the Alamo Wheelmen.

alamo-wheelmen-crestalamo-racing-teamThanks to the wonderful website of the Texas Transportation Museum, I discovered that bicycles were not only popular back east, but were in use in Texas as well. The Alamo Wheelmen was a cycling club in San Antonio founded in 1891. It was a chapter of the national organization – League of American Wheelmen – of which my hero was also a member.They had their own racing team and had numerous owners of bicycle shops as members as well. The perfect contact for my hero.

 

Women on BikesSo he used his connections to contact the Alamo group and find a selection of used female-style cycles as well as a more masculine style for himself. And all at a bargain price!

So what do you think?

Can a western hero ride a bicycle instead of a horse?

Do you enjoy a variety of hero types in your romances, or do you have a strong preference for the alpha males?