sometimes you have to stop and smell the chamois butter

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

death and birth - t.i.c.h.

Kirkpatick Macmillan, a Scottish blacksmith thought to have invented the first pedal bicycle, died on 26 January 1878.  Inspired by a "hobby horse" passing by his shop, he decided he could produce a wheel that didn't require pushing off the ground with the feet.  He set to work and completed his machine around 1839.  Propelled by a set of connecting rods from crank to wheel,  it was set in motion by a horizontal reciprocation of the pedals.  Made from wood and iron, the machine must have been a beast to ride.  Nevertheless, Macmillan mastered his wheel and took regular jaunts around the countryside.  Wanting to expand his exploits, he made a 68 mile journey, that took him the better part of two days.  Upon his arrival in Glascow, a crowd gathered around his wheel.  Macmillan feeling overwhelmed, fled the crowd and knocked down a little girl in the process.  He was hauled off to jail and later released after he explained the situation and payed a five schilling fine. 
He never thought to patent his idea or cared to make any money from it.  So as you can imagine, his idea was copied in 1846 by Gavin Dalzell.  Dalzell blabbed about his invention so much over the next 50 years, that he is widely credited for it's invention.  Kirkpatrick Macmillan was unaffected by his inventions popularity, preferring to spend his days quietly in the countryside.

Francois Faber, the first foreigner to win the Tour de France, was born on 26 January, 1887.  Nicknamed The Giant of Colombes, for his 6'1", 200 lb stature. After several attempts at the Tour de France, he finally came out the victor in 1909.  The 1909 race- dogged by rain, snow, mud, frost and deeply rutted dirt roads-saw 50 riders drop out in six days.  Faber dominated the race, winning five straight stages (a record that still stands today), and appearing to ride better, the worse the weather got.  In his last and most dramatic stage win of the 1909 TDF,  Faber endured riding through potholes and knee-high water before being blown off his bike by wind twice and getting knocked down by a horse.  Finally, approaching the last kilometer, he broke his chain and had to run the final stretch. 
Faber competed in a total of six TDF's, winning 19 stages as well as taking a victory in the 1913 Paris-Roubaix.
He met his untimely death during the first World War, shortly after receiving a letter that his wife had just given birth to his first child.

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