Author Topic: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)  (Read 497 times)

Andre Jute

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For those who thought cycling suddenly appeared fullblown like Minerva from the helmet of Zeus, here are some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't):

Kirkpatrick Macmillan
1839 Scotland
Kirkpatrick Macmillan invents the first true bicycle.

Eugene Meyer & Pierre Michaux
1861 France
Eugene Meyer and Pierre Michaux invent the chain-driven bicycle.*

These events are listed in
Charles Alan Murray: Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

Murray surveys achievements in various groups, and lists the key achievers, including in the list devoted to Technology these men who made cycling as we know it possible. Of course the others that most serious cyclists know about, for example Charles Goodyear (vulcanisation of rubber, 1839) and Dunlop (the pneumatic rubber tyre, 1887), are also listed, but I'd never heard of Meyer, Michaux or Macmillan before.

If you look into the great men in cycling further, post about it here, or at least leave your links so we can follow up.

*This is a good illustration of the uselessness of the socalled "crowd-sourced encyclopaedia" Wikipedia. A serious researcher like Charles Murray (whose method here is to count mentions in other serious compilations) says the majority of historians credit Meyer and Michaux with the invention of chain transmission for bicycles, yet this truly significant development is not mentioned in the Wikipedia articles on either man.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 10:47:19 PM by Andre Jute »

julk

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2020, 09:33:44 PM »
Andre,
You are very welcome to come to the next KM Rally to visit the village where Kirkpatrick Macmillan made his bicycle and his gravestone stands. It is next to be held at the end of May over the bank holiday weekend 2021. This year is had had to be cancelled.
The rally is run by the Dumfries & Galloway CTC enthusiasts and has 4 days of family/short/medium/long rides with local leaders.
Recommended for the cycling and the companionship, evening meals and entertainment in the local village hall.
Julian.

Andre Jute

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2020, 10:38:33 PM »
Hah! I thought at least some of the many Scottish and Borders members of the forum might know about Kirkpatrick Macmillan, but hadn't quite envisaged a regular, scheduled pilgrimage to his gravestone. Local knowledge is a fine thing!

My most heartfelt thanks for the invitation, Julian, but I doubt I'll be up to travelling that far away from my cardiologist.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 10:49:54 PM by Andre Jute »

PH

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2020, 03:55:26 PM »
The Kirkpatrick Macmillan rally has long been on my to do list, as has touring the Scottish Borders which I've only passed through on an E2E and a couple of Audax.  This was going to be the year, I would now have been halfway through my planned four week tour which would have ended at the KM Rally, oh well maybe next time...

John Saxby

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2020, 05:43:21 PM »
Well done, guys.  Love these nooks and crannies of the two-wheeled universe!

Cheers,  J.

energyman

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2020, 08:21:31 PM »
Personally I'm very very grateful to those gentleman but of course Hengist Pod was an very early inventor of something that resembles a bicycle.
Can't see anybody going to a celebration of GATES who possibly was the inventor of the bicycle belt drive amongst other things ?

Andre Jute

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2020, 11:59:42 PM »
Personally I'm very very grateful to those gentleman but of course Hengist Pod was an very early inventor of something that resembles a bicycle.

Ha! Hengist, the founding king of the Kingdom of Kent, was my ancestor. You hear a lot about Anglo-Saxon Britain, but the Angles and the Saxons were johnny-come-latelies following in the footsteps of the fiercer but few Jutes. The "Anglo-Saxon" British worshipped our (Hengist's and my) common ancestor, Odin the Jute*, until the coming of Christianity. In Hengist's time no one would have made fun of him; indeed, one of his descendants and my ancestor, Erik Bloodsword (in my juvenile siblings' version "Erik the Red, the only Commie in our family") was so irritated by a fat abbot not getting off the road quickly enough when his pack of hunting hounds approached that he chopped up the man and fed him to the hounds. My family, still irate at the insult to Erik's hounds, sacked the abbot's abbey three times between the 9th and 11th centuries. I can ride up the hill on the other side of the river and look down on the ruins of the abbey at the head the bay up which my ancestors sailed to collect tribute from the abbey; for a millennium the clergy would step off the pavement when a member of my family approached lest they suffer the martyred abbot's fate. Horsa, Hengist's brother who died in the pacification of the ingrate Romano-British, is another of whom the descendants of Norman invaders-come-even-later** like to make fun...

*The Danish island of Odense is named for him, as a contraction of Oden's Halle or Odin's Hall, because he lived on it. He was a warrior-poet-singer, basically in his time a philosopher who knew how to defend himself and his people and territory.

**Also relatives: The Normans descended from an earlier wave of "Viking" invaders.

Can't see anybody going to a celebration of GATES who possibly was the inventor of the bicycle belt drive amongst other things ?

Quite. GATES wouldn't qualify under the rules of selection Charles Murray laid down for the construction of his list of 4000+ people who had really important achievements. The Gates Drive belt is only a development of the principle of the bicycle chain, not an earth-shaking novelty. Actually, it's amazing that at least five and possibly six of only 4000-odd people in a narrowly elite list of innovators and geniuses contributed to the development of the bicycle.

These remarks make me wonder if we can truly understand, in these days when a bicycle is a pricey and rather elite indulgence, how important bicycles were in last half of the 19th century when the alternative would be a horse, which would every year in maintenance cost as much as a modern Rolls-Royce -- the car being a one-shot purchase likely to last twenty years with minimal further expenditure, whereas the horse has to be fed and curried and mucked out every day, and then dies, a large, sudden, complete capital depreciation.

leftpoole

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2020, 11:04:09 AM »
For those who thought cycling suddenly appeared fullblown like Minerva from the helmet of Zeus, here are some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't):

Kirkpatrick Macmillan
1839 Scotland
Kirkpatrick Macmillan invents the first true bicycle.

Eugene Meyer & Pierre Michaux

 
1861 France
Eugene Meyer and Pierre Michaux invent the chain-driven bicycle.*

These events are listed in
Charles Alan Murray: Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950

Murray surveys achievements in various groups, and lists the key achievers, including in the list devoted to Technology these men who made cycling as we know it possible. Of course the others that most serious cyclists know about, for example Charles Goodyear (vulcanisation of rubber, 1839) and Dunlop (the pneumatic rubber tyre, 1887), are also listed, but I'd never heard of Meyer, Michaux or Macmillan before.

If you look into the great men in cycling further, post about it here, or at least leave your links so we can follow up.

*This is a good illustration of the uselessness of the socalled "crowd-sourced encyclopaedia" Wikipedia. A serious researcher like Charles Murray (whose method here is to count mentions in other serious compilations) says the majority of historians credit Meyer and Michaux with the invention of chain transmission for bicycles, yet this truly significant development is not mentioned in the Wikipedia articles on either man.

Andre,
Excellent that you should bring all of this to 'our' attention.
But, of course as any true lifelong cyclist will tell you, "we already knew"!
However it is always good to be reminded and there are numerous writings that have not been read.
Thank you for spotting all of these.
I hope your travel around the World has educated you also.
John

PH

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2020, 02:24:00 PM »
Quite. GATES wouldn't qualify under the rules of selection Charles Murray laid down for the construction of his list of 4000+ people who had really important achievements. The Gates Drive belt is only a development of the principle of the bicycle chain, not an earth-shaking novelty. Actually, it's amazing that at least five and possibly six of only 4000-odd people in a narrowly elite list of innovators and geniuses contributed to the development of the bicycle.
As with all such compilations it's very selective, the chain was just as much a development as the belt, both had been around in various forms for thousands of years, that old technology would find it's way into new technology was inevitable, the first to do so may well have moved that forward, but it isn't IMO an invention.
Is James Starley on the list?  Often regarded as the farther of the bicycle industry, mostly for development rather than invention, his bicycle chain probably has more n common with the current ones than any other from that period.  His biggest legacy isn't often seen on cycles today, though is just about universal on motor transport, the differential gear, again not an entirely new idea, though his was still a huge leap forward and taken up by Benz.
There's a fairly resent stone sculpture to his memory on a Sustrans path through a Bristol park.
I'm sure John already Knew  ;D
« Last Edit: May 16, 2020, 02:25:35 PM by PH »

Andre Jute

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2020, 12:32:25 AM »
They do say that travel broadens the mind. So, if you're travelling more slowly, by bicycle, your mind will be more massively broadened.

Murray does say that someone else's method which selects a (slightly) different set of names would be equally valid. But if you think about it, it soon becomes clear that all the lists will broadly agree on the giants, find less agreement about significant figures just below the giants but still obvious, large agreement, and in such a numerically limited list not mention many, many people who had distinguished careers in some field but made no invention that changed its direction.

James Starley isn't mentioned. I will bet money though that he was mentioned in some of the books from which Murray compiled his list, and dropped off the bottom of the list merely for not being mentioned often enough.

leftpoole

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Re: Some GIANTS of CYCLING you've never heard of (at least I haven't)
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2020, 11:11:21 AM »
There's a fairly resent stone sculpture to his memory on a Sustrans path through a Bristol park.
I'm sure John already Knew


Hello,
In actual fact No I did not know.
For two reasons, 1) I never ride Sustrans routes if I can help it, 2) I have not been to Bristol for around 30-35 years!
John