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JANUARY 17, 2011
Wheels of Change - Sue Macy
I was absolutely delighted by Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy. Of course there are other books that outline the history of the bicycle but the unique quality of Macy’s is her look at how it changed and shaped the woman’s world in the 1800’s wheeling us right into the present day.
I was surprised to see that our library is the only library that owns this book in the state of Connecticut and that’s a shame as there is a lot to be learned in these pages. History and stories of women and their boneshakers, velocipedes, sidesaddles, tricycles, and tandems are just part of the story. Bicycle fashion, bicycle races, bicycle advertising, women inventors, this book covers it all. There are quotes, tales of prominent women who loved their cycles, and those who thought women would surely go to the devil if they rode. Bicycle songs, bicycle lore, cycling slang, and bicycling magazines fill in, not leaving many gaps. Oh, and did I say, the illustrations are great!
There were so many stories I wanted to share after reading this that’s it’s hard to choose just one.
Annie Get Your Wheel-1892
Sharpshooter Annie Oakley, pictured in the book, gave an interview to Britain’s The Cycle Record about her new bicycle. “I am delighted with my wheel,” she said. “I am equally as fond of it as my horse.”
She went on to make the bike part of her shooting act in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, teaching herself to ride without use of the handlebars and shooting at glass balls thrown in the air. Imagine! this in 1892.
Sue Macy’s portrait of cycling history, as both sport and means of transportation, moving women forward and enacting change, is not to be missed.