Monday, October 15, 2012

Bicycle Races and Cycling Craze 1890s Erie PA

-ad in Erie Daily Times, August 15, 1896.
Cycling was huge in the 1890s, not only in Erie, PA, but across the entire country. Six thousand cyclists attended the meeting of the State League of American Wheelmen on September 9, 1895, and the group paraded through town as part of Erie's centennial celebration. Bicycle races were held at Reed's track.

The Erie Wanderers' Cycle Club, the local affiliate of the League of American Wheelmen, organized on Sept. 4, 1890. EWCC had a clubhouse at 925 French Street in Erie. Otto Maya was the 2nd lieutenant of the club in 1895. Other members at that time included President J. P. O'Brien, Vice President S. D. White, Recording Secretary Charles A. Mertens, Financial Secretary Charles L. Siegel, Treasurer William C. Brehm, Captain H. D. Fenno, First Lieutenant A. H. Baumann, Color Bearer George Knapp and Bugler N. C. Illig.

The competing club- the West Side Cycling Club- met at 506 Walnut Street. WSSC members in 1896 included: Jacob Hammer, J. C. Tabb, Jr., G. H. Forrester, Jacob Mauer, H. Leuschen, D. Habercorn, E. Weisman, F. H. Tufts, Charles Boyd, A. D. Redman, William Strick, E. G. Mischler and D. Bordollo.

A National Circuit Race was held in Erie, PA on August 18, 1896. The Morgan & Wright racing team,  which included the top cyclists from all over the United States, stayed at the Reed House on North Park Row the night before the big race. Ninety riders participated in the fifteen mile Koster Road Race, which started at 26th and Peach Street. William Kaiser, of the WSSC, won the race with a time of 42:11.5 minutes. "The course was in elegant condition, but there were numerous spills and accidents...The scratch men took an awful fall at Cochran street, five of them going down in a bunch." -Erie Daily Times, Aug. 18, 1896.

Erie rider Charles Moomy was declared a professional prior to the Koster race and was therefore disqualified. Only 31 riders finished the August 18th road race. Other regional riders included: Charles Gierke, Herman Garnow, A. P. Simons, W. Boyer, H. D. Fenno, J. Mason, Harry N. Link, Ed. McClelland, J. W. Disbrew, A. R. Neff, A. L. Baumann, C. I. Buman, P. Cunningham, C. Siegel, Charles Gruber, T. Lewelyn, William Baxter, J. Seibert, L. H. Gaither, E. A. Austin, Fred Link, Clint Watson, Peter W. Loffi, F. C. Williams, D. S. Kennedy, William P. Minnig, Charles S. Hooper, Lewis W. Wallace, J. C. Mowery, Frank Houck, A. D. Beckman, E. L. Ensign, Harry Post, C. N. Tyler, William Kaiser, W. P., McClellan, R. T. Nolan, W. H. Knoblock, Joseph C. Baumann, F. Hickox (of Swanville), G. H. McLaughlin, J. A. Ray, E. Stuhlfant, Thomas A. Stidfole, Charles N. Gross, J. H. Phillips, A. R. Zautner, L. Beckman, Thomas Purcell and George R. Aitken.

A series of races held at the Erie Wanderers' Cycle Club track on August 19, 1896 drew a crowd of 4,000. The biggest attraction of the day was the one mile City Championship Race in which Archie LeJeal placed first, followed by Otto Maya. It was announced the next day that Otto Maya would replace Eddie Bald on the Barnes team. Maya was expected to race in Rochester, NY on August 22, 1896. Maya went on to become a nationally-known superstar of the cycling circuit. (Maya died in 1930 and was buried in Trinity Cemetery in Millcreek Township, Erie County, PA.)

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