PUT…THE GUN…BACK…IN…THE PANNIER…
(disclaimer: Brian and I do not like guns. Got that? Good. That said…)
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to spend a week working at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Lots of gems in there that, believe it or not, are pretty relevant to us cyclists. And some that are just thought-provoking.
Then there’s this – a combination of both.
I give you, the J. Stevens Arms and Tool Co. Bicycle Rifle. c1880.
A bicycle rifle?
A bicycle rifle!
This beauty (damn you, J. Stevens Arms and Tool Company for making such a fetish item that it makes me question my dislike of firearms) caught my eye for obvious reasons. My mind began to wander as to the context which brought about a bicycle rifle. If there are any cycling history scholars out there, enlighten us as to the specifics. We’d love to know.
But a layman’s history of American cycling accounts for a phenomenal explosion in the popularity of cycling during the 1800’s, with a heyday in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Bicycles were, for the first time, popular, affordable (although in 1880 it would cost approximately 6 months wages – seems every bike was like a Vanilla then) and brought flexibility for both work and pleasure. Bicycling was so widespread that in 1890 that cyclists formed the League of American Wheelmen who lobbied for better roads, literally paving the road for the automobile.
Add to that the fact that the wild west spirit was still alive and kicking in America. Guns were commonplace. Manufacturers needed a way to compete in an increasingly-crowded marketplace. It’s not hard to imagine some (handlebar mustachioed, top-hatted) young spark in R&D saying “We’ve done guns for horseback riding, why not guns for these new bi-cycle-thingies!”
Hell, I know I’d have proposed it. And Brian would’ve concepted an entire integrated ad campaign for them (ads for newspapers, telegraph, painted barns and town criers) and they would’ve sold by the millions.
But back to the present. We at 18milesperhour do not, in any way, condone cyclists – or anyone, for that matter - carrying guns. Because there are too many occasions when some driver nearly kills you out there on the road and it’s all too easy to imagine reaching back into the saddlebag and swinging this fella around and…
No. Must stop thinking about that.
- Brian Cassidy and the Sundance Rhys.