Friday, September 8, 2017

San Francisco Call, Volume 73, Number 159, 8 May 1893 - FURIOUS RIDING - 100-mile relay race

San Francisco Call, Volume 73, Number 159, 8 May 1893


The Hundred Mile Relay Bicycle Race. 


A Splendid Record Established for California Which Has Not Been Equaled in the East.

T was a great day for the cyclers yesterday, when the much-talked-of 100-mile relay bicycle race between picked riders from the Bay City Wheelmen of San Francisco and the Acme Athletic Club of Oakland was ridden and won.

Great is the joy in Oakland, for the heavy boys from across the bay took the lightweights from the sandhill city into camp without much fuss or scattering of feathers.

The start was made at 9 A. M. yesterday and at precisely 2:48:51 3-5 P. M. the last rider of the Acme team crossed the finish line completing the relay 100-mile run in the remarkably fast time of 5 hrs. 43 min. 51 3-5 sec, beating the Bay City's finisher just 10 min. 48 2-5 sec.

For some time the race has been the uppermost topic of conversation among the thousands of wheelmen in this city and the surrounding towns. Preparations on an elaborate scale were made for the contest so that there would be no hitch or drawback. It was a certainty that rain would not interfere with the success of the race, as it has often done in other countries when similar attempts have been made to cover long distances in fast time on relay wheels, and an unusual amount of general interest in the event has been stirred up.

The course, as announced already, was from this city around the bay through San Mateo, Menlo Park and San Jose and up the other side of the bay through Alameda County to Oakland — a course which, together with the loop mapped out between San Jose and Santa Clara, measures by actual survey just 100 miles.

The conditions were that a man from each team should start and ride ten miles, at which point they were relieved by another pair similarly selected from tho competing teams, and so on in ten ten-mile relays until the 100 miles were covered.

For some time since the improvements on the bicycle have made themselves felt and the possibilities of the wheel have become more widely appreciated the devotees of this sport in foreign countries have ridden long distance relay races against time. Especially in Germany the capabilities of the wheel as a means of carrying messages in time of war has been considered and tested by the military authorities.

The Wheel and Cycling Trade Review, Volume 8 1891

Mr Joseph Goodman, the well-known Hartford cyclist, is making arrangements to hold a road race which will be a novelty of its kind. It is nothing less than the sending of a message from Hartford to New York by using cyclists as couriers. The will be known as a relay race - that is, two men be started off, and at a certain point in the journey they will be met by two others, who will receive the message and go on to the next stage, where there will be two others waiting and so on to the finish. The race will be started at 7 in the morning of Saturday October 31, when two of Hartford's fastest riders take the message and ride to New Haven, where they will be met by two New Haven men, who will ride Bridgeport. The Bridgeport men will carry the message to Stamford, from which point it will be into Westchester County by W. Van Wagoner. At New Rochelle C. M. Murphy will take the message and carry it to Westchester or thereabouts, where W. F. Murphy will take it and carry it into the city. The men will ride along the old Boston turnpike road. The distance is 126 1/2 miles, and it is expected that will be covered within eight hours.
Among the men who have been named in connection with the race are Captain C. H. Wood, of Hartford Wheel Club; J. K. Brainard, of Meriden, and Captain H. B. Hewitt, of the New Haven Club. Five men have applied for the privilege of the message from New Haven to Norwalk. At South Norwalk the Bridgeport messenger will be by S.C. Seeley, who will deliver the message to W. Van Wagoner at Stamford. Final arrangements will be made to-day.

It would be hard lo pick out a better course than the horseshoe round the bay. The wheelmen were ail satisfied when it was suggested and the proposed contest was open to any club. The spirit of rivalry between the sister cities on either side of the bay developed and it became a question among cycling enthusiasts what clubs should represent the respective burgs.

Faulkner of the Acme Club in Oakland held the 25-mile safety championship for California, having beaten Grant Bell's time. Both are Acme men, and that club contains such riders as Schleuter, Maxwell, Neece and a host of other good ones. The organization has been actually winning races and that meant that the Acmes must Stand for Oakland's honors.

The Bay City's trump cards were such men as Sperry, Foster and Marshall, and the match was arranged. The winning club (the Acme Club, as it turned out) is to receive a $150 silver punch-bowl as a trophy.

At 9 A M. the start was made at the corner of Market street and Grant avenue, William Greer Harrison mining the riders and acting as referee.

Considerable excitement prevailed when the time for starting drew near. A crowd of interested spectators pressed in around the riders as they mounted their wheels ready for the signal.

The judges, L. J. Wolf and A. J. Stormy; the time-keepers, Edwin Mohrig and Allen Marshall for the Bay Citys and F. F. Osborn and H. Faulkner for the Acmes. stood by.

Grant Bell

Grant Bell, the first rider for the Acmes, dressed in the tight-fitting black uniform of the club and on his hat the white acorn and wings, was balanced by T. J. Scanlon. Sperry, for the Bay Citys, took his Place on the right and was held by O. H. Brown.

Their arms trembled on the handles; their feet quivered on the treadles like an impatient racehorse.

The Referee cried "Go!"

The flag had fallen.

They were off.

Sperry, the long, light man drew out ahead and began threading his way up the street, dodging cars with the greased ease that characterizes the flight of a bat in the dark.

A cheer went up for the Bay Citys' chances. Bets were offered by Bay Cltys' backers before the start, with no takers. But now that the Acmes have won every one says that they were heavier men, better racers, and that the result of the race was a foregone conclusion.

The first pair struck off Market street at Ninth and crossed to Howard. Out Howard they flew to Twenty-fourth and thence down the San Bruno road.

100-mile relay race start

Notwithstanding Sperry's good start, Bell reached Sierra Point, the end of the first ten-mile spin, at 9:38 A. M, half a minute ahead of the Bay City man.

Taking the lead at the outset in this fashion, the Acme men were never headed. They increased their advantage steadily until the last relay at San Leandro. On the homestretch from that point they had plenty to spare, and their man did not over-exert himself. There was no necessity for it.

Messages of greeting from Mayor Ellert of this city to Mayor Pardee of Oakland were carried in little leather packets fastened to the wrists of the riders. The relay changes could be made anywhere within 100 yards of either side of the line, so the fresh man in each instance rode alongside the finisher, received the packet without dismounting and broke away on his ten-mile stretch at full speed. This was the method practiced all along the route, and there were no slips or accidents.

Hosts of spectators were distributed along the line of travel, as the participants had been practicing over the roads for some time and had gone down to take their regular places the afternoon before the race.

The second relay at San Mateo Rose (Acme) was 1 min. 45 sec. ahead of Day (Bay City).

At the end of the third relay, Menlo Park, Howard (Acme) was 2 min, ahead of Caldwell (Bay City), the former arriving there at 10:42:20 o'clock.

At the fourth change, Mountain View, Harris (Acme) was 2 min. 48 sec. ahead of Toepke (Bay City), arriving there at 11:16:30 A. M.

At the filth relay, Santa Clara. Neece (Acme) was 3 mln. ahead of Marshall (Bay City), arriving at 11:49 o'clock.

At the end of the sixth relay. San Jose, Sleuter [sic] (Acme) arrived at 12:18 P. M., just 6 mln. ahead of Stoddart (Bay City).

At the end of the seventh stage, Warm Springs. Bedbury (Acme) arrived at 12:51 P. M., 8 1/2 min. ahead of Terrill (Bay City).

For the eighth change, Alvarado, Maxwell (Acme) arrived at 1:38 P. M., 9 min. ahead of Plummer (Bay City).

Sansom was ahead of Melrose at San Leandro, the end of the ninth relay, 13 3/4 minutes.

Then Faulkner, the crack of the Acmes, and Foster, the speediest treadmill of the Bay Citys, took up the running and finished for their clubs.

Faulkner passed Haywards 13 3/4 minutes ahead of Foster, but slacked his pace somewhat, and crossed the tape stretched across Broadway at Eighth street, Oakland, at 2:48:51 3-6 P. M., making the official time consumed by the Acmes in completing the circuit 5 hours, 48 minutes 51 3-5 seconds, which, the enthusiastic wheelmen claim, not only establishes the long-distance relay record for California, but breaks all other records.

Foster arrived 10 minutes 48 2-5 seconds behind Faulkner, completing the distance for the Bay Citys In 5 hours, 59 minutes, 40 seconds.

Wheelmen representing nearly all the clubs for miles around were on hand to witness the finish. A large number of Sunday idlers and pleasure-seekers were also present. Faulkner, when he jumped off from his wheel, was carried on the shoulders of his friends up to the new Acme clubrooms on Twelfth street.

Mr. Harrison announced a few minutes after the finish, "If there are no protests I award the race to the Acme Club of Oakland," and a rousing cheer went up. It was a great race and nobly won.

The following is the message sent by Mayor Ellert to Mayor Pardee, which was duly delivered by this novel bicycle express:

San Franzisco [sic], May 7, 1893. 

Hon. George C. Pardee, Mayor of Oakland City

DEAR sir: To the hands of the fast-moving young gentlemen of the Acme wheelmen of San Francisco, I confide a May morning greeting lo you. Mr. Mayor, the head of the municipal government of Oakland, nearest and most esteemed Neighboring city. 

To the young gentlemen devoted to cycling in the Bay City Club of San Francisco I have intrusted a similar greeting, and the elect representatives of the two organizations leave me with the intention of exerting themselves in friendly rivalry for the pleasure of being the first to reach you with my compliments. Their enemies will also be somewhat stimulated by a decorative and valuable trophy presented to the victors.

l congratulate you, sir, on the fine appearance of the young men from your city, but, pardon the wish (prompted by resident pride) which it would be hypocritical to deny, that my own young fellow-citizens' sturdy limbs may prove sufficiently enduring to give me the honor of wishing you a very good morning through their medium. Yours very sincerely, 

L. R. Ellert.

When it was too late a protest was received by wire against outsiders "pacing" Acme riders — that is riding alongside and setting the pace, but there is no rule against it, and trailers and pacers followed all the riders over the entire course.


Here is a .kmz file containing the map above (from the San Francisco Call, Volume 77, Number 110, 30 March 1895) overlaid in Google Earth. The drawing does not line up perfectly with Google Earth, but I've tweaked it as best I can to give a sense of the route.


Found on

Found on

Found on

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