Police Investigate Cyclists

With the Tour de France currently in full flow it brings to mind that, in the past, cycling races were a popular pastime in and around Bishopthorpe – albeit in a more modest way.  In August 1886, Mr. George Anderson, landlord of the Woodman Inn, promoted a cycling handicap which attracted cyclists from a number of local clubs.  The first two heats were decided earlier in the month and the final race was to be run over a distance of one mile from Tadcaster Road to Bishopthorpe.  However, for some unknown reason, the race started at dusk and one or two competitors were stopped by policemen for not carrying lamps.  Needless to say, some confusion arose.  However, the contest seemed to finish happily enough – probably at the Woodman Inn, where Mr. Anderson presented silver medals to the winners.

Yorkshire Gazette, Saturday, 28 August 1886, p8.

Linda Haywood

One comment on “Police Investigate Cyclists

  1. Graeme Shaw has contacted me with the following interesting observation: “You might be interested to know that this happened in the run up to a very strange period in the history of cycle sport in the UK. With races frequently being interrupted by police officers as described in Linda’s article British Cyclists increasingly participated in handicap races (rather than conventional mass start races), which eventually evolved into time trials (where riders race against the clock one at a time rather than directly against each other). They would regularly race at dawn, dressed all in black, on coded routes that were not generally advertised to try and avoid the attentions of the authorities. The cryptic coding system for time trial routes exists to this day, my closest time trial route is “K2/11.5″.”

    Graeme also tells me that there’s a good summary in this Wikipedia article, which he believes is relatively accurate:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.