bicycling

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To finish up Women’s History Month, we present possibly the most badass cyclist ever*, Ms. Kittie Knox.

“Threats have been made by several persons who are opposed to the lady’s color”

According to articles from the July issue of the Bearings cycling magazine, Ms. Knox was a Bostonian and member of the largest national cycling club, the League of American Wheelmen, for many years before attending her first League meet in 1895. This was only one year after the club, bowing to pressure from Southern members, banned membership for African-Americans.

“When she made application at League headquarters for the tickets entitling her to the various privileges accorded League members she was refused [entry], although she presented her league ticket. At several places of entertainment she was also refused admission, she, however, joined in several of the runs and has been doing the best that she could to enjoy herself. Vice-President Geo. A. Perkins says that she must receive all the privileges accorded other League members, or there will be trouble.”

Not only did she attend the meet and demand entry as a qualified member, she also competed (and did quite well) and entered and won a contest for women’s cycling costumes wearing bloomers. At the time there was still an enormous debate over what was “proper” riding attire for ladies, with the conservative opinion demanding skirts, and the practical opinion favoring bloomers or other more “masculine” dress.

Image from v. XI no. 25 of The Bearings.
More about Ms. Knox in this blog post from the League of American Bicyclists and in this article from the Boston Globe.


*personal opinion of the author, does not reflect wider knowledge of bicycling history, but come on…