HEARTS OF LIONS: The History of American Bicycle Racing by Peter Nye

HEARTS OF LIONS: The History of American Bicycle Racing

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A rousing, rollicking history--with an introduction by Eric Heiden--of the once-triumphant sport of American bicycle racing; by free-lancer Nye, himself a racing enthusiast. Nye is clearly in awe of the old towering figures of the sport whom he tracks down in order to unravel the story of America's forgotten dominance in the early part of this century. And with good reason: these are Olympians among athletes, who routinely biked the six-day race circuit all across the country. Anyone who enjoyed the recent Olympic high jinks of the speed-skaters rounding turns can imagine the same rough-and-tumble that surrounded the sport of cycling in the velodromes (wooden oval tracks built especially for bikes) that dotted the land. Nye reveals all sorts of biking trivia that once loomed large in the nation's consciousness: how Major Taylor became America's first black athlete to capture a major championship in professional sports, in 1899; how the grueling nature of the six-day races prompted the N.Y. State Legislature to pass a law in 1808 forbidding any biker to ride more than 12 hours a day; how, in 1911, when Ty Cobb was holding out all winter to increase his salary from $4,500 to $10,000, cyclist Frank Kramer was already earning more than $20,000. But there is also a sad story, outlining the lean years of the 1940's through 1984, when the cycling world was dominated by Europeans, until the American gold-burst of the 1984 Olympics, when nine biking gold medals were won by Yanks. Nye ends his history with the ascent of the American Greg LeMond. A labor of love told with as fast a pace as a speeding cyclist. Some 50 action photographs help to chronicle this saga.

Pub Date: May 30th, 1988
Publisher: Norton