CHAT ABOUT THE CYCLE. - Organization and Growth of the Bay City Wheelmen. - The San Francisco Call, 02 May 1892

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Organization and Growth of the Bay City Wheelmen.

The San Mateo Picnic Postponed - A Run to Lake Merced - Racers Now in Training.

Just one door below Golden Gate avenue, on Van Ness, the widest and most fashionable thoroughfare in the city, stands an imposing frame structure not without architectural beauty. It is several feet back of the street line and has every outward appearance of being the home of a San Francisco millionaire. But on the big front door, the latchstring of which is always out, there is a plate on which he who runs may read, “The Bay City Wheelmen." Take your wheel in the side entrance and then stroll through the rooms. Elegant are they not? And well worthy of a club which counts among its members many of the best 'cyclists in California. But the Bay City's were not always so luxuriously housed, as a brief review of their history will show.

Captain Doane.

On September 1, 1884, a number of enthusiastic bicycle-riders met at the residence of Edwin Mohrig, formed an organization to be known as the Bay City Wheelmen, and elected the following officers: President, Edwin Mohrig; vice-president, George F. Day; captain, F. R. Cook. From the first the club was successful and its membership rapidly increased, its meetings being held at the residences of various members and the social character of the organization being developed to a degree exceptional with an athletic club. Meetings in private residences becoming inconvenient, the club accepted the invitation of Joseph Little to meet at his store on Golden Gate avenue. After Mr. Little retired from business, in 1885, the club rented the store, and there on February 18, 1886, was organized the California Division of the League of American Wheelmen. In June, 1886, the club moved to 202 McAllister Street, and for a while the boys were content. Early in September, 1890, 13 members of this club, throwing superstition to the winds, formed an organization under the laws of the State, and thus inaugurated an era of prosperity which has not yet reached its zenith. These enterprising men were C. A. Elliot, G. P. Wetmore, R. M. Thompson, F. W. Ray, S. Plummer, J. G. Cox, T. H. Doane, F. R. Cook, W. M. Meeker, T. L. Hill, C. N. Langton, C. W. Hammer and C. C. Moore. At a meeting of the new association on September 27, 1890, all the accounts of the old club were turned over to the incorporated body, and with 48 members the Bay City Wheelmen were born again.

Ten days after securing possession of the association's furniture the clubrooms were moved to 234 Van Ness avenue, which the house committee had fitted up in a very comfortable manner. There recruits began to swell the ranks, a "smoker" was held, followed by a party at Union-square Hall, and in a short time the club had outgrown its new quarters. In June, 1891, the house at the north west corner of Van Ness avenue and Grove street was leased, and refitted in great shape. Here everything seemed perfect, and for several months the members congratulated themselves on the possession of the finest bicycle clubhouse west of Chicago. Then a rival organization moved into a little better place. This may or may not have been the impelling motive, but at any rate the Bay Citys only a few days ago made another move, this time to the splendid home-like clubhouse they now occupy at 519 Van Ness avenue.

The Bay City Club has always been active in promoting races. On Thanksgiving day, 1884, at the Olympic Club games, Fred R. Cook won the mile race and put the record at 3:04, where it stood for a long time. On January 10, 1885, the club gave a tournament at the Mechanics' Pavilion, and on the 27th of the following March the clubs of San Francisco and Oakland united in a joint meet. In May of this year Cook covered 207 1/2 miles in 24 hours, then the best American record. A few days later Cook went to San Jose and made a quarter mile in 37 2-5 seconds, which beat the world's record. In July of the same year another tournament was held to defray the expenses of sending Cook to Springfield, Mass., to compete in the league races. He was disabled by accident, but managed to secure several trophies.

Meantime a club had been formed in Oakland and challenged the Bay Citys to a 50-mile road race. This was run on February 22, 1886, from Gilroy to Menlo Park, and was won by the Bay City team - Messrs. Booth, Elwell and Tittle. The first meet of the California Division, L. A. W., was held on September 9, 1886 - a run to Golden Gate Park and a race meet at the Bay District Park constituting the day's programme. On this occasion several records were lowered by members of the club. A Bay City man won the 25-mile race over the San Leandro triangle on Thanksgiving day, 1886, and in the following spring a team from the club almost beat the world's record in a country run, going to San Jose and return. [June 1, 1890, in a country run from this city to Hollister the Bay City wheelmen went through with 26 men, a greater number from one club than had ever completed a hundred miles in one day in America]. The many other victories won by the Bay City men in more recent races are too well-remembered to need recapitulation.

The present officers of the Bay City Wheelmen are: President, George P. Wetmore; vice-president, Joseph G. Cox; secretary, Horace B. Sperry; financial secretary, Sanford Plummer; treasurer, Frederick R. Cook; captain, Thomas H. Doane.

The first run of the San Francisco Bicycle Club and the Bay City Wheelmen, to which all clubs were invited, was postponed on account of the rain yesterday. However a few of the more enthusiastic wheelmen were on hand, and a run was proposed to Lake Merced. With about 70 wheels in line they moved out the avenue and through the park. All went well until in the vicinity of Lake Honda, where the wheels began to mire down, and it was decided to return home via the beach, where a few pleasant moments were spent in looking over the new house which the Park Commissioners have erected for the convenience of wheelmen and others stopping there. On the way home there was some spurting through the park - Langton, Bliss, Doane, Pixley and Edwards doing some fast work. Late in the afternoon a number of the San Franciscos made a second visit to the park, but spent more time in listening to the music than riding.

Dr. Guisti of the San Franciscos, who went to San Mateo Saturday, expecting to meet the boys, reports a muddy experience and a final ride home on the train.

The postponed picnic will be held next Sunday if Lieutenant Finley don't throw cold water on it again. It is evident that Old Prob doesn't ride a wheel, or that he hasn't seen the good things piled up in the club house waiting to be consumed.

The San Francisco - Garden City relay race will also take place just as soon as good weather is assured.

The Capital City Wheelmen fear that the coming State meet of the L. A. W. on July 4 will have to be postponed or allowed to go through altogether, because a circus has the first right to the Agricultural Park by the terms of the lease, and wants it for the days of the wheelmen's meet. The bicyclists, however, hope to find other grounds. In this connection it may be stated that the finest grounds in the State are those of the Alameda Bicycle and Athletic Club. The new track is now receiving its top dressing, and will be in readiness for the races on the 30th inst. Ives and Foster are already training over this track.

Grant Bell, L. Vidy and Alcayaya, the Stanyan-street team, are in training for the five-mile State championship race to be run at Alameda on May 30. Osen of the Garden City's will also be on hand.

J. Vidy, captain of the Orientals, beat W. L. Hopkins in a mile race on Monday. The odds were 7 to 4 in favor of Hopkins, and the time was 3:20 - out of sight of the record.

The Orientals have challenged the Pacific Road Club for a relay race to San Jose.

Bright and early last Thursday - at 5 o'clock in the morning - the following Alameda wheelmen started for a run to Hayes Canyon: Charley Taber, Fred Linderman, Winn McKean, Clyde Conkey, Fred Brown, M. B. Sneden, W. M. Hunt, M. Bland and Mr. Cederholm. They made the 16 miles, including grades, in about two hours.

A bicycle race will constitute a feature of a picnic at Chico on Friday.

Five business man of this city residing in Berkeley ride to Oakland every morning, stable their wheels and ride back home in the evening. They obtain healthful exercise and combine business with pleasure. Other residents of the suburbs might emulate their example.

Cycling is not confined to the young. A gentleman 83 years old is one of the pupils at the cyclery. Captain Phillips, United States Inspector of Steam Boilers, learned to ride at 60, and on his sixty-first birthday covered 80 miles on his wheel.

The Alameda club will give its first ball on Friday next. During the evening James Oakley will give his first public exhibition of trick riding on a safety. He is a native son and a wonder.

The joke was on Devaney the other day when be walked down Kearny street with a policeman and a stolen wheel which he had found in a pawnshop. Everybody assumed he was under arrest for riding on the sidewalk.

Secretary Cobden of the San Franciscos has taken charge of a new bicycle agency on Market street, and Captain Pixley succeeds him at the old stand.

Despite the popularity of the pneumatic, the reliable arch-cushion continues to gain friends. This tire question is a bone of contention just now, and is deserving of careful consideration.