George Loring Cunningham
Bicycle Propulsion. - On Saturday, a young gentleman named G. L. Cunningham, rode from this city to San Jose on an English bicycle. The time made was twelve hours and forty-five minutes. The distance made was fifty-one-miles. He claims to have mads several stoppages, and puts down his riding time as seven hours, which would average his travel at about seven and one-half miles per hour. The road, though dusty at times, he reports in fair condition. He did not show any signs of exhaustion from his effort.
G. L. Cunningham, a young gentleman of San Francisco, left that place Saturday morning at 6:30 o'clock, mounted on an English bicycle, and arrived at the Auzerais House at 7:15 o'clock in the evening. This makes the whole time, 12 hours and 45 minutes. He made several stoppages, and the running time is put down at seven hours. The rate of travel was seven and one-half miles an hour. The road, though dusty in many places, was in very fair condition. Mr. Cunningham did not appear to be much exhausted by the effort. He claims that the bicycle is a vast improvement over the old-style velocipede, and that the former can be ridden with but little exertion.
Yesterday morning, by invitation of Loring Cunningham, a grand meet took place on the Point Lobos road, at which all the bicycles in the city, together with their owners, by whom they were ridden, were present. The object of the gathering was merely for practice, and for the encouragement and better promotion of the sport. The names of the gentleman, comprising eleven riders, who participated are as follows: Loring Cunningham, W. G. Barrett, R. de Clermont [de Clairmont] and two sons, James J. Searle, George Searle, George Strong, J. B. Golly, W. B. Land and M. Allen. The start was made at 8 o'clock from the old toll-gate, and the party rode leisurely, two by two, along the road to the Cliff House. One or two inexperienced riders were obliged to dismount and walk up the hill, but the others kept their saddles, and in some instances displayed much grace and skill in managing their automatic steeds, executing many rapid and difficult curves and evolutions. The time to the Cliff, a distance of some three and a half miles, was twenty minutes. Here the party, after partaking of a lunch, resolved to form themselves into a bicycle club, and organized temporarily by electing Loring Cunningham President and W. G. Barrett Secretary. A few of the experts then tried a ride along the sandy Ocean beach by way of experiment, but found the tide was too high to permit for that sort of amusement, and so, shortly after 10 o'clock, the bicycle cavalcade set out to return home, stopping at the half-mile track with the intention of trying a brush, but owing to its heavy condition no note of the time was taken. The best long run on record was made in England - 223 miles in less than twenty-four hours, allowing for stoppages. Mr. Cunningham, one of the local experts, some two months since made a run of fifty-two miles from this city to San Jose in seven hours, exclusive of halts by the wayside, and this is the only long run of any note performed in San Francisco.
During the first four years of the San Francisco Club's existence Ralph de Clairmont was its President, and during the first three years G. Loring Cunningham was the Captain, succeeded by Herman C. Eggers in the fourth year. Columbus Waterhouse [obituary - MF] has held the office of President for the last five years, and during that time the successive list of Captains is composed of Herman C. Eggers, Charles A. Butler, Henry London, Herman C. Eggers and Harry G. Greene.
First in point of age among existing organizations of wheelmen in the United States is the San Francisco Bicycle Club, which was formed on December 13, 1878. The charter members were: Ralph de Clairmont, George H. Strong, ex-Governor George C. Perkins, Howard B. Land, John B. Golly, William M. Fuller, G. L. Cunningham, Fred G. Blinn and C. L. Barnett. At that time bicycles were not allowed in Golden Gate Park; but the club prevailed on the commissioners to permit its members to enter the park at Stanyan street and ride on the south drive as far as Strawberry Hill before 10 o'clock in the forenoon and after 5 o'clock in the afternoon.
CHAT ABOUT THE CYCLE. - The San Francisco Club and What It Has Done. - Results of Yesterday's Races - The Coming League Meet - Ladies Who Ride the Wheel. - The San Francisco Call, 25 Apr 1892, Mon - Page 8
Long before cycling was generally recognized as a popular sport, clubs were formed for its promotion. The West - or new civilizations generally - either adopts a new idea among the very first or among the very last. It happens that in cycling California was among the first to recognize the coming sport. In February, 1878, the first bicycle club in America was organized, under the name of the Boston Bicycle Club; on December 13th of that year the San Francisco Bicycle Club was organized by a group of nine enthusiasts, the founders of the oldest bicycle club in America, since the extinction of the old Boston club. The first officers elected were: Ralph de Clairmont, President; G. L. Cunningham, Captain; George H. Strong, Subcaptain; and Charles L. Barrett, Secretary and Treasurer. The other members were: Ex Governor George C. Perkins, Howard B. Land, John B. Golly, William M. Fuller, and Fred G. Blinn.
In February, 1879, was held what was probably the first out-door bicycle race on the Pacific Coast. The old Recreation Grounds in San Francisco, at the corner of Twenty-fifth and Folsom streets, was the scene of the contest, and the mile race was won by Searles, with G. Loring Cunningham a close second.
In the early part of 1879 one of the first races was held in this city at Twenty-fifth and Folsom streets, and was won by Mr. Searles, with G. Loring Cunningham second. [Prize; bronze dogs. - MF] But very few races were held, however, until. 1883–84. It was in the latter year that Fred Russ Cook made his appearance, winning the one-mile maiden race at the Olympic Club games on May 30th in 3 minutes and 17 1/2 seconds, Mr. Cook was one of the most noted of the early riders. A magnificently built-man, devoted to athletics, he trained himself in splendid shape and won almost all the events in which he competed. At one time he held the world's record for one-quarter of a mile of 37 3-5 seconds, made on a horse track at San Jose, and held the twenty-four-hour record of America of 207 1/2 miles. His last appearance on the racing path was on January 1, 1889, when he competed in some of the races held by the Bay City Wheelmen at the Haight street grounds in this city. He is still actively engaged in bicycling, being one of the directors of the Bay City Wheelmen, but confines himself merely to little jaunts on the wheel, the racing path seeming to have lost him for all time.
Colonel de Clairmont imported his first machine, the high wheel pattern, from Paris to this city in the spring of 1876. His was the only bicycle on the Coast, from the Bering straits to the straits of Magellan, and the third or fourth wheel on the western hemisphere. His maiden spin to the Cliff House caused a small stampede of horses in the Park and on the ocean beach, but no accident. During the following year G. Loring Cunningham received an English wheel from Boston, and shortly afterwards Governor Perkins, R. B. Woodward and J. B. Golly imported their wheels from Coventry, England. The wheels were high and difficult to mount. Mr. Woodward's machine had a sixty-inch front wheel, and it required two steps on the backbone to reach the saddle. Its gigantic dimensions and ungainly appearance caused considerable comment, not all of which was complimentary to the rider or machine, particularly the comment indulged in by drivers whose horses the machine scared.
It was the first club in this city and second only to the Boston Bicycle Club, which had been organized a few months earlier. Colonel Ralph de Clairmont, Senator Perkins, H. B. Land, W. M. Fuller, G. Loring Cunningham, George H. Strong, F. G. Blinn, J. B. Golly and Charles L. Barrett were the charter members. Some of them still ride the wheel, but not the old style they had to climb in those days. Colonel de Clairmont was President of the club till 1881, when he was succeeded by Columbus Waterhouse. The club maintained its organization until two years ago.
In 1877 two wheels were imported into this country, from Coventry, England, by G. Loring Cunningham and were placed on exhibition in the window of a carpet store on Bush street. They were of the Bayless & Thomas make, and proved an excellent advertisement for the house, for they became a nine days wonder. One of these wheels Mr. Cunningham kept for his personal use; the other was purchased by George H. Strong, although the cost of it was twice that of one of our modern wheels, the price ranging from $130 upward.
Gradually the sport gained ground. New wheels were imported, first by individuals, and then by well-known firms. Colonel de Clairmont's enthusiasm was still unbounded and he numbered among his pupils such men as George C. Perkins, George Hobe, George Cunningham; Herman C. Eggers and several others. The waning enthusiasm of these men which had received a temporary check in their disgust with the old style of wheel, the "Boneshaker," returned and all the keenness of interest in the sport revived with the possession of the new "Neckbreakers." Wheeling was destined to become the leading sport, but the cyclers of to-day with their softly cushioned seats and tires find the difficulties and obstacles with which the pioneer wheelmen were forced to contend almost incredible recitals in the face of the ease with which their swift wheels speed along the roads made specially for them to-day.
Then the "club" resort was had. On December 13, 1878, a club was formed known as the San Francisco Bicycle Club, which was the first organization of its kind on the Coast, and the second in the whole United States. Among the members were Governor George C. Perkins, Colonel Ralph de Clairmont, Judge Kerrigan, George H. Strong, G. Loring Cunningham, F. G. Blinn, J. G. Golby, George Hobe, Robert M. Welch, Charles L. Barrett, F. C. Merrill, E. Mohrig. F. E. Osbourne, Charles C. Moore, Fred Russ Cook, Herman C. Eggers, Frank D. Elwell and many others.
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