LADY CYCLISTS. - The San Francisco Call, 04 May 1895
A San Jose Girl Discusses the Bloomer Question.
The following interesting communication, from one of San Jose's best-known wheelwomen, on bloomers and skirts must certainly interest the admirers of cycling:
SAN JOSE, May 3. - The question of skirts vs. bloomers for wheelwomen we thought thoroughly worn out from discussion; but now comes the assertion that the One Hundred and Fifty of New York object to bloomers, and will cling to the skirt. Ye ancient Gods! And New York is considered “up to date!” Well, of course, in this wild, wild West, I suppose we are a little pronounced in our tastes. What can we expect when our forefathers came over in a "company” boat instead of one of their own?
But for a truly charming companion, a thoroughly good chum, and an altogether sensible piece of humanity, give me a California bicycle girl. San Jose, I think, is the cycling center of our glorious State. Here we have the Ladies' Cycling Club, consisting of about thirty members, all expert riders, besides many unattached. Among the latter Mrs. George Owen is, perhaps, one of the most graceful as well as most courageous riders.
Mrs. Owen, when interviewed by the writer upon the desirability of the bloomer costume, said: “You may quote me as being a stanch advocate of the rational costume. Why, think of the comfort gained in adopting this style of dress. A few years ago I was riding a 35-pound wheel, wearing a long skirt, frequently leaving yards of said skirt by the roadside after an animated struggle with chains and pedals, finally coming home annoyed and fatigued, with a dress to be mended and cleaned. Now, I don my bloomers, mount a 17-pound diamond-frame wheel and skim over the ground, untrammeled by care-or skirts." Mrs. Owen makes a very pretty picture as she pedals serenely down the most crowded street, confident in the knowledge that she is entire mistress of the silent steed so obedient to her touch.
After this pleasant chat with Mrs. Owen, I called upon another of the unattached - one of the brightest and cheeriest little bodies it has been my pleasure to meet - Miss Fitts. This lady's idea about the use of bloomers is such a sensible one I must tell you about it. She said: “Well, you see, as bloomers are concerned, I am, practically speaking, 'on the fence.' I believe they should always be worn on long rides, but I do object to them on the main streets. I am a sincere advocate of them, but I have no admiration for the girls who ride up and down the principal thoroughfares, dismounting occasionally to partake of a soda, and invariably attracting attention by giggling and appearing very conscious of their appearance. I wear the bloomers whenever I ride for the exercise, but for town riding I still cling to skirts. It is conceded that Miss Fitts maintains the prettiest position when riding of any lady in San Jose.
Many members of the Ladies' Cycling Club favor bloomers, but alas! there is a majority against the custom, and until their minds are changed all the fair members must ride in skirts. In another article I hope to present pictures of a number of San Jose's most prominent attached and unattached wheelwomen.
Speaking of ladies' clubs, which so seldom prove a success, I recently heard a prominent wheelman make the remark, “So long as there are women there will be gossip; so long as there is gossip ladies' clubs will be a failure," and some way the thought stayed with me so persistently I believe he was to some extent correct in his statement. Take the men's clubs, for instance. If a member is fine-looking, an expert on the wheel or at billiards they are proud of him; he is an honor to the club. If he occasionally "astonishes the natives” by appearing in some style decidedly new they only say “What an original chap B is."
But the girls - let us say A is a charming companion, a good rider, a better conversationalist. She attracts the attention of any one admiring light and sunshine by her sunny nature. You hear some one say: "Oh, did you ever see anything so disgraceful as the way A flirts? and so conceited, too. I wonder what would be said if we should do that." And so it goes until A hears of it. She stamps her little foot, says they are "real mean," withdraws from the club - and "just don't care."
Until we take a broader view of the little things that make up life, until we can clasp hands as cordially with the one who outshines us as with the one we outshine, we girls shall be failures as members of clubs.
Next Saturday I shall try to give an idea of the personnel of the Ladies' Cycling Club of San Jose, and of proper styles on the wheel. Until then, I am, yours for the sport.