OUR CYCLE CHAMPIONS. - The Fastest Riders in the State. - San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Apr 1893

From Wooljersey


The Fastest Riders in the State.

Cracks Who Will Race This Season.

California's Speedy Men Who Are Training for Track Honors.

No California wheelman has yet achieved world-wide celebrity. The main reason is that this state cannot boast of a bicycle track which is fast in comparison with the tracks of Hartford, Springfield and other cities where records have been smashed in the past. The best of California tracks is at least ten to fifteen seconds slow in a mile in comparison with the specially prepared half-mile tracks of the East. There are many fast riders in California, and some embryo record breakers. All that is needed is the opportunity to demonstrate this fact to the world. Bicycling is going to have a tremendous boom this year all over America, and especially in San Francisco. The coming meetings of the Alameda Club on May 30th, and the Bay City Wheelmen on July 4th, promise to eclipse anything ever seen in the West in the way of racing, and all the leading clubs in the State will send their best men to represent them. In view of the opening of the racing season something about the speediest men in California will be of interest.

D. L. Burke, the champion of the State, first began to ride in Los Angeles in 1889. The State meet was held in Los Angeles in that year and Burke captured three firsts out of four starts. Since that time he has won innumerable races and holds all the Southern California records, as well as many of the State records. Last year at Riverside Burke beat Waller and Foster of San Francisco. In the mile race Burke cut the coast record from 2:36 1-5 to 2:33. The southern champion attended the league meet at Stockton last year and swept everything before him, lowering the coast records for a quarter, half and one mile. On Saturday following the meet Burke rode a quarter of a mile from a standing start in 33 seconds, and the half in 1:09. He also has a three mile record of 8:30. Burke is a phenomenal spurter, and how fast he could ride on the Eastern tracks is a matter of conjecture, but 2:12 for a mile should not stop him.

Walter Foster, the San Francisco champion, is 21 years old and is destined to make a great record for himself on the track this season. Foster is a native son, and weighs about 160 pounds when in condition. He began riding three years ago and won his first race against Ives, the champion at that time, in a ten-mile road race. Foster next won the diamond medal given by the Alameda Club in a twenty-five-mile road race. Foster won his first track race at Stockton, where he broke the mile coast record. Since that time he has come out with flying colors in races against some of the fastest men on the cost. Foster has won several championship races, and on May 30th last won the mile handicap in 2:36. Foster's most recent exploit in the cycling line was his victory over such scratch men as Edwards, Alexander, Bell and Wells in the twenty-five-mile road race held last Washington's birthday.

Grant Bell, one of San Francisco's fastest riders, is one of the best known men in the country, having been a contestant in races for the past twelve years. He held the one and five-mile State championships of Minnesota for several years before coming to California. Bell won the five-mile State championship of California in 1891. On May 30, 1892, he captured the five-mile race at a meeting given by the Alameda Bicycle Club, making a coast record of 14:18 3/4. His record of 1h. and 20m. in the twenty-five-mile road race given by the Acme Club stood until February 22d of this year, when it was lowered by Walter Foster. Bell has a record of 2:42 for a mile, 8:01 for three miles, which was made at Quincy, Il., on a solid tire Star of his own manufacture. Bell is 29 years old, weighs 155 pounds in racing condition and is five feet ten inches tall.

Colton has a flyer in the person of L. W. Fox, who is still attending school. Fox is only 17 years old, but he is undoubtedly one of the fastest riders on the coast, especially for a short distance. He rode a bicycle for the first time in March, 1892, since which time he has contested in ten races and was first in no less than seven, being beaten in the other three by D. L. Burke, the State champion. Fox is 5 feet 10 1/2 inches tall and weighs in condition about 155 pounds. At Los Angeles Fox rode a mile in 2:41. With proper training the Colton crack, who is a member of the Riverside Club, will be dangerous in the best company in California.

Wilbur J. Edwards entered his first bicycle race at the University of the Pacific in May, 1890. He was then 17 years of age, and in a hot race beat an older and more experienced rider. Since then he has ridden in Alameda, Stockton and San Jose, meeting the best riders in the State and always winning a place. On September 9th, last year, he won the half-mile championship and five-mile safety race at San Jose, and on Thanksgiving won the one-mile and five-mile at the same place. Edwards weighs 148 pounds, and stands 5 feet 7 inches in height, and is solid and strong as his wheel. He has never made remarkable time, but has beaten nearly all the crack cyclers of the coast. Edwards is a student at Palo Alto, and won the sub-collegiate bicycle championship last Saturday.

One of Sacramento’s speediest riders is C. S. Wells, who is a native son of the golden West, having been born in Jackson, Amador county, in 1867. Wells weighs 195 pounds, when in condition and is almost six feet tall. He was one of the winning team in the road race between Sacramento and Stockton. His first track experience was at the Alameda track on May 30, 1892, but he did not prove a winner. Later in the year Wells rode a mile in 2:34 1/4 and was timed the half in 1:10 3/4 at San Jose, on November 24th. Wells rode a dead heat with Alexander for second place in a mile race won by Wilbur Edwards. He also finished second to Edwards in the five-mile race. Great things are expected from Wells this year, as his improvement last year was something out of the common.

John E. Alexander commenced riding in races only last year. He took second place in his maiden race at Alameda, May 30th. At the same place September 5th, he won his best race, a half-mile handicap, with fifteen yards beating some of the the best riders of the coast on the home stretch. September 9th at San Jose he won second place in both the one mile and five mile scratch races. At Stockton September 16th with a twelve pounds heavier wheel than his competitor he ran second to D. L. Burke of Los Angeles, being beaten by but a wheel's length. The time of this race, 1:12 2-5, was, at the time, the coast record. Alexander hails from San Jose and attends the Stanford University.

W. A. Burke of Los Angeles is a new racing man who has come to the front with astonishing rapidity. He has only been riding about seven months, yet he has defeated all the best men in Southern California with one or two exceptions, and some good judges predict that he will beat his brother before the year is out. He resembles D. L. Burke in his riding, and is a good stayer for a mere tyro. It is among the probabilities that he will come north to meet the best men in the State at the Alameda meeting on May 301h.

George H. Osen stands 6 feet 2 inches in his bicycle shoes and first saw the light of day twenty-three years ago. He scales 190 pounds in condition. Osen is an American and lives at Hillsdale, Santa Clara county. He is an active member of the Garden City Cycling Club of San Jose. Osen made his debut as a racing man on July 4, 1890, at the State meet held at San Jose. It was in the mile race, but the bending of a crank necessitated his retirement soon after the start. Osen finished second in the two-mile handicap and won the mile tandem with Edwards against Doane and Gilmore in 3:19.

At the Alameda Club meeting on July 4, 1892, Osen finished second in the two-mile championship race and won the mile handicap. Later in the year Osen won the two-mile race at the Alameda track in 5m. 24s., breaking the coast record.

One of the grittiest little riders, in California is W. H. Jenkins of Los Angeles. He is of slight but wiry build, and can ride at 125 pounds in condition. The accompanying cut was taken after Jenkins rode a flying quarter in thirty-two seconds on a flat track. Jenkins began racing last Decoration day, when he made a mile in 2:53 4-5. Last Admission day at Riverside this youngster was a close second to Burke when he broke the State record by doing a mile in 2:36. He also finished second to Burke at Los Angeles last Thanksgiving day in the race in which the half mile was run in 1:14.

L. Stuart Upson is a native of Sacramento and has always contested as a representative of the Capital City Wheelmen. He is 25 years old, weighs 155 pounds and is 5 feet 5 inches high. Upson has competed in many races and is the pride of the Sacramento club. On July 4, 1890, he I beat Alcayaga in a three-mile race at Stockton. In 1892 Upson started in fourteen races and was first five times and second no less than seven. Upson held several coast records just before the pneumatic safety came into vogue.

Riverside's champion is Casey Castleman, a young man of splendid physique, and from whom great things are expected this year. He is only 17 years old, but tips the beam at 168 pounds when in racing condition. Castleman is six feet tall, and has demonstrated his ability as a speedy rider against such good men as Burke, Waller and Foster. In a three mile race at Riverside, Castleman gave Burke a hot argument, and beat Waller out for second place. The Riversider received a couple of bad falls last season, which militated [sic] against his training. Castleman will probably be seen here at the the league meet on the Fourth of July.