San Jose Merchants as Cyclists - San Jose Mercury-news, Volume LXXIV, Number 68, 8 March 1908

From Wooljersey

San Jose Merchants as Cyclists

RECOLLECTIONS of Heydey of Sport Recalled by Strange Photographs Resurrected by Mercury - Pictures of Well-Known Local Citizens in Queer Attire Are Found.


IN a musty garret of a local business house a Mercury reporter unexpectedly located a large number of unique photographs of some of San Jose's best known citizens and business men attired in the gaudy uniforms which were a fad with the young men and the old men alike in the first eight years that the bicycle made its appearance in San Jose. These photographs were covered with the accumulation of dust of a score of years when found, but are all in excellent condition, and commencing tomorrow morning the Mercury proposes to run one each day, with a short bit of the biography of each man.

All of the photographs are of the earliest members of the Garden City Wheelmen, the well-known local cycling club, which was organized in 1884, and the pictures of several of the charter members of the organization are among them. According to the records of the Wheelmen, the only seven men who owned bicycles in San Jose in 1884 - namely, R. G. Bailey, H. D. Boschken, J. E. Gibson, A. Hyman, L. Moultree, W. W. Reed, E. E. Thomas and D. L. Thornton - met on the evening of August 8 and organized what they styled the Garden City Cycling Club. The bicycle in those days was a crude affair and the seven members of the new organization were looked upon as foolhardy acrobats and gymnasts rather than as sane sportsmen, and for two years there were no recruits brave enough to join their order and participate in their pleasure trips. However, In 1886 the club reorganized under the name of the Garden City Wheelmen, of which the charter members were: G. P. Black, Fred Brohaska, W. S. Johnson, L. F. Lindley, A. S. Mangrum and A. C. McKenney, in addition to those already, named as charter members of the original organization.

Following this reorganization several improvements were made in the old high bicycle, known as the "ordinary" to distinguish it from the low bicycle which followed it and which was designated as the "safety," consequently a large number of new members came into the club; club runs were planned, also tours, race meets, and excursions and pleasure trips of various kinds. This was the real heyday of the sport in this valley and it was during this time that the photographs discovered by the Mercury were taken.

The cyclists of those days are now staid, practical merchants and professional men of this city, and readers will must stretch their imagination to recognize some prosperous merchant, with whom perhaps they have had business relations for years, in these photographs of lithe-limbed athletes mounted on peculiar looking machines.

The uniforms worn by the cyclenen of those days were gorgeous affairs, often being made from silk or velvet of a very brilliant hue. For instance, short tight-fitting, pink, silk trousers with a purple coat anda jockey's cap of many colors was considered a very smart outfit.

THE above cut is a reproduction of a photograph of A. G. Col, taken 20 years ago, when the sport of cycling was in its infancy. Mr. Col is at present the president of the A. G. Col Company, and is a very prosperous and well-known merchant, and is not unknown politically, having served as County Auditor before going into the commission business, However, the above photograph represents a period in his career when he was known to everyone simply as "Al." The medal on the front of his racing suit indicates that he met with considerable success on the cycle path. At this time Mr. Col was an employee in the City store.

His long, sinewy form was a familiar sight on the old quarter-mile cycle track which the Garden City Wheelmen constructed years ago on South First street, at the junction of Second street. This track was torn up several years ago. Mr. Col also raced with considerable success on the Central Park track in San Francisco and also in Stockton and Alameda.