San Jose Merchants as Cyclists - San Jose Mercury-news, Volume LXXIV, Number 70, 10 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.


PURSUED by a swarm of small boys, like a clown on circus day, a "husky" Edenvale youth mounted on a machine similar to no other ever seen in San Jose before that time rode bashfully down the streets of the city one day in '87. Pedestrians stopped to "rubber" and horses snorted and did gymnastics as he pedaled self-consciously along.

The cause of all this excitement was George H. Osen - now the well-known garage man - and his "safety," the first ever used in San Jose. This "safety," which represents the third step in the development of the bicycle, was equipped with solid rubber tires and weighed fifty pounds.

When this bicycle made its first appearance it created so much comment and its owner was pestered with so many questions that he was compelled to get some cards printed to pass to all inquisitors. These cards answered questions which people generally asked him, running something like this: "Yes, this is a bicycle. Yes, it is called a safety. Yes, I can go just as fast with it as I can on the high bicycle," etc.

When these safeties first made their appearance the riders of the high "ordinaries" scorned to ride them, and easily outdistanced safety riders on the road or track. It was not until the era of pneumatic tires that the old "ordinary” was discarded and the safety adopted generally.

George Osen purchased this machine while a resident of Edenvale, and frequently rode into San Jose and back to his residence. In this way he developed considerable speed and ability as a bicycle rider, and later won the State championship.

Old citizens of this city remember a tandem race in which he participated on an old dirt track constructed on West Julian street, and in which he won with the assistance of Wilbur Edwards, at present an official in the Security State Bank, and of whom we will have much to say later. This was Edwards' first appearance in public, and he rode the front seat of the tandem and did the steering. The pair pedaled with such strength and skill that they easily won the race, making a runaway out of it.

For a couple of years Osen was without a peer in California as a rider, but later a number of swift sprinters, among them well-known San Jose merchants, developed, and then "Big George," as he was known, took a back seat and devoted his time to his cycle business. When the auto first made its appearance in San Jose, he gradually drifted into that line, finally to the utter exclusion of the bicycle business. He is at present a member of one of the best known garage firms in the city -the Osen & Hunter Company.