Walter F. Foster

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Professional Teams

Rambler team

W. (Walter) F. Foster and Thomas H. B. Varney were part of the local cycling scene. They went hunting together. Thomas H. B. Varney had a bicycle shop (a "biclorama") and an outdoor advertising business. Walter Foster meets George Kleiser, go into outdoor advertising and 129 years later we have ClearChannel.

No event of the year has excited so much interest among the wheelmen of the Pacific coast as did the twenty-five-mile road race over the San Leandro triangle yesterday morning. There were nineteen entries, and bicycle riders from all parts of the State were present to witness the contest. It was a handicap race, professionals barred, the starters, with their time allowances in minutes, being as follows: H. R. Williams Jr., Alameda Bicycle Club, 9; E. W. Bradford, Alameda Bicycle Club, 8: Louis Vide, [probably Louis Asheild Vidy] League American Wheelmen, 6; F. Larder, Garden City Wheelmen, 6; W. R. Lipsett, Garden City Wheelmen, 5-1/2; Fred Brown, Alameda Bicycle Club, 5; Al Alcayaga, unattached, 5; T. H. Doane, unattached, 5; C. H. Bliss, Bay City Wheelmen, 4-1/2; F. G. White, Alameda Bicycle Club, 4-1/2; W. H. Hebard, Alameda Bicycle Club, 4-1/2: W. E. Lee, Alameda Bicycle Club, 3-1/2; O. L. Pickard, League American Wheelmen, 34; D. Marshall, Bay City Wheelmen, 3; George Osen, Garden City Wheelmen, 3: W. F. Foster, Alameda Bicycle Club, 3; F. Waller, Oakland Bicycle Club, 2-1/2: E. E. Stoddard, Bay City Wheelmen, scratch; J. F. Ives, Alameda Bicycle Club, scratch.

A wheelman's trophy.

The road was heavy on account of the rain, but as the sun came out it gradually improved. The time for the first lap was slow, but later on the pace became very fast. At the beginning of the last lap Foster, Osen and Waller were close together, with the others spread over a long stretch of back country. A desperate finish ensued. W. F. Foster, on a Victor cushion tire safety, winning by five yards in 1h. 25m. 57s., beating the previous coast record by eight minutes and two seconds. George Osen finished recond, F. Waller third, F. G. White fourth, Al Alcayaga fifth, A. L. Pickard [O. L. Pickard] sixth, J. L. Ives [J. F. Ives] seventh E. E. Stoddard eighth, D. Marshal ninth and W. E. Lee tenth, all of these beating the former coast record of 1h. 33m. 59s., made by T. G. Elwell [F. D. Elwell] June 2, 1888.

Foster Breaks the Bicycle Record. - San Francisco Chronicle, 31 May 1891

At the twenty-five mile road race of the Alameda Bicycle Club, held on the San Leandro triangle on Decoration day, the records for California, and, in fact, for the United States, to use a common expression, just naturally were "not in it.” It had rained early in the morning, but notwithstanding the bad condition of the roads some 200 wheelmen met, and at about 10:45 o'clock the first start was made. The men got off in good style, running toward Hayward on the straight road, and turning to the right. At the end of the first lap the first starter, Williams, Alameda Bicycle Club, crossed the line first. The second lap saw Foster, Alameda Bicycle Club, traveling in splendid form first. This position he maintained to the finish, crossing the line in 1h., 25m. and 25s. Osen of the Garden City Wheelmen of San Jose pushed Foster hard here, almost lapping his rear wheel. This was a very pretty finish. Waller of the Oaklands came next, and so on to the end. The scratch men, Stoddard, Bay City Wheelmen, and Ives, Alameda Bicycle Club, made a good tussle, Ives getting the place about thirty feet in front of Stoddard. Waller got the time prize on a cushion-tire safety in 1h., 24m, and 57s., the best previous one being 1h. 26m. and a fraction.


The arrangements for timing the race were the only point of the entire affair not entirely successful. Only one man was taking the time, which he did no doubt correctly, but the man who was registering the times called, so it is claimed by Foster's friends, has made a mistake in his work, which will give the time medal to Foster, whom, we understand, has entered a protest to that effect. How it will be decided cannot be said.

The Wheelmen. - San Francisco Chronicle, 01 Jun 1891

The two-mile safety race for the Pacific Coast championship, held by G. H. Osen, of the Garden City Cyclers, was won by W. F. Foster of the Alameda Bicycle and Athletic Club, Osen coming in a good second. B. C. Lund of the Acmes had very little trouble in winning the one-mile ordinary handicap in 2:51 3-5, the second man being H. C. Smith of the Garden Citys.

Then came what was really the event of the day, the one-mile safety handicap, In this all the best riders were entered, and the record was badly knocked out in the second round by Walter Foster on his racquet-frame Victor. Grant Bell, who rode the fine Swift which he won in the May races, took the first heat in 2:45 2-5, G. A. Falkner being second. Foster almost had a walkover in the next heat, his lime being 2:36 2-5, with Van Wyck a poor second. This cut the coast record down nearly six seconds, and a still greater reduction would doubtless have been made had the Alameda youth been pushed.


The final heat of this race was extremely exciting. Bell, Foster, Osen and Edwards started from scratch, their first object being to overtake Van Wyck, who had a 75-yard handicap. This they soon succeeded in doing, and then the battle of the giants began in earnest. Each led by turns until the last lap, when Osen got to the front and on the lower turn led Foster. who seemed to be in a pocket, by 20 feet. Then the Alameda champion let out a link and showed how he could ride when he felt that way. It was only a short distance to the lane, but the way he overhauled Osen was a caution. He gained with every push of the pedal and In a moment was lapping the San Jose giant's hind wheel. Ten yardmore and Osen would not have been in it, but there was not that distance to go, and the pride of the Garden Citys crossed the line two feet ahead of the Alameda boy. Edwards was third and Bell fourth. Van Wyck dropped out of sight somewhere near the clubhouse. The time was 2:37 3-5.

... Nevertheless, Walter Foster is happy, for he still holds the time championship for the Pacific Coast.

San Francisco Call, Volume 72, Number 35, 5 July 1892 - Bicycle Races in Various Parts of the State

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.

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


The Olympic Wheelmen will have Walter Foster, Robert K. Long and Will Haley to defend their colors in the class B events on Monday, and as Foster is anxious to redeem himself, on account of his sickness when at Denver, it is to be accepted as a fact that men entered against him in any of the events will be compelled to ride hard to keep him from winding handily.

The team consisting of Messrs. Foster, Wells, Haley, Terrill and Long will ride in all of the class B events at the Garden City on September 10th.

AMONG THE WHEELMEN - San Francisco Chronicle, 08 Sep 1894


The latest picture of Walter Foster shows him in citizens' attire, and those who have been so accustomed to seeing him in a racing suit may not at first glance recognize the handsome young man whose likeness is presented in this issue. He will race to-day at Oakland and on Monday at San Jose, and can be depended upon to bring the Olympic Club Wheelmen's colors well up to the front in all class B events.

THE WHEELMEN. - The San Francisco Call, 07 Sep 1895


Walter Foster Gets Favorable Mention.

He Has Long Been Pre-eminent in the Cycle Circles - A Paper's Comments on Him.

Walter F. Foster, who has been making some new records at Napa, receives a column of very favorable mention in to-day's Examiner. The article is accompanied by two portraits of the young record-breaker. The article says in part:

"The man of the year in California cycling racing has unquestionably been Walter F. Foster of the Olympic Club Wheelmen.

"Foster began his racing career in a modest way, winning both the time and first prize in a meet of the Alameda Bicycle Club around the triangle at San Leandro, about eight miles, in the spring of 1891. There were no spectators present, no announcement having been made of the contest, the members riding down quietly in the early morning, and the majority of them being contestants. This race proved so satisfactory that, on May 30th, the club promoted an open twenty-five-mile race, which Foster won, Frank Waller, the long-distance champion, securing the time prize in 1:24:57.

When the first modern track on the Coast was built at Alameda Foster settled down to steady training, and was uniformly successful, since which time he has been a consistent winner.

No one man has been pre-eminent in cycle racing here as long as Foster. Going down the line of Coast champions, we find Woodman, Eggers, Finkler, Cook, Elwell, Adcock, Davis, Fonda, Shockley, D. L. Burke, Ives, Edwards and Ziegler as men who have held championship honors for a length of time, vary from a day to a couple of years; but the cares of the busy world have interfered and the champion becomes the ex-champion even while yet in his prime.

Foster's riding has always been distinguished for the desperate chances he takes and the indomitable courage be displays in competition, having won many races purely on his pluck, coming again when he was all but beaten, and finishing ahead of possibly faster riders, but ones lacking in gameness.

"Foster was born in Vallejo, is twenty-four years of age, stand 5 feet 10 inches in height and weighs 155 pounds."

HIS RACING CAREER - Walter Foster Gets Favorable Mention. - Alameda Daily Argus, 19 Oct 1895