The Ace of Cyclists

Posted by Tenby Museum on May 10, 2018 Blog No Comments

The Ace of Cyclists

CARTEN 100 – A simple challenge, Cardiff to Tenby “100 miles, on a bike, in a day”. Not a race, not a sportive, just a ride to Tenby!

As the energetic cyclists speed their way on the 100 miles towards Tenby from Cardiff for 2018’s CARTEN we at Tenby Museum think of George Ace, a pioneer cyclist who from 1884 had a cycle business in Tenby. In 1879 he had become the Amateur Cycling Champion of Wales, although we’re not sure how he’d have managed the CARTEN on his ‘ordinary’ cycle or penny farthing, which can be seen on display in the museum. He was a founder member of the Tenby Cycling Club.

George Ace began cycling as young man and bought his first machine when he was 18. It had a wheel with a diameter of 55inches (139 cms) and on this bicycle George soon began setting records that stood for many years. In 1885 he rode for a wager from Haverfordwest to Tenby in 1hour 24minutes. His bike weighed 40lbs (18 kgs), did not have gears and tarmac was still unheard of. Later that year he became the proud owner of a Rover ‘safety ‘ bicycle on which he rode from Swansea to Tenby in 4hours 28minutes. A time which compares fairly well with the CARTEN100 cycle ride which aims to offer those entering a leisurely ten hour ride from Cardiff to Tenby on rather better roads and better, safer machines!

Although a great cyclist and despite selling motor cars George wasn’t such a great motorist, being summoned 1918 in for dangerous driving on the road between Fishguard and Haverfordwest – and probably on dirt roads – no tarmac!

Getting on and off a penny-farthing was somewhat hazardous. To get on the machine one had to grasp the handlebars, put one foot on a peg above the small back wheel, scoot along to get up speed before jumping up (and quite a long way up) on to the seat while continuing to steer and balance!

To stop, the rider had to press back on the pedals while applying a spoon-shaped brake pressing the tyre – so going down hill must have been very exhilarating and given the unmade roads and other obstacles it was too easy to find oneself heading over the handlebars! This lady looks very elegant but one wonders how she managed the complexity of mounting, pedalling and stopping!

In 1884 a Thomas Stevens road his penny-farthing from San Francisco to Boston, a distance on modern roads over over 3000 miles – no springs, no gears, no tarmac – quite an edurance ride. he was the first cyclist to cross the United States. (we don’t think he cycled back again!)

Best wishes to all in CARTEN 100 who are raising much money for charity – enjoy the ride.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Tenby Aces, gwallater and Vintage News