In 2011, Colorado Springs cycling enthusiasts, along with a lot of politicians, were really excited about being one of the cities included on the route of the inaugural USA Pro Challenge race — America's answer to the Tour de France.
Not one to miss out on the fun, Matt Mayberry, director of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, put together an exhibit on the city's cycling past. It included an "ordinary" (one of those bikes with a big wheel in front and a small one in the back) that Colorado College professor William Strieby had owned in the late 1800s or early 1900s. The bike is thought to have been the first to grace our city streets.
"Colorado Springs kind of came of age at the same time as the bicycle," Mayberry notes.
He adds that people were doing century rides (100-mile rides) in that era, and that bike shops quickly became common. Winfield Scott Stratton, one of the city's mining millionaires and a major philanthropist, once bought a bicycle for every laundry girl in Colorado Springs, so they wouldn't have to carry their loads on foot.
Back in 2001, the Century Chest — a steel-riveted time capsule sealed in 1901 and stored on the Colorado College campus — was opened to great fanfare. Among the treasures was a written piece from local physician Dr. Samuel Caldwell, who wrote, "A few automobiles have appeared in the city, but as yet they are too costly and noisy and smelly ... Bicycles are the most popular and convenient means of getting about and there are thousands of them in use; our smooth, level highways are excellently adapted to them."
Caldwell predicted that bicycles would still be rolling around the Springs in 2001, but added, "prophesying is a dangerous business."