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"The Wheeling Extremist"


From The Bulletin, 11 May 1895.

The people of this great Republic are revealing more clearly every year the traits that, in the individual, characterize the extremist. They run to "fads," and a fad is usually the progeny of the extremist. They--to use an Americanism--"run things into the ground." To occupy a middleground, to be conservative, is abhorrent to the average American, particularly the young men and young women of this country. It is as if most of these were steam-engines, working at high pressure and devoid of a balance-wheel or a governor wherewith the speed is to be regulated. Take, for instance, the evolution of only one "craze," namely, bicycling. It has to-day obtained such a hold upon the younger people as to threaten the danger which comes through extremism. It is being run into the ground for the reason that bicycling in moderation is something the American youth finds impossible. This tendency to extremes in bicycling is stimulated by the handiwork and the brain-work of Americans. Every year finds the wheel better and cheaper than it was the year before. In direct proportion does the number of its admirers and its riders increase. It can not be gainsaid that wheeling is a delightful exercise, and, taken in moderation, conducive to health. But it is equally true that the wheeling extremist is destined to be round-shouldered and narrow-chested. If the seat of health was located in the calves of one's legs, the bicycle would develop a race of Methusalehs. Or, if one could add to the length of his days by developing a pair of arms fit to hold the handle-bar of a wheel for twelve hours out of the twenty-four, the doctors of the land would die of starvation and the king of terrors be defied. But too much bicycling is worse than none at all, and it is time for the spirit of moderation in wheeling to be manifested.

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