Rid­ing into Bat­tle

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - BOOKS & FILMS - writ­ten by Ted Glenn pub­lished by Dun­durn Press re­viewed by David Mcpher­son

Did you know that the Boer War saw the in­tro­duc­tion of bat­tle­field cy­clists rid­ing as light cavalry and per­form­ing du­ties such as re­con­nais­sance, scout­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions? Af­ter read­ing Ted Glenn’s Riding­in­to­bat­tle, I was struck by the role bi­cy­cles played in early mod­ern war­fare. I was also fas­ci­nated by the young men of the 1st Cana­dian Corps Cy­clist Bat­tal­ion who came into their own – es­pe­cially dur­ing the piv­otal 100 Days Cam­paign to­ward the end of the First World War.

The story be­gins in three lo­cales: Val­cartier Camp north of Que­bec City, Camp Ex­hi­bi­tion i n Toronto and Par­adise Grove at Ni­a­gara-on­the-lake where the five orig­i­nal di­vi­sional cy­clist com­pa­nies were or­ga­nized and put through ba­sic train­ing be­tween Septem­ber 1914 and April 1916. The bikes were not sleek rac­ing ma­chines; rather, the full cy­clist kit in the Great War weighed in at al­most 90 lb.

Re­searched with rigor, and de­void of an aca­demic’s style, the Hum­ber Col­lege pro­fes­sor’s prose chugs along with a steady ca­dence. Glenn shares sto­ries of two-wheel­ing Cana­dian war heroes. In­ter­spersed are in­cred­i­ble pe­riod pho­tos that help take the reader to the bat­tle­fronts. Over­all, this book is a wel­come record of Cana­dian mil­i­tary his­tory. More im­por­tant, Glenn suc­ceeds in his goal to fill a gap in the his­tory of Canada’s part i n the Great War by il­lu­mi­nat­ing the valu­able con­tri­bu­tions of Cana­dian cy­clists in its out­come.

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