Charles Holland assessed and one million bikes sold (perhaps)
This week’s issue takes a closer look at the physiology of the one and only Charles Holland. Holland was an outstanding rider – winner of the BBAR, an Olympic bronze medallist in the team pursuit, and along with Bill Burl in 1937 the first Briton to ride the Tour de France. Holland made it to stage 14 in the Pyrenees without a team or manager before mechanicals conspired to end his race.
In the article Dr Adolphe Abrahams assesses his physique. Six years previous the magazine’s editor had “promoted an investigation of the leading long-distance cyclists” which had since become an annual feature. The ‘investigation’
seemed to consist of photographing the rider in their pants, measuring their limbs and comparing their length in relation to their height and their musculature to runners.
From one champion to another, Australian trailblazer Hubert Opperman writes about endurance cycling. ‘Oppy’ was world famous for his feats of endurance. He held multiple distance records and rode the 1928 Tour de France. His insights, no doubt initially gleaned from having to plough fields with horses and deliver telegrams by bike as a child, are captured in the feature. He admits he wasn’t a natural cyclist and that he “tumbled often, bruising darkley and painfully”. But he says, quite wonderfully, that “no infliction of the flesh could erase the joy of the spirit in attaining a sense of balance on two wheels”.
There was more from the Cycle Show at Olympia, along with some questionable statistics. Over 1,000 bicycles were said to be on display at the show. And as those bicycles are the most up-to-date products from 35 manufacturers each bicycle at Olympia could be said to lead “directly” to the sale of 1,000 others. The show therefore “represents the manufacture and use of a million new bicycles. In cash this week’s exhibition is a £5,000,000 affair!”
That would be worth £342 million in today’s money.