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Bicycle Racing

The Red Cloud Chief of July 31, 1896, reported a recent bicycle racing meet in Grand Island which had been the "best . . . ever held in this part of the state." According to the Chief, "The heavy rain of Tuesday fixed the track in elegant shape for the races on the 30th. The day was all that could be desired in point of weather, although during the last part of the program the floating clouds threatened to deluge the earth every minute, but Providence was merciful and there was not the slightest breeze to break the perfect calm. A large crowd was present, and they were not disappointed in their expectations to see some fast riding. . . .

"There were so many entries in the professional races that it was necessary to run trial heats for qualification. In the first heat there was a bad spill on the curve as the bunch was sprinting into the home stretch, in which 'Reddy' Maxwell, Mocket and Frederickson received some bad bruises. In the final of the half mile open professional, Frederickson received first money, Mockett second, and Hayman third. . . .

"No fast time was attempted in the professional races until the three mile handicap was reached, when Harry Eck, who was on the 160 yard mark led the bunch a terrific pace for two and a quarter miles, where, owing to the bunch continually changing pace, he was overtaken and finished fourth in the final sprint. As they crossed the tape for the last lap, Maxwell, the scratch man, who had been following in the rear, made a tremendous spurt and held it till the end, winning first money, with Lawson, the terrible Swede from Chicago, finishing second, and Frederickson third. It was owing to Eck's hot pace for the first two miles that the state record dropped to 7:39, more than 20 seconds.

"The two miles lap race was very interesting, the riders sprinting down the home stretch to see who should cross the tape first at each turn of the track. The first prize went to Sager, the second to Mills, and third to Baugh.

"This ended the best bicycle meet ever held in this part of the state. The riders complimented the surface of the track very highly and say that, with more banking, it would be the fastest track in the state."

(November 2002)


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