The search for forgotten Victorian achievements continues and the total number of cycle races in the British Isles - for men and women - raced over 6 days, and the variants that were raced over 5, 7, 11 and 12 days, continues to grow ....
Newly discovered. There were an additional four races just outside the century, in 1901, that retained the 19th Century format. And two more women’s races in Newcastle at the end of 1895 [Thanks to Dag and eBay]
These are all races that were reported as news in the mass-circulation publications of the day - within a day or two of the actual event.
The next UK Six was a little reported race for two man teams held in 1903. Then no further Six Days have been found until 1923 as the sporting side of cycling retreats into strict amateurism - to the exclusion of anything involving commerce, payments or even contact with professionals. The 1890’s saw the start of the British cycling’s dark ages - and the dawn of the European classics. How different things could have been ......
However this was very much a self-inflicted injury .. as this cyclist writing a touring report illustrates; “How much more sense there is in amusing one’s self in this way [a touring holiday in Hungary] than in competing in such a useless performance as the late French ride from Paris to Brest and back! The tourist, even the scorching tourist, would never pretend to emulate the pace of Terront or Laval; it would be against reason. ... No, road-races are but vanity and vexation of spirit, even if an entire population, as in that part of France between Paris and Brest, hails them with delight and present palm branches and makes pretty speeches of welcome to the winning competitors.” Penny Illustrated Paper (London) Saturday 18-Sep-1891
And this was another, much later and rather overblown, explanation - “1900 - The Union Cycliste Internationale [UCI] was formed without Britain so as to end the England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Dominions domination”Cycling 25-Jan-1951 .
The initial starting point for these Victorian pages came from Velo Gotha, in my case the edition published in 1984 at Brussel (Bruxelles), Belgium. But it has been the British Library’s 19th Century Newspapers archive and recently the British Newspaper Archive that have provided the bulk of the detailed information. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s Gallica web site providing access to Le Veloce-Sport sports newspaper archive. A few clippings have also been found at the Paperspast web site of the National Library of New Zealand and new archives are being added at the Trove web site of the National Library of Australia.
For US races then Six-Day Bicycle Races by Peter Nye is ideal. It is an homage to velodrome bicycle racing in the United States and includes much new material - some obtained directly from the families of the riders.
Clearly facts about these early races are hard to come by - and the published info is sometimes wrong or contradictory. I know it’s unlikely but ... does anyone have any original records, photographs or press reports?