Cycling History

What is the history of Cycling? What are its origins? Where did Cycling come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Cycling.

Cycling History

What are the basic rules of Cycling?

Besides being an environment-friendly and efficient way of transportation, bicycles are also great to practice sports with. Cycling is the sport where bicycles are used by athletes. Cycling entails a broad range of different events, in which rules, goals, equipment, and number cyclist varies. For example, in the Olympic games there are road and track cycling events. In track cycling there are events called Omnium, Keirin, Sprint, and team events; each different from the other, and all different from the road cycling events. Nonetheless, it is all cycling, it's all fast, and it's all fun to watch and practice. Cycling is also be practiced non-competitively, by people who use it as a way to stay healthy and to exercise. Regardless of what you want to do, cycling is a great sport, and you are going to learn all about its history here!

Which Country Started Cycling?

You may have heard about the Tour de France, one of the most prestigious cycling races in the world. Before there was the Tour de France, the first cycling race ever was also held in in France. The first cycling event was only 1200 meters long, only a fraction of the Tour de France's 3500 kilometers, but it was enough to get the sport going in the country. Road cycling evolved and grew in France, and soon the whole globe, with the first road race in America happened in Boston, 10 years after it was first done in France. As for track cycling, it started in England, where the road conditions were not ideal for races. Track cycling also allowed for the sport to be practiced year round, when weather conditions made it impossible for road races to happen.

Who Invented Cycling?

As said before, cycling events can be very different from each other and vary in lots of things. Still, they all have one thing in common, the use of the bicycle. That way, the invention of cycling can be attributed to the individual, or individuals that invented the bicycle. The first bicycle prototype was created by German nobleman Karl Von Drais in 1817, who invented a vehicle made of wood with two wheels that was supposed to make it easier for one to move around, which resembles a bicycle. Drais' model did not have pedals yet; those were added in 1839 by scottish Kirkpatrick Macmillan, who invented the first mechanically propelled bicycle. Frenchman Pierre Michaux invented a simpler and more efficient version of Macmillan's bicycle, which helped popularize the invention around the same time the first bicycle race was organized in France, in the 1860's.

When was Cycling Established?

The bicycle was getting steadily more popular in Europe since Karl Von Drais made its first pedal-less version in 1817. As many inventors were creating their own, better versions of the vehicle, it was becoming easier to ride it, and finally in 1861 the first official bicycle race took place in France. People appear to really have liked bicycle racing, as more races were created from that point on. The first inter-city race happened in 1869 between Paris and Rouen. Longer cycling events like that became a tradition, and many popular cycling races were founded in the late 19th century, some that exist to this day. It was around the 1870's that track cycling became popular in England. In the 1896 Olympics in Athens, the first edition of the games in the modern era, cycling was present with both track and road events, and it has been in ever edition ever since.

Cycling's popularity is related to the popularity of the bicycle itself. As it became easier to ride a bike, it became easier to race in them. With the first cycling event happening in 1868, it can be said that cycling became popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1896, it was popular enough to be included in the first Olympic Games of the modern era. Popular races were founded around that time, such as the Tour de France in 1903 and the Giro D'Italia in 1909.

There is something tricky about listing the countries where cycling is most popular. That is because there are those places that have a tradition in cycling races, and have won many medals in important events. But also, there are countries where cycling for pleasure and purely for exercising is part of the place's culture and identity, where people use bicycles as their primary way of transportation, and thus cycling is very popular. We bring you a list combining all those countries:

  • Netherlands
  • France
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Great Britain
  • USA

Cycling History Key Facts and Timeline

  • 1817: Karl Von Drais invented the first prototype of what would evolve to become the bicycle.
  • 1868: The first bicycle race is organized in France.
  • 1869: The first race between two cities is organized in France, between Paris and Rouen.
  • 1893: The first track cycling World Championships are organized.
  • 1896: The first Olympic Games of the modern era are organized. Cycling was featured with both track and road events.
  • 1900: The Union Cycliste Internationale is founded. The UCI is the governing body of all competitive cycling events.
  • 1903: The first Tour de France is organized.
  • 1927: The first professional road cycling World Championships are organized.
  • 1982: The first BMX World Championships are organized.
  • 1990: The first Mountain Bike World Championships are organized.
  • 1996: Mountain Bike becomes an Olympic event.
  • 2008: BMX becomes an Olympic event.
  • 2020: BMX freestyle becomes an Olympic event.