We often hear a saying "Don't invent a bicycle" about
something simple and known for a long time.
Really, the bicycle is old enough — more than a hundred
years of age. Its first prototype appeared in 1791 in France.
In 1800 a Russian peasant Artamonov made an iron bicycle
and travelled on it from Nizhni Tagil to Moscow.
First bicycles looked odd: a large (about 1.5 m high)
front wheel with a cranked axle.
The back wheel was usually smaller. Bicycles were made of
iron and riding them was not comfortable because of shaking.
They were even called "boneshakers".
In 1868 rubber tyres were invented, first solid, then
pneumatic. New types of bicycles appeared every year but
only in 1885 people saw a model which looked like modern
cycles. It had two almost equal wheels and a chain drive to
the rear wheel. The frame of the cycle was diamond-shaped.
This shape survived and became basic. The new machine looked
more elegant than the old "spiders" which were soon
abandoned. As time went by, new bicycles were invented —
for two, three and even fifteen riders!
The first bicycle race was held in 1868 in Paris. But the
sport became popular only several decades later because bicycles
were expensive and only rich people could afford them. By the
end of the 19th century many factories produced thousands
of bicycles which became cheap, so many people could practise
cycling and take part in various competitions.
Cycling competitions are generally divided into road and
track events. Both kinds are in the Olympic programme. Olympic
road events include individual and team races.
Individual races' distances are different usually up to
200 kilometres. The winner is the first cyclist who passes
over the finish line with his front wheel.
In the team road event the teams start the contest with 2—
4 minutes interval, and that team wins whose members get the
best sum ot timings.
Track events take place on special cycling tracks which
look like elongated stadiums with a sloping runway made of
concrete, wood or plastics. Track events are very spectacular.
The Olympic programme includes 1 km sprint races, 1 km heat or time trial, individual pursuit and team pursuit over 4 km.
Modern sport bicycles are very light but firm machines
made of special metals.
Cyclists wear jersey shirts with pockets on the back, tight
knee-long woolen shorts, perforated shoes, a cap or a leather
crash helmet and mitts on their hands.
1. How old is a bicycle?
2. Who invented the first all-metal bicycle?
3. How did the first bicycles look like?
4. When were pneumatic tyres invented?
5. Where and when were the first bicycle races held?
6. When did cycling become a mass sport?
7. What events are included in cycling competitions?
8. Can you describe a cycling track?