Page:The Cycle Industry (1921).djvu/81

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There is, perhaps, no industry in the country that is connected with a sport or pastime that is or was influenced so much by successes made on its products as the cycle trade.

The manufacturers recognized in the earliest days the value of the publicity gained by an important win on a bicycle of their make and bearing their name and trade mark. The value of racing successes is not now quite so high as in the past, but it still plays an important part in keeping the names of various makes of bicycles before the public eye.

The earliest races that were supported by riders of the professional or semi-professional class were unimportant road events that were contested by men engaged in the cycle industry in some capacity or other, and retained chiefly for their prowess in pushing some particular make of machine to victory. Sometimes they were the actual producers of the machine, but it was comparatively rare to find a really good racing man who combined mechanical talent with a capacity for speed and endurance.

Racing on high bicycles began to attract the attention of the public when proper cycling tracks commenced to appear in various parts of the kingdom. Previous to the construction of cinder tracks some racing had taken place on grass running tracks, three and four laps making a mile. One of the best known of the early cinder tracks was at Stamford Bridge, Fulham, London; others sprang up at Aston Lower Grounds, Birmingham; Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London;