Page:The Cycle Industry (1921).djvu/82

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Molyneux Grounds, Wolverhampton; Belgrave, Leicester; and many other places. The National Cyclists Union was formed and took charge of amateur racing and some remarkable contests and record results were witnessed by large crowds of enthusiastic spectators.

It is safe to say that the early N.C.U. events were contested by amateurs, but one is treading on rather delicate ground when attempting to give a faithful description of later events or to define the status of an amateur. Much the same difficulty occurs in any sport, so the less said about it the better, except that the men engaged in racing did not worry half as much about the definition of an amateur as they did about the straight riding of those with whom they competed.

The real professional rider, of whom there was, perhaps, no better example than the late Dick Howell, toured the country during the summer months in parties who were under the control of a manager. The latter engaged the track, advertised the racing, and took a percentage of the gate money; it was, of course, a regular money-making public show and did not pretend to be anything different. In the winter the same managers organized indoor races on boarded tracks at such places as the defunct Aquarium, London; Bingley Hall, Birmingham; and other towns.

Indoor races were held between these professional teams of cyclists and relays of horsemen, and I believe the late Colonel Cody (Buffalo Bill) once took part in one of these contests.

We received visits from American teams of professional riders who toured the tracks of England and rode against the pick of British "pros." Some of the events were worth going to see, others, I am sorry to say, were not.

With the advent of the pneumatic tyre the popularity