My next adventure is to join in the 200th anniversary celebrations of the invention of the Draisine, draisienne or hobby horse by Baron von Drais in 1817. His ‘running machine’ was the forerunner of the bicycle as the pedal was not invented until almost 50 years later in 1864.
In 1817 the only means of transport on land was riding a horse or being drawn by a horse on a carriage or cart. This new invention had a wooden frame, two wheels in line and a seat between, and the rider propelled his steed like a skater. With most of the riders weight being on the seat, all the force from the legs could be directed into forward motion. The main advantage over riding a horse is that a wooden horse doesn’t need feeding or grooming!
His invention, although short lived, soon took his name in Germany as a draisine, in France as a draisiene, and in England it was given the name Hobby Horse or Dandy Horse as most of the riders were dapper young men with more money than sense! In 1819 the British coachbuilder Denis Johnson produced an improved version, although it was soon banned from the streets due to accidents with pedestrians.
It wasn’t until 1864 that Pierre Michaux added cranks and pedals to the front wheel and together with the Olivier brothers they developed the Michauline or Velocipede in France, which was fondly known as the Boneshaker in England, and the bicycle craze was well under way.
Today it is well recognised that the best way to teach children to cycle is to start them on a hobby horse or glide bike – so the invention of 1817 lives on!
So, to mark the start of the IVCA Rally in Karlsruhe, the birthplace of Baron von Drais, 12 riders from around the World will ride their Draisines 230km from Nancy to Karlsruhe 20th – 24th May 2017. My Draisine has been build for me by a wheelwright in Thiers, France and I am in full training as well as testing out various outfits!
I will be raising sponsorship for Cancer Research UK for my efforts so if you would like to support please visit www.justgiving.com/Stuart-Mason-Elliott7
Keep an eye on this site for regular updates!