Female Cyclist of the Day
July 17, 2011
I shouldn’t be surprised that Katharine Hepburn enjoyed the liberating powers of cycling. After all, she was an accomplished athlete, even showing off some of her skills in the movie, Pat and Mike. (If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a great celebration of women in sports and even features superstar Babe Didrikson Zaharias!) Still, I was very pleased when my mom recently showed me some passages from I Know Where I’m Going: Katharine Hepburn, A Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler, in which Hepburn recounts her early experiences on a bicycle.
“I saw my parents riding their bicycles, and my brother Tom had his bicycle, too,” she is quoted as saying. “It looked like a lot of fun.” She related how, at age three and a half, she learned to ride a special children’s bike her dad had made for her. Her first ride took place when he brought her to a hill in a nearby park, placed her on the bike, and gave her a shove. “He had a philosophy, you see,” she recalled. “He believed people will do what they have to do.”
Hepburn survived that ride, though her dad had neglected to explain the use of brakes, so she only stopped when she ran into a man at the bottom of the hill. But that didn’t dampen her enthusiasm. “The bicycle offered a wonderful chance to see the world,” she said. “I rode all over the city on my bicycle. I don’t know how Mother would have felt if she’d known how far I went. A city seen from a bicycle is an entirely different city.”
Those wonderful sentiments earn Hepburn the first posthumous designation for the Wheels of Change Female Cyclist of the Day.
May 26, 2011
One of the two-page features in Wheels of Change focuses on celebrity cyclists of the 19th century, including my favorite sharpshooter, Annie Oakley, and physicist Marie Curie, who spent her honeymoon on a bicycle trip with her husband Pierre. Back then, women throughout the world embraced the bicycle for its practical and transformative effects. More than 100 years later, they still are.
Case in point: I met country music star Chely Wright at Book Expo yesterday, and had a lovely chat about Wheels of Change as she autographed a copy of the paperback edition of her memoir, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer. (She'd noticed that my Book Expo badge said "Exhibitor Author" and "National Geographic" and asked what I'd written.) Wright confided that she’s an avid cyclist and rode almost every day during the stressful year following her very public coming out as a lesbian. Like Me even includes a photograph showing her in full cycling gear with her bicycle—a Scott CR1 Road Bike—along with a vivid description of a ride through the snow that revived her spirits and strengthened her will. That makes her the perfect person to inaugurate the new, occasional Female Cyclist of the Day feature on this blog.
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Misspelling of the Month
I don't often turn to Chinese restaurant menus for misspellings because they can be easy targets. But this one invented a new word that has a bit of charm. Quite accidentally, it's the second "steak"-related Misspelling of the Month in a row. So thanks to Empire Szechuan Village on Seventh Avenue, South, in New York City for this meaty mistake. (Of course, "waterchestnut" should be plural and two words as well.)
Click on the photo to see a larger image.