What do the Tour de France, the Giro D’Italia and a Gladiator have in common?

We live in an era where everything that needs to be done, needs to be done quickly. Communication, which used to take place through archaic devices like hand-written letters, telegraphic messages and carrier pigeons, has been replaced by the Internet – a relatively new phenomenon that makes everything which came before it seem prehistoric. (When I explained to my son that I wrote my university thesis on a main-frame computer that was only available to me between the hours of midnight and 6 am, he looked at my as if I had suddenly grown antennae and started speaking Swahili. Not his fault, he just couldn’t conceive of a time before laptops, Facebook, and iChat.)

cycles-alcyon-misti-vintage-poster-

Cycles Alcyon, circa 1899

 

A hundred years ago, bicycles were all the rage. Used by men, women and children, they allowed for quiet, individual travel anywhere, at any time – and it seems that everyone who was anyone had at least one two-wheeler to get them wherever they wanted to go. Whether it was the Belle Epoque beauty of Alycon Cycles or the Art Deco lovely of Dion Bouton, women were cycling in droves – either to get where they were going, or perhaps to get away from places they had no desire to be in the first place…. Look at the unescorted beauty at the beach in Cycles Dion Bouton – no man, a relatively short skirt, a bicycle she would have had to ride astride (horrors!) and only a dog to keep her company. Yes, it’s a beautiful Art Deco poster, a classic in fact, but what it shows us is how far – literally – women had come.

Cycles Dion Bouton Vintage Poster

Cycles Dion Bouton - Fournery

In fact, the competition between manufacturers became so intense, that the posters advertising their wares sometimes didn’t show bicycles at all…

Cycles Hirondelles

Cycles Hirondelles - Vivien

 

One of the most famous bicycle posters ever illustrates the bicycle and cleverly manages to insert a naked woman (proving once and for all that the idea of using sex to sell products wasn’t invented by Madison Avenue after all)…

Cycles Gladiator Vintage poster

Cycles Gladiator = Freedom

Now millions of people all over the world can watch the winner of the Tour de France come into the Champs Elysees from a teeny-tiny camera mounted on the top of his helmet, while thousands of on-lookers wave him on to victory. The Giro D’Italia fans are amongst the most fanatical on the planet, lining the race route and championing their hometown boys like only Italians can …. Although I bet that if a naked woman riding a Gladiator bicycle entered either one of those races, even the most ardent fan might be convinced to switch allegiance.

OLYMPIC-POSTER-1976-MONTREAL-OLYMPICS-C

Cycling at the 76' Olympics in Montreal

 

Giro D'Italia Poster

Giro D'Italia

To feel just some of the excitement of the Giro D’Italia click HERE!

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