Ritchie Betts: Founder of LCC and Father of American Motorcycling

Ritchie Betts

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

R.G. “Ritchie” Betts, the first president of the Federation of American Motorcyclists, got his start as a bicycle activist in New Orleans. In 1887, the 17-year-old founded the Louisiana Cycling Club. The LCC was the second major cycling club formed in New Orleans, the first being the New Orleans Bicycle Club, formed in 1881. Under the aegis of Betts, the LCC grew quickly into a lively organization that soon overshadowed the NOBC.

For the first years of the 1880s, bicycles were  unpopular with the public as a strange new machine that many found intrusive and even dangerous on the streets, which were otherwise dominated by pedestrians and merchant carts. Betts and the LCC worked to convince the public of the utility of the bicycle as legitimate private transportation (as well as exercise and enjoyment), to advocate for the rights of cyclists to public roads, and to encourage the city to improve the conditions of city streets. In the spring of 1887, with Betts as Captain, the LCC joined forces with the NOBC to hold the first cycling track races in New Orleans at the Audubon Park Driving Track and the annual racing meet of the League of American Wheelmen’s Louisiana Division (the racing league to which most members of both clubs belonged) beginning that fall. The annual cycling league races at Audubon became one of the most popular spectator events in New Orleans.

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150th Birthday Party for the Bicycle

Facebook Event Page Here

https://www.facebook.com/events/1712224455708543/

On July 9, New Orleans cycling historian and University of New Orleans Master’s Program alum Lacar Musgrove is hosting The Bicycle: 150 Years of History and Art, a fundraiser for Bike Easy and Stolen Bikes NOLA at Castillo Blanco Art Studios in the Bywater. Beginning at 7pm, the event will feature a presentation on the earliest cycling clubs of 19th century New Orleans by Lacar Musgrove and a presentation by premier cycling historian of the United States and author of Bicycle: The History, David V. Herlihy. Herlihy is credited with discovering the evidence to settle, once and for all, the decades-long debate over who first invented the bicycle.

The event at Castillo Blanco will be preceded at 5pm by a FREE presentation at Bar Redux on 19th century bicycle art and imagery, followed by a Second Saturday Art Ride to the galleries on St. Claude Avenue then back to Castillo Blanco for the main event.

Following the historical presentations will be a Dandy Dance Party with DJ Matty of Mod Dance Party and Alligator Chomp Chomp. We’ll have cold delicious eats catered by @MadChef504, sodas and lemonade on sale for a dollar, and free popcorn, watermelon, and freezy pops! Cyclists will be invited to show off their lit up/tricked out/custom/art bicycles, tricycles, and peddled contraptions of all types

The goal of the event is to bring together cycling enthusiasts of all stripes in celebration of Pierre Lallement’s 1866 invention of the “velocipede,” to educate the public on the roots of cycling in New Orleans, and to raise money to help Bike Easy in its mission to make cycling in New Orleans easy, safe, and fun. .

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, page 115a

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

There will be a suggested donation at Castillo Blanco to benefit Bike Easy. If you’d like to help defray the costs of the event, a $5 of your donation at www.gofundme.com/biketastic will get you “PAID” bracelet at the door on the day of the event. If you would like to volunteer to help with this event, please email lacar.musgrove@gmail.com.

Yes, it is family friendly!

Yes, there will be a cash bar!

Biketastic Fundraiser

white back ground_zpsnxeoceggI need some help covering the costs of the July 9 event at Castillo Blanco Art Studios, The Bicycle: 150 Years of History and Art. To that end, I’ve set up a Go Fund Me campaign.

I know what you are thinking: why don’t I just give my money directly to Bike Easy? Well, you could do that, but this way you help fund Bike Easy and get a really fun educational event.

Donate here!

https://www.gofundme.com/biketastic

19th Century Bicycle History Ride

June 15, 2016:

Meet at Cafe Rouler at 6:00 pm.

A mobile app enhanced historical ride that follows the formation of the original New Orleans Bicycle Club in 1881 to the site of the Audubon Driving Park, New Orleans’ first venue for bicycle racing. We’ll also pass by the clubhouse of the Louisiana Cycling Club, built specially for the club in 1890.

Follow the Facebook Event Page for details.

Pennyfarthing-1886 Small

Through the mobile app, downloadable at neworleanshistorical.org, participants will be able to view historical images related to each site.

This is a one-time, free event open to the public.

We will assemble at Cafe Rouler and visit two historical sites in the CBD before riding up St. Charles Avenue (or a less conjested parallel street) to Audubon Park.

You can read my article on the Audubon Driving Park here:

https://www.knowlouisiana.org/43833/

To sign up for the ride, please email me at lacar.musgrove@gmail.com.