The Modern Cyclist 1923, Kuklos, 2013
A facsimile ‘annual’ from
Old House 9781908402622 146pp paperback £6.99
Kuklos’ place as perhaps the most widely-read cycling writer in the English language is little-known today. Unsurprising perhaps – his forty-year stint as a weekly cycling columnist in the mainstream press ended with his death in 1939. Nonetheless, scratch away at what he was saying ninety years ago and more, and you will find bedrock wisdom that informs cyclists to this day – even if few realise from whence such nostrums were plucked.
Until now, alas, finding any of his work has been difficult – save for increasingly expensive antiquarian form. Publication of his ‘The Modern Cyclist 1923’ is then welcome.
It is one of various ‘annuals’ published bearing Kuklos name over the years (to some of which he contributed very little, particularly towards the end of his life). The form is familiar – with a few nips and tucks over the years.
There is general section on cyclecraft, tips and tricks of the road and bicycling etiquette. In this variant, Kuklos then supplies a selection of ‘potted tours’, most of them multi day tours of ‘The Yorkshire Dales’, ‘Cornwall’, ‘The Western Rivers’ and the like. Following this is a listing of more than 3,000 rest houses the length and breath of the British Isles and some in France.
In many respects it is a slightly odd choice for a facsimile edition. There are all sorts of crumbs of incidental interest, but scarcely the meat of the author’s longer pieces.
Among the former, Kuklos’ enthusiasm for the cape over the coat, his notes on carrying you kit on your rack wrapped in ‘American’ cloth, and his warning to never listen to a doctor who advises against cycling. “Most (doctors) are now motorists – partly by the necessity of time-saving and partially for social ‘swank”, he cautions. Young doctors have no experience of cycling, old ones have no experience of modern bicycles, he goes on, the judgement of all of them is therefore “warped” and can be safely ignored.
There is much else beside to stimulate the curious. Kuklos proffers an enthusiastically sectarian taxonomy of ‘resthouses’. Broadly speaking, if the Royal Automobile Club is for it – he is agin and he strongly favours establishments run by the People’s Refreshment House Association.
All of that said, these are rather meagre pickings, given what a trove of Kuklos material there is upon which to draw. And given that casual readers are unlikey to know anything of the author, a biographical introduction would have made this a more worthwhile product.
TD June 13