Author: Sue Macy
Publisher: National Geographic
ISBN: 2010027141
Click Here To Purchase Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)

This delightful history of the impact that the invention and popularization of the bicycle made on bettering women’s lives during the closing decades of the 19th century is both informative and entertaining. The book explores the bicycle culture of the late Victorian era, showing how women were liberated from their mundane domestic existence by the new mode of transport. The short features appearing at the end of each chapter cover a wide variety of fascinating topics: from celebrity cyclists, through cycling slang, songs and press, to selling with cycles, covering the use of bicycles in publicity ventures. It was amazing to find out how ubiquitously bicycles were used in marketing, even at a stage when such a mode of transport sometimes ran counter to prevailing mores.
In addition to the main body of the text, which is illustrated on nearly every page with either a black-and-white or full-color photo, additional inserts tell of women who received U.S. patents for bicycle-related inventions during the late 19th century, and of cycle options for women. Potted pen biographies are given of leading female cyclists of the period, including Alice Austen, Charlotte Smith, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, Dora Rinehart, and Frances Willard. Macy has also included a number of newspaper reports of the day, including a list
of don’ts for women cyclists taken from the
Omaha Daily Bee and “Drew the Line at Bloomers: British Columbia Police Object to a Woman’s Bicycle Costume,” taken from the Brooklyn Eagle. In addition to her inclusion of a timeline giving highlights in cycling and women’s history, Macy also provides a short annotated list of books and web sites that can be consulted for further information. She also recommends that interested readers visit the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, Ohio and the Metz Bicycle Museum in Freehold, New Jersey. The book ends in a comprehensive index.     
National Geographic has an outstanding reputation for top-class publications that are both exceptionally well illustrated as well as written by experts who are extremely knowledgeable in their own fields. The author of Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) was herself addicted to bicycle riding from a young age (as can be seen in the photo of her at age four, posed alongside her bicycle, with a resolute expression on her face, as though she’s saying “I’m going to get there, no matter what—brakes off!”). This is Macy’s fifth book for National Geographic, and most definitely not her first venture into writing about sport. Two of her previous books are Higher Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics and Freeze Frame: A Photographic History of the Winter Olympics. This book, too, does her proud, as she clearly has researched her subject very well. Her accessible and lighthearted style makes what she has to say all the more accessible and enjoyable. This book is an absolute winner, and should appeal not only to cycling enthusiasts and to those who are interested in women’s rights, but also to all those with a keen interest in the impact of technological developments on the social evolution of America.     

Click Here To Purchase Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)