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Climatic Catastrophe 1816/17

Bild: Running machine built to measure plus uniformed staff messenger
Running machine built to measure plus uniformed staff messenger
In 1815 volcano Tambora near Bali explodes bringing death to more than 50,000 islanders and blowing 100 cubic miles of dust into the atmosphere. This generates a climatic catastrophe in the northern hemisphere a year later: snowfall during summer, crop failure, famine and starving horses. We don't know, how Drais arrived at the two-wheeler principle. One can merely speculate that he learned with his 4-wheeled Driving Machines that they were easier to push than to pedal (their wheel diameter should have been more than 7 feet according to present-day knowledge).

At any rate the earliest two-wheeled spin in history is known from period newspaper clippings. It happened on the 12th of June (not July) 1817, a Thursday, on Baden's best road between Mannheim and the relay station before Schwetzingen: 8 miles there and back within an hour. This average, remarkable for the rider of a Dutch bicycle even today, meant that on two wheels man was faster without than with a horse! Columbus' egg in the ongoing famine and starving of horses!

The news spread like a wildfire, and mechanics in other cities, Dresden especially, built Drais' running machine from the news text alone, often with many modifications.

Bild: New Drais monument near turning point of first spin © Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing
New Drais monument near turning point of first spin © Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing


© Sören Fink with scientific support of Prof. Dr. H. E. Lessing