International Six Day Bicycle Race
December 30, 1900—January 4, 1901
Park Square Garden cycle track
December 29, 1900 Pre Race Events:
½ Mile amateur championship: 25 entries
1 mile Professional handicap race:
25 mile championship race (Not paced)
This race was the first six-day team bicycle race ever held indoors in Boston.
The format that is being used is the racer will ride 10 hours each day for six days in a row.
Jean Gougoltz (Sui)
Jean Fischer (Fra)
Rodolfo Muller (Italy)
Hugh McLean (Usa) Boston, Massachusetts
William C. Stinson (USA) Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bobby Walthour (Usa) Atlanta
Archie McEachern (Can) Toronto, Canada
Karl Kaser (Ger)
Louis Gimm (Usa) Pittsburgh
Jules Dubois (Usa) Brockton, Massachusetts
Fritz Ryser (Ger)
Hippolyte Accoutrier (Fra)
Charles Turville (Usa) Philadelphia
Frank Waller (Ger)
M. Fredericks (Sui)
Oscar V. Babcock (Usa) New York City
Burton Downey (Usa) San Jose California
Day 1 Results:
Karl Kaser set the new 100 mile record in 4 hours 27 minutes 21.35 seconds. Kaser completed 150 miles in 6 hours 53 minutes and 22.25 seconds. Louis Gimm crashed with a group of riders three and half hours into the event and reopened a leg wound he had sustained in New York several weeks earlier. Gimm had to leave the race to be hospitalized. Fritz Ryser had a spill and was injured. Turville and Waller had to abandon because of fitness and injury issues.
Day 2 Results:
Fritz Ryser and Hippolyte Accoutrier withdrew from the race in the afternoon both riders feeling the stress of the racing. During the afternoon M. Fredericks fell one lap behind the leaders and withdrew at the end of the day. The racers challenged one another repeatedly during the last hour of competition today. The pace was terrific and competition tight. "The 300-mile mark was passed in 14 hours 25 minutes and 48.25 seconds. The final sprint was an extremely hot one and Kaser won out. He was pushed by McEachern, McLean, Walthour and Stinson. McLean had a fall on the last lap, but was not seriously hurt."
Day 3 Results:
Harry Elkes has been attempting each night to set a new record for the mile. "At 10 o’clock the motor tandem came out, and while the six-day men loafed at a foot pace on the pole, Harry Elkes went an exhibition mile. He made the quarter in 25.45, the half in 52 seconds, the three quarters in 1:17 and the mile in 1 minute 42 2/5 seconds. His time was two fifths of a second ahead of his Tuesday night performance. He is riding under the colors of the Metropolitan Wheelmen and each night during the week will try for the record." The five hundred mile was passed this evening in 25 hours 31 minutes and 42 seconds with Karl Kaser in the lead.
Day 4 Results:
Bobby Walthour made his mark this evening, letting everyone know that he is here in Boston to win the six-day race. The competition is tight with seven of the riders finishing in 759 miles 4 laps. Walthour led Stinson by 10 feet from the finish line.
Day 5 Results:
The 26 year old Canadian cycling champion Archie McEachern from Toronto took to the lead tonight. McEachern has been strong and fast all week setting the pace for the competition. McEachern lost by a wheel length two weeks ago on December 16, 1900 at the New York Six-Day at Madison Square Garden. His teammate was fellow Canadian from Nova Scotia, Burns Pierce. It appears that the final evening will be hotly contested between McEachern, Stinson, Walthour and McLean.
This six-day bicycle race took place in Boston from December 1900 to January 1901. It was the first six-day race to be held in Boston using the team format. Also this was only the third time a six-day race had been held (Two in New York City December 1899 and December 1900). This was a time of transition in the history of six-day bicycle racing as race organizers and wheelmen’s associations were moving from the format of the solo six-day bicycle race to the new team six-day format. How would the new team six-day bike race be organized and scored?
The six-day format that was used in Boston focused on the riders being on the track for 10 hours a day. The racers total mileage and laps ridden were scored and times were recorded for various distances, then were completed and compared to ‘world records’ that existed in the solo six-day format. For example, newspaper reports noted that Kaser set a new 100 mile record of 4 hours 27 minutes 21.35 seconds. The previous record having been set by the famous solo six-day racer Charles W. Miller.
The six-day format also included nightly exhibition races. For example Harry Elkes, who had won the New York Six-Day Race in December 1900 with Floyd MacFarland as his partner, would be attempting to set a new world record for the one mile distance. During an intermission in the racing Elkes would take to the track, warm-up and attempt to set the record. A tandem motor cycle was used to pace Elkes.
One curious point was that there was an extensive list of 33 six-day racers that were scheduled to race, but only 17 riders started the Boston International Six-Day Race on December 31, 1900.
A Manitoba Morning Free Press Report for December 30, 1900 identified sixteen six-day racers, not part of the original start list, as participating in the Boston International Six-Day Bicycle Race. That list included: Sigmar, Chevalier, Hans Jauk, Nat Butler, Hugh McLean, Otto Maya, Floyd A. McFarland, Harry Elkes, Howard freeman, Bennie Munroe, George Leander, Bill Lutz (?), Paddy Keehan, Floyd Krebes, Charles McConnell, and Roy Carol.
There may be several factors why the Boston 6-day lacked complete participation from the professional six-day cyclists’ ranks:
The first was that the second annual Madison Square Garden, New York Six Day had taken place from December 10-15 1900 and many of the same riders who raced in New York were scheduled to ride at Boston. The two week interlude between the two races may not have been enough time for the riders to fully recuperate. As well the Christmas holiday period occurred at this time and many riders were celebrating with family and friends and perhaps not interested in another ‘6 day grind.’
While the Boston six-day bicycle race was advertised as a team event, the organizers appeared to have changed the scoring format from team to an individual racers format. With only 14 six-day racers in the race after the first day the organizers may have decided to use the solo six-day format with each rider on the track only 10 hours per day.
Secondly, what we do know from reading the newspaper reports, was that professional and amateur riders not only came to Boston to participate in the six-day but to race in the 25 mile championship and other racing events that took place the day before the six-day race commenced.
Professional bicycle racing was the leading spectator sports event in the last few decades of the 19th century and for the first decade of the 20th century. The races were followed in the local and regional newspapers and racing fans would flock to the outside velodromes (cycling tracks) and indoor arenas to witness the cycling stars. In one newspaper write-up they noted that one evening over 10,000 spectators were in attendance at the Park Square Garden.
On December 29, 1900 they held the 25 Mile Championship. Twenty-two riders started the race. The competition was stiff and included some of the best bicycle racers from the northeast and south eastern USA as well as Canada, and an experienced group of riders from France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland.
In the 25 mile championship race the youthful bicycle star from Toronto, Canada, Archie McEachern was in a tight competition with William C. Stinson, Bobby Walthour, the German racer Ryser and the local racer Hugh McLean. A crash in the sixth mile by Joseph Downey took down Kaser, Gimm, Dubois and Walthour.
While newspaper reports suggest that the crashes were minor it is of interest to note that many of the bicycle racers that participated in the 25 mile Championship Race did not start the 6-day event. We can speculate that the rider’s injuries during the 25 mile Championship were significant enough to require rest and recuperation.
Thirdly, the New York City, Madison Square Garden Six-Day was a difficult ride and there were many crashes. In particular Oscar Aaronson of Brooklyn crashed heavily and had to be hospitalized. He died on December 22, 1900 due to complications from pneumonia. His death may have motivated some of the racers not start the Boston International Six-Day Race.
Fourthly, in New York on December 28, 1900 a cycle race was held in Madison Square Garden in New York. This was a 15 mile motor paced race that was won by Jimmy Michael over William C. Stinson. There was also a mile professional handicap race that was won by Chris McConnell of Boston over R.A. Carol of Worcester and Floyd McFarland of San Jose California. This cycle race so close to the start of the Boston International Six-Day Bicycle Race may have prevented some competitors from traveling to Boston.
Finally, Boston is a very conservative town and the municipally elected officials have a long history of passing "Blue Laws" that limit the hours an establishment can be open. Promoters may have run into problems staging a 24 hour day six-day bicycle race and thus chose to run a 10 hour a day event.
Whatever the circumstances of the Boston International Six-Day Bicycle Race the racing was exciting and dramatic. The lead shifted on a daily basis with Bobby Walthour from Atlanta, Georgia leading on the first, second, fourth and winning the overall race on the 6th and final day. Karl Kaser of Germany was leading on day three and was second on days two and five. Archie McEachern was in the lead after day five and finished third overall. William C. Stinson a local racer from Cambridge, Massachusetts was always in the money placing second on day one and four on day two, third on day five and second overall at the finish line.