On this day in history: 7th November 1869 – The first bicycle road race is held, between the two French cities of Paris and Rouen – and is won by Englishman James Moore….

James Moore (right) – Public domain

20-year-old Moore, who lived in France, completed the course in 10 hours and 40 minutes – 15 minutes ahead of the next competitors to cross the finishing line…. The first prize was 1,000 gold francs and a bicycle….

The race was organised by cycling magazine ‘Le Vélocipède Illustré’ and the Olivier brothers, owners of the Michaud Company – a bicycle manufacturing business…. 325 riders entered the event, including two women; there were so many entrants that the organisers feared for safety and the riders were split into groups…. Only 32 finished the race within 24 hours; the first woman to cross the finishing line, known as ‘Miss America’, finished in 29th place – 12 hours and 10 minutes after Moore….

Masthead of the first edition of Le Velocipede Illustre, 1st April 1869 – Public domain

The race took them through St. Germain, Mantes, Vernon and Louviers; it started at the Arc de Triomphe and ended in the centre of Rouen…. The rules stipulated bicycles were not allowed to be pulled along by dogs or use sails….

James Moore had only got his first bicycle four years previously, in 1865…. It was an old, heavy wooden ‘bone shaker’….

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