Professional Racer Woody Hedspeth 1903

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Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
In Memoriam
We all know about Major Taylor - Does anyone know anything about Woody?

This is from The Bicycling World 1903

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This is a terrific, old postcard with an image of Woody Hedspeth, American bicycle race champion. The card is French and the information printed on the front says, "Hedspath (misspelled) champion americain, sur Bicyclette "L'Albatross," Tires "Le Persan," Tige de selle elastique "Porthos." Translation is, "Hedspeth, American champion, on bicycle 'The Albtross', tires 'The Persian one,' stem of saddle, 'Porthos'." You can read L'Albatros on his jersey. Albatross bicycle was built by the Mead Cycle Company, Chicago, Illinois.
The Dec. 7th New York Times carried an article about Woody Hedspeth participating in a six day bicycle race starting at Madison Square Garden in 1903, as part of a two man "colored" team with Melvin T. Dove, both from the Calumet Team.
is an excerpt from that article: "CYCLISTS IN LONG RACE; Six Days' Contest Starts with Seventeen Two-Men Teams. Cheering Crowds in Madison Square Garden Last Night and This Morning -- Close Struggle Expected... Four minutes after midnight this morning the eleventh annual international championship six-day team bicycle race was begun in the Madison Square Garden, and the, big amphitheatre was Jammed with a record-breaking crowd. Of the eighteen tearing, entered; seventeen started, the men being sent on their way by James J. Corbett, ex-heavy weight champion pugilist... Following are the names of the riders at the beginning of the race: Simar, Bettich, Breton, Vanderstuyft, Nat Butler, Floyd Krebs, Jacobson, John Bedell, Franz Krebs, Root, Galvin, Keegan, Fisher, Hudsbeth, Walthour, KRamer, and Mc. Lean."

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I live for the CABE

I believe he was also from Indianapolis though the article says Chicago. Not much is known of him unfortunately. Like Taylor, he was a very successful racer in Europe and to some extent the US. They were friends clearly. I have some French sports magazines featuring Taylor and Hedspeth is pictured with him on several occasions. From what I've been able to find on him he raced in Europe until he was 50, married a ballet dancer and settled in Belgium. The postcard below shows Hedspeth holding Taylor before a race. Also in he picture is American boxer Sam McVey, another friend of Taylor's.
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I live for the CABE
this is why I love the CABE-almost every time I come to check something out, I learn something new. Great info on these two unheralded black athletes.


I live for the CABE


Six day racing was a dangerous pastime, and that's what made it exciting. I mean, besides all the betting. But maybe not as dangerous as motor paced racing on board tracks. Notice the mention of Harry Elkes in this 1903 article:

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He had been killed on the banks in May of that year.

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