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Imagine that it is 1865.

You are
riding a wooden bicycle. It has steel
wheels. The hard wheels bump along
the road. The bicycle shakes badly,
and so do you. The bicycle is called
a “boneshaker”.

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Now imagine that it is 1871. You
are riding a bicycle with a large front
wheel and a small back wheel. You
are sitting up really high. You have
to be careful that you don’t fall off!

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The bicycle is called a “penny
farthing.” A penny was a large English
coin and a farthing was a small
English coin. Only brave people rode
penny farthings!

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In the 1870s, most girls did not
often ride bicycles. Girls who did
ride bicycles wore long pants called
bloomers under their dresses.

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Today, there are many old
bicycles in museums. Some people
even collect them for fun.

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Today, bicycles come in many
shapes and sizes. Some of them are very
expensive. Others do not cost much
money at all. With so many kinds, it
can be hard to choose a bicycle!

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Today, many bicycles have gears.
These gears can make it easier or
harder to pedal. Bicycles used for
racing have light frames so riders
can go faster. Bicycles used on dirt or
mountain trails have strong frames.

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Today, many states have laws
that say that bicycle riders must wear
helmets. Some people wear pads to
protect their arms and legs too. It is
important that all riders know and
follow bicycle rules.

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Some places have bicycle safety
classes for children. They are usually
held in parking lots. The ground is
marked with chalk so it looks like
many streets. Children ride around the
chalk streets and learn to ride safely.

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Long ago, people rode bicycles to
get places. Today, they ride them to
get places and for exercise and fun.
That’s why bicycle riding is a favorite
pastime around the world.

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Think Critically
1. Why do you think the 1865 bicycle was called a
“boneshaker”?
2. Why do you think it was usually brave people
who rode penny farthings?

3. What do the laws in many states say that bicycle


riders must wear?

4. Why do you think the author included dates in


this book?

5. Which bicycle from the book would you like to ride?


Why?

Social Studies
Write the Rules Write three rules you need to remember
when riding your bicycle in your community. Draw a picture of
someone on a bicycle obeying the rules.

School-Home Connection Read Riding Bicycles to a


family member. Then talk about why riding bicycles is a
good thing for people to do.

Word Count: 369

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