The history of artistic cycling and cycle-ball

The history of artistic cycling and cycle-ball starts with the American, Nicholas Edward Kaufmann. His father emigrated from Switzerland to North America. Kaufmann was born 1861 in Rochester, New York (USA) and he died in Berlin in 1943. In addition to his athletic skills Kaufmann possessed creative, artistic and organizational talents, so that he could become the acclaimed pioneer of the sport.

Nick Kaufmann was a good swimmer, gymnast and skater. But the bicycle has always challenged him to try acrobatic tricks on it. At this time cycling races were already very popular. The break during cycling races was a good opportunity for Kaufmann to show his acrobatic tricks on the bicycle to a large audience.

After the first cycling race was held in Paris on 31 May 1868, cycling races spread out quickly in Europe and North America. Beside the races, the presentation of figures on the bicycle as they were known from gymnastics, also became popular. The performances were presented on the “Michauline” with iron-clad wheels. Pictures of a training room for ”Vélocipèden” in Paris from 1869 and a indoor cycling sport festival of the Magdeburger Velocipeden Club in 1874 bear witness to this.

In 1888, Nick Kaufmann became World Champion in “Professional Cycle Trick Riding”. Nick Kaufmann is also regarded as the inventor of cycle-ball. The story of the little dog, which inspired him in 1893 to play a ball with the wheel, may be fictitious, but maybe it gets the gist.

(by Norbert Diehl, Head of “Rheinhessisches Bicycle Museum”)