Cycling History

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael: Welsh Cycling Champion, 1877-1904

Herne Hill, Saturday 30 June 1894. Twenty-two competitors line up in the Summer heat for the Surrey Bicycle Club 100 Mile Invitation Race. Among them is a seventeen year old from Aberaman who stands at a little over five feet tall and tips the scales at just over seven stone. The pace is furious, 24 miles 475 yards being covered in the first hour. At 46 miles the young Welshman laps the field. At 50 miles he sets a new record of 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 42 seconds. After 100 miles he emerges the winner in a time of 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 39 seconds. He is 2 miles ahead of the second placed rider, H. B. Hoch of Silverdale CC and has beaten the record of his near neighbour, the Aberaman cyclist Arthur Linton, by exactly 10 minutes. James ‘Jimmy’ Michael had announced his arrival in the world of track racing in emphatic fashion.[1]

Jimmy Michael

Jimmy Michael

Born at 26 Woodland Terrace, Aberdare, Glamorgan on 9 November, 1877, to John Michael, butcher, and Elizabeth, née Tanner, Jimmy Michael was raised in Aberaman by his paternal grandmother, Ann Michael, following the death of his father. Ann was the owner of a butcher’s shop where Jimmy worked as a delivery boy running errands by bicycle.[2] As a boy he began racing, achieving success from 1890 onwards in races throughout South Wales, most notably his victory in the 5 mile race at the Roath Ground in Cardiff in 1892.[3] Already known in the South Wales cycling scene his success at the Surrey 100 made him a popular figure and brought him to the notice of a wider cycling fraternity.

On Saturday 8 September, 1894, Jimmy entered the only event staged at the Cardiff Harlequins 44th Athletic Meeting. Lining up with Tom Linton, R. H. Pugh (both also Aberaman men), D, W, Roe, A. Angle, and J. Element, he secured another victory in the 100 miles championship. The race was limited to 5½ hrs and was paced by tandems. Tactical nous was required as riders could choose to stop to rest or take on refreshments, during which time they would lose ground on the other competitors. As Jimmy put it in an interview in 1895, “A man can ride fifteen miles an hour without feeling it, but if he stops for one minute only he as to do a twenty-mile pace for the next one to pull that back.”[4] After 20 miles Jimmy was ½ mile in the lead. By 35 miles he had extended the lead to 2 miles. Tom Linton, perhaps his main rival on the day, was bedevilled with mechanical failures changing his bike and suffering a puncture. Jimmy crossed the line in first place in a time of 5 hours, 8 minutes and 45 seconds, and 5 miles ahead of second placed Linton.[5]

The physical effort of racing at that level at such an early age told on Jimmy. A week later at Herne Hill he rode “indifferently and retired killed by the pace at 5 miles” during the 50 Miles Amateur Championship.[6] On Saturday 12 September at the 12 hours Anchor Shield Race he managed a total distance of 104 miles, again retiring from the race. The winner, A. E. Walters of Polytechnic CC recorded a distance of 258 miles and 120 yards.

Despite these late season setbacks Jimmy had done more than enough by winning the Surrey 100 and the Welsh Championship to earn the attention of ‘Choppy’ Warburton, an ex-champion runner turned cycling coach who already had the Linton brothers, Arthur and Tom, in his stable. Turning professional Jimmy accompanied Warburton to Paris, the world centre of track cycling. In November he was reported as having recovered his lost form since turning professional when he participated in a 100 kilometre race. Unfortunately despite leading the field with Jules Dubois a touch of wheels brought him down, taking him out of the race.[7] Accidents were, and still are, part and parcel of track racing and though no doubt disappointed the crash did not affect Jimmy’s riding. 1895 was to prove a very successful year for the young Welshman.

Third place in a 100km race at the Velodrome d’Hiver in March 1895 demonstrated that Jimmy was in form.[8] On 19 May Jimmy took the 100 miles world record at the Velodrome Buffalo having taken the lead at the start of the race and holding it throughout.[9] His time of 4 hours, 2 minutes and 45 seconds was not to last long. A few weeks later, on 8 June, Jimmy broke his own record during a 6 hour race at the Velodrome Buffalo becoming the first person to go under 4 hours for 100 miles, and breaking all intermediate records from 50 to 100 miles in the process. To add further gloss to his time of 3 hours, 53 minutes and 5 seconds, his total distance of 239 kilometres during the 6 hour race beat Arthur Linton’s previous record by 20 kilometres.

More victories and more records swiftly followed. By the end of July he had repeated his world record time, winning the 100 Mile Championship at Catford, while in France he had won two 6 hour races, four 100 kilometre races, a 100 mile race, a 20 kilometre race, and a 50 kilometre race.[10] Following this he was selected to ride for England at the International Cycling Meeting held at Cologne in August where he won the motor-paced 100 Kilometre Open Professional World Championship in a time of 2 hours, 24 minutes and 58 seconds, three miles ahead of second placed Luyten from Antwerp.[11] In September at a packed Velodrome Buffalo he rode a handicapped 50 kilometre race against the French national champion Lucien Lesna. The 1 kilometre handicap proved too much for Jimmy to win against the previous year’s winner of Bordeaux – Paris, Paris – Saint-Malo, and Paris – Bar-le-Duc, with Jimmy crossing the line two lengths behind Lesna having made up all bar a few metres of the kilometre. In the process he had broken Lesna’s hour record with a distance of 46 kilometres, 2 metres, and had set new records for 30, 40, and 50 kilometres, the last being 1 hour, 5 minutes, and 14 seconds.[12]

Arthur Linton, “Choppy” Warburton, Jimmy Michael, and Tom Linton

Arthur Linton, “Choppy” Warburton, Jimmy Michael, and Tom Linton

In all Jimmy lost just three races in 1895,[13] the last of which in a much hyped face-off with Arthur Linton over 50 miles at the Cardiff Harlequins ground in Roath on 7 October. Up to that point Linton and Jimmy had never met in a race and it appears that there was some tension between them, with Linton being resentful of the fame and success of a protégé who had begun to eclipse him. ‘Choppy’ Warburton, was allegedly against the race, being of the opinion that both had fair claims to championship honours.[14] This seems unlikely. As their manager, ‘Choppy’ could have prevented them from riding and was no doubt more pleased than not with the publicity the event generated for his riders.

For Welsh sporting fans the opportunity to see Linton and Jimmy, both of whom were from Aberaman, race against each other in Cardiff was an opportunity not to be missed. A capacity crowd packed the ground to watch them set off at 4 o’clock, paced by a quadruplet bike. Linton’s pacemakers helped him to lap Jimmy and by the twentieth mile he was half a mile ahead. Despite Jimmy’s best efforts the situation did not change and with four or five laps to go he gave up, leaving Linton to finish alone in a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 31 seconds.[15]

This rare defeat had no lasting impact on Jimmy. November saw him back to winning ways when he beat his rival Émile Bonhours by 8 laps over a 50 kilometre race at the Velodrome d’Hiver.[16] While later in the month he defeated the British cyclist Charley Barden in a 20 mile match during which Jimmy demonstrated a harder edge to his riding. Unable to ride away from Barden who was on his wheel Jimmy back-pedalled, forcing Barden to do likewise to avoid a crash. Jimmy immediately leapt away to open a gap that gave him the win. Today he would have been disqualified for dangerous riding. In 1895 he was praised for “extraordinary cuteness in professional tactics.” [17]

The last months of 1895 saw concerted efforts by ‘Choppy’ to promote his champion rider. The Sporting Life of Tuesday 17 September published an open letter from ‘Choppy’ in which he offered to match Jimmy “the present champion of the world” to ride against anyone in a best of three challenge of “one mile , five miles, and ten miles, or a longer distance, if required, up to twelve hours”. The American cyclist, John S. Johnson, was his preferred opponent.[18] Johnson, equally keen to enhance his palmares and his bank account, issued his own challenge and in November 1985 ‘Choppy’ cabled America to offer £500 aside for three races between Jimmy and Johnson to take place in either France or the States.[19] By December a series of six races, two in America, two in Paris, and two in England, had been agreed on, the races to take place in early 1896.

Nearer to home William Spears Simpson sought to promote his chain design, the Simpson Lever Chain, by offering ten-to-one odds that riders using his chain would beat those riding with standard chains. In October ‘Choppy’ wrote to Sporting Life, with an offer to match Jimmy against any rider Simpson wished to select in paced races of one hour, 50 miles, and 100 miles, with odds of £200 to £100 that Jimmy would win two out of the three events.[20] By November Jimmy was riding on a Simpson chain at the Velodrome d’Hiver in a race in which he won well against Bonhours and Fournier.[21] Presumably a deal had been struck between Warburton and Simpson. What is known is that the Simpson ‘Chain Races’ of 1896 were the occasion for the darker side of professional cycling to come under the spotlight and a troubled period for Jimmy.

Sketch of Jimmy Michael by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec for an intended Simpson Chain advertisement

Sketch of Jimmy Michael by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec for an intended Simpson Chain advertisement

Sunday 15 December 1895 had seen Jimmy suffer a rare defeat when he fell during the fourth lap of a 100 kilometre race at the Velodrome d’Hiver.[22] The winner, Willie Lumsden, was later to complain to the manager of the velodrome regarding the docking of his prize money to pay for the pacemakers, further refusing to ratify another match against the Welshman.[23] Tension between Jimmy and the Linton’s was also to the fore when Jimmy wrote an open letter to Sporting Life in January 1896 responding to boasts by Tom Linton in the South Wales press that he could beat Jimmy and that Arthur was “champion of the world”. Claiming that he was “middle-distance champion of the world”, Jimmy laid down an open challenge to both brothers to race them at either the Velodrome Buffalo or Velodrome d’Hiver over distances of 100 kilometre or 100 miles, or in a 6 hour race. The race never came off and it is not difficult to see Choppy Warburton’s hand in what may well have been a ploy to drum up further press interest in the exploits of his three most successful riders.

On the track Jimmy was in fine form. On January 26 a crowd of 15,000 gathered at the Velodrome d’Hiver to watch a best of three match series between Jimmy and the French short distance champion, Edmond Jacquelin. The bill comprised 2 kilometre, 10 kilometre, and 5 kilometre races, each to be paced. Riding a Gladiator bicycle with Simpson chain and Dunlop tyres Jimmy beat the two-to-one favourite Jacquelin over his preferred distance of 2km, sprinting to the line while the Frenchman sat up, realising he had lost. The win in the second race of 10 kilometres was even more emphatic, with Jacquelin retiring after 4 laps unable to keep up with the pace set by Jimmy who rode on to complete the full distance at an average speed of 30 miles per hour to a roaring ovation. First to shake him by the hand were Mr Darriacq of the Gladiator company and William Stead Simpson.[24]

His next win at the Velodrome d’Hiver was less ecstatically received. Designed as a spectacle rather than a true sporting event Jimmy lined up against Amelie Le Gall who rode under the name Mademoiselle Lisette and was recognised as the fastest of the women cyclists at the velodrome. Lisette was awarded a 7 kilometre advantage over 50 kilometres and Jimmy caught her after 31 kilometres. The crowd watched in grim silence, broken by the occasional caustic remark as Jimmy lapped Lisette every 4-5 laps and completed the distance in 1 hour, 5 minutes, and 50 seconds, Lisette having completed a perfectly credible 38 kilometres in the same time.

February saw Jimmy return to Wales for a break where the highlight, for his fans at least, was the banquet held in his honour at the Lamb and Flag in his home town of Aberaman. With his prizes on display and under the motto “Aberaman Cyclists are Supreme”, Jimmy and the rest of the 150 strong party enjoyed a sumptuous dinner followed by numerous toasts, effusive speeches, and a number of songs, including one composed by Joe Evans, the well known comic singer, to the tune of ‘The Blind Irish Girl, all joining in enthusiastically with the chorus:

“The pride of the cycle is young Jimmy Michael
With muscles hard as iron, and a heart as true as steel,
His banner he’s unfurled, as champion of the world,
Here’s good health and wealth to the knight of the wheel.”[25]

As enjoyable as his break may have been the need to earn his living remained constant. In February the Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo reported that Jimmy intended to rest before training for a meet at the Agricultural Hall, London, in late March.[26] Three exhibition rides were planned for the week-long event, 10 miles on the Monday, 20 miles on the Wednesday, and 25 miles on the Saturday.[27] On March 30 Jimmy attempted to break the 5 mile record at the Agricultural Hall but failed to do so after recording three false starts thanks to faulty starter’s pistols and a rifle that failed to go off, and a problem with a pedal that forced him to abandon the afternoon attempt. He returned to the track in the evening but ended 1 second slower than the record set the previous Monday.[28]

By April 2 press reports were claiming that Jimmy was prepared not to ride at the Agricultural Hall if the rival Olympia track paid him £100 to ride there instead.[29] A deal must have been struck as the following Wednesday saw Jimmy break the world records for 4 and 6 miles at the Olympia, followed by the 5 mile record on Saturday 11 April.[30] A few days later the Evening Express reported that Jimmy had entered into an agreement to not attempt record breaking rides at any track other than Olympia.[31]

April also saw a flurry of press speculation about Jimmy’s private life as reports circulated of his secretly conducted marriage to a young and wealthy lady from Coventry, alleged to be a fan who had travelled to Paris with the purpose of meeting him. The cycling columnist of the South Wales Daily Post, “The Wheeler”, was scathing of these and other reports that the marriage was in fact to the daughter of Jimmy’s previous employer, a butcher from Aberaman who had given Jimmy his first bicycle. As a one-time near neighbour “The Wheeler” dismissed the report as he knew for “an absolute fact” that Jimmy had only been employed in his grandmother’s butcher’s shop as a delivery boy.[32] Jimmy had in fact married Frances ‘Fanny’ Lewis the daughter of Aberaman butcher, David Lewis, on 13 March at Cardiff Registry Office. As Fanny was not yet 18 the marriage had been kept secret.[33]

Back on the track Jimmy’s next target was the world hour record, regarded today as the blue riband event in any cyclist’s career. The first recorded hour record was that of the American rider, Frank Dodds, who covered 16.471 miles on a penny-farthing in 1876. Twenty years later 12,000 spectators flocked to the Wood Green track in London on Saturday 16 May 1896 in high expectation that Jimmy would be the first to cover 30 miles in 60 minutes of riding himself into the ground. As with all his races Jimmy was to be paced around the track and the French pacemakers from the Gladiator team were on hand to help. The pacemakers, understandably concerned for their safety, refused to ride the “sixtette” that had been built for the occasion, lacking confidence in the soundness of the machine at full speed. After an hour Jimmy had failed to hit the magical mark of 30 miles, and had covered 28 miles, 1634 yards, just shy of a quarter of mile less than A. A. Chase had recorded for the hour at Wood Green the previous Thursday.[34]

Jimmy Michael and Choppy Warburton

Jimmy Michael and Choppy Warburton

Choppy initially blamed the weather, later laying the responsibility for Jimmy’s failure entirely with bad pacing.[35] Friction between the pacemakers and the star riders was not uncommon, with the former arguing that the record times achieved by the latter were only possible because of the help the pacemakers gave to the likes of the Linton’s, Huret, Jacquelin, and Jimmy. At the Velodrome Buffalo on the Thursday prior to Jimmy’s hour attempt the pacemakers had sought to renegotiate their fee with Tom Linton at the start of a 50 kilometre race. Linton, realising he would be out of pocket if he agreed to their demands, left the track leading to uproar among the waiting crowd and a riot ensued. Choppy harangued the crowd from the railings but no-one understood what the Lancastrian was saying. The police collared him and the crowd, fickle as crowds can be, rushed to his aid, released him, and carried Choppy off in triumph. Blame was laid squarely at the feet of the pacemakers, who were banned from the Buffalo and the Velodrome du Seine. Pacing was clearly important to the success of the elite professionals but a more likely explanation for Jimmy’s failure to secure the hour record at Wood Green may be that Jimmy, who had not often been riding competitively in the preceding weeks, was experiencing a dip in form.

Such scenes as those at the Velodrome Buffalo were uncommon but they serve to highlight the tension within the world of track racing where huge sums of money could be earned by an elite few. At a time when a typical manufacturing worker in England earned £30 to £40 a year[36] the sums that could be won in track racing were phenomenal. Jimmy was rumoured to be earning £150, several times that sum, for one week’s racing in Olympia alone.[37] Typically he might earn £80 for a win, £60 for a defeat, and bring in £1,500 to £2,000 a year from appearance fees, winnings, and retainers paid by the likes of Gladiator, Simpson, and Dunlop, who paid Jimmy to use their equipment. With such rewards on offer the incentive to perform was extremely high.

Ten days after Jimmy failed to break the hour his rival and stable-mate, Tom Linton, became the first to go over 30 miles in a ride at the Velodrome du Seine, Paris.[38] Jimmy, continuing to ride in Britain, achieved a run of record breaking successes at the Olympia. Between Wednesday 27 and Saturday 30 May he set world records for 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 miles respectively.[39] These achievements were a prelude to the ‘Chain Races’ held at Catford Track on Monday 8 June 1896. Since November Jimmy had been riding on a Simpson lever chain following William Stead Simpson’s challenge offering ten-to-one odds that riders using his chain would beat those riding with standard chains. The meeting at Catford offered a programme of three races at 5 miles and 50 miles, and 1 hour. Jimmy was lined up to ride for Simpson in the opening 5 mile race against C. F. Barden of Putney Athletic Club. The facts of what was to unfold next have never been fully established.

The 5 mile race was the first event on the card. The start was delayed as Jimmy, accompanied by Choppy, did not arrive at the track until shortly after the scheduled start time. During training rides the night before a disagreement between Jimmy and the organisers led him to threaten not to ride the following day and he was told that his services could be dispensed with. After what we can assume to be fraught backroom negotiations an agreement that he would ride both the 5 and 50 mile events, as previously arranged, was reached.[40] As events turned out Jimmy was a dismal failure. Barden outdistanced him after 2 miles and Jimmy abandoned the race after 3 miles, reportedly dizzy and ill.[41]

Constant Huret

Constant Huret

With the standard chain team one up in the match, next to ride were Tom Linton (Simpson) and J. W. Stocks of Catford Cycling Club. Linton took the lead after 7 miles and finished the hour with a new British professional record of 29 miles, 643 yards.[42] The 50 mile race was won by the Simpson rider, Constant Huret, nicknamed ‘Le Boulanger’, who was thrown into the race after Jimmy’s collapse meant he would not be available to ride. Having been lent Tom Linton’s bike Huret proceeded to set a new world record of 1 hour, 45 min, and 50 seconds.[43] The Simpson riders had won the match 2-1, the popular consensus being that this proved that as professionals they were the better riders, rather than that the Simpson chain was in any way superior.[44]

Initially Jimmy claimed that he was let down by his pacemakers getting in the way[45] but darker rumours quickly flew around the Catford Track. The “doyen of cycle journalists” alleged that while the hour race was being contested he had heard Jimmy openly state that he had been drugged.[46]  Elsewhere a well known Cardiff cyclist expressed his opinion that Jimmy had lost the race after breaking down as a result of too much hard work.[47] Three weeks later Jimmy was reported as saying that he had done little work in recent months and had not been at “concert pitch” when he was beaten in the ‘Chain Race’.

With a story circulating that Choppy had been seen handing Jimmy a drink from a small bottle before the start of the race[48] and rumours of drugs being bandied about the British cycling body, the National Cyclists’ Union (NCU) took the step of suspending Jimmy from all NCU governed racing.[49] The exact reasons for the suspension are unknown but it may have been as a result of Jimmy’s refusal to attend an NCU inquiry into the ‘Chain Race’ affair.[50] By early July the NCU committee delegated with investigating the matter recommended that the licensing body reinstate Jimmy pending the full inquiry. The NCU also took the step of banning ‘Choppy’ from all races organised under their rules, the reason being a mystery to all outside the NCU committee.[51]  Shortly after Jimmy attended a NCU meeting where he was apparently able to convince them of his innocence and was formally reinstated.[52] In October the NCU issued an instruction to the effect “That no permit in future will be granted to any club, nor will any races under N.C.U. rules be permitted to take place on any track where J. S. Warburton (Choppy) is allowed to enter the enclosure or dressing-rooms.”[53]

Relations between Jimmy and ‘Choppy’ had been fraught for some time. In early May Bicycling News had reported that Jimmy had severed his connection with his manager.[54] Though this break was short-lived, with the 13 May Pink edition of the Evening Express reporting that they had settled their differences, the ‘Chain Race’ affair was the catalyst for a complete breakdown between the pair. The partnership was dissolved shortly after the race,[55] and when Jimmy accused ‘Choppy’ of poisoning him the ex-trainer issued a suit for slander, which was apparently later settled out of court.[56]

The exact reasons for the breakdown in their relationship are unclear but it is not unreasonable to read between the lines and see in Jimmy a young man who while benefiting from ‘Choppy’s sporting and management experience had begun to have ideas and ambitions of his own. On his part ‘Choppy’, a businessman before all else, was bringing through other young riders including his own son, James Warburton, and Jimmy, still only 19 years old himself, may have felt that ‘Choppy’ was no longer investing enough in him. Though the end was acrimonious the relationship had benefited them both and it is arguable that without ‘Choppy’, Jimmy may not have achieved the success he did.

Reinstatement allowed Jimmy to finally meet the American champion rider, John S. Johnson, on the track. A series of races between the pair had been agreed in November 1895 and postponed as a result of Jimmy’s suspension. They finally met at Wood Green on 11 July where they competed over distances of 1 and 10 miles in front of 2,000 spectators. Johnson, a sprinter rather than a distance rider, easily won the shorter race. Over 10 miles Jimmy proved the faster, winning by almost a lap.[57] It was his first success against American competition. It was not to be his last.

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael

Jimmy’s reinstatement and return to racing did not see the end of his tribulations in 1896. In late July he failed to turn up at a meet organised by Leeds C and AC Sports. The club reported him for a breach of agreement and made a claim against him for expenses incurred in advertising the event.[58] In August a collision with a pony trap on the North Road near Potter’s Bar while out training behind three pacemakers on a triplet saw Jimmy escape relatively unscathed. The driver of the pony trap was hurt, the trap damaged, and John Jones, the first man on the triplet was hospitalised. A summons was to later to be issued against Jimmy in respect of the crash and all riders concerned were fined damages and costs.[59]

The funeral of Arthur Linton, who had died a tragic death from typhoid fever on 23 July, 1896, aged just 27, was significantly not attended by Jimmy, who sent a wreath with the words:

“Let us forget all that is past,
And hope some day that we,
will join each other’s hands again,
and friends once more will be”[60]

Jimmy’s absence is curious. The Linton’s and the Michael’s were neighbours in the same street in Aberaman and Arthur had encouraged and trained Jimmy when he took up cycling as a boy. The funeral was attended by ‘Choppy’ and Constant Huret, who wheeled Arthur’s bike, covered in crepe, behind the hearse.[61] The words on the wreath speak volumes about the intensity of the rivalry that existed between Jimmy and Arthur. Though described in the press as modest and unassuming and not conceited by his achievements,[62] Jimmy appears to have been a proud individual, convinced of his ability, and sensitive to criticism. His rivalry on the track with Arthur’s younger brother, Tom, was marked with acrimony on both sides, and this together with the presence of ‘Choppy’ may have been the reason why he did not attend Arthur’s funeral. The bad blood was mutual, with ‘Choppy’ later on record that he would die happy if his new protégé, the young rider Champion, would meet and defeat Jimmy.[63]

At the same time, Jimmy was also arranging to go to America. A few days before the meeting with Johnson at Wood Green on 11 July, 1896, the South Wales Daily Post reported that Jimmy had “fixed up a foreign tour” that would add hundreds of pounds to his already bulging coffers.[64] On 3 September Jimmy left Liverpool for the States on the Teutonic, accompanied by his new trainer, an old friend and mentor from Aberaman, John Jones.[65]

His first engagement was an exhibition match in Buffalo, New York, where he rode one mile in 1 minute, 52 seconds. On September 18 he lined up at Manhattan Beach against Frank Starbuck and A. E. Weinig for an hour race, in which Jimmy was paced by the Jallu Brothers of Paris. For the first time in America each rider had their own set of pacemakers.[66] Weinig abandoned in the twenty-first mile and despite a late surge by Starbuck in the final three miles Jimmy crossed the line in first place with a new American record of 27 miles 1690 yards. A storm interrupted the meeting, forcing the postponement of several events, and a few days later at Waverley Park, New Jersey, Jimmy made an attempt on the 5 mile record. His time of 10 minutes, 1 second, fell far short of Tom Linton’s record of 9 minutes 17 seconds set in July at Catford, but was an American record for a dirt track.[67]

It was not to be long before the American 5 mile record fell to Jimmy. At Trenton, New Jersey, on 28 September he raced at the League of American Wheelmen’s national circuit meet in front of 10,000 spectators, who witnessed Jimmy set a new record time of 9 minutes, 51 seconds.[68] More records were to quickly follow. By October 14 Jimmy had taken the 5 mile world record from Tim Linton, posting a time of 9 minutes, 17 seconds, and 1 fifth of a second; 2 fifths of a second faster than Linton.[69] The record was back with Linton a few days later when he posted 9 minutes 15 seconds. In turn Jimmy brought the world record down to 9 minutes, 12 seconds, at New Orleans on November 7.[70] American records for 1 mile and world records for 2, 3, and 4 miles also tumbled under Jimmy’s relentless onslaught,[71] while at the Coliseum races in Nashville on October 26 the American 10 mile record fell in a time of 21 minutes, 35 seconds, with Jimmy paced by triplets and singles.[72]

Jimmy Michael as depicted in the pages of the Kansas City Daily Journal, 1897

Jimmy Michael as depicted in the pages of the Kansas City Daily Journal, 1897

In November ‘The Roadster’, the cycling columnist for the Evening Express reported that Jimmy had decided to return to Wales, not being satisfied with his present employers, caustically remarking that “Probably, too, they are not delighted with him, as, beyond securing the American hour record, his achievements over yonder have not been by any means startling.”[73] Jimmy’s results speak otherwise. Between September and December 1896 he set world records three times over 2 miles, four times over 4 miles, twice in each of 6, 7, and 8 miles, and three times over ten miles.[74] On November 22 at Memphis, Tennessee, Jimmy, paced by 20 riders, broke the American hour record by nearly 2 miles, setting a distance of 29 miles, 1,293 yards, beating all American records from 11 miles upwards in the process.[75] Over 10 miles with a flying start he set a time of 18 minutes, 33 seconds, taking him under Tom Linton’s standing start record of 18 minutes, 41 seconds. Though the results are not directly comparable due to the advantage of the flying start, the result underlined Jimmy’s ability and form.

Linton meanwhile had recently extended the hour record to 31 miles, 582 yards, after losing it to J. W. Stocks in September.[76] In November Linton, together with a group that included his brother Sam, the Scottish champion Willie Lumsden, Irishman Charlie Hale, twice winner of Paris Bordeaux, and Émile Dubois, arrived in America to take part in the Madison Square Garden six-day race. Linton hoped to renew his rivalry with Jimmy and stated that he would go for every record that Jimmy had made while in the States.[77]

Shortly after their arrival the British team’s manger, Ed Plummer, intimated that Jimmy had left Britain to avoid meeting Linton on the track.[78] Jimmy reacted angrily, stating that in four years he had never been beaten by Tom on the track, and had in fact defeated Linton decisively on many occasions.[79] Press reports quickly circulated of plans for the two to meet to decide the matter of which was the better rider. A series of three races was proposed with each rider to select one distance and the third, if the series stood at one-all, to be over 50 miles. The races were to be held in California and the prize money to be $5,000.[80]

The races as proposed did not come off due to the suspension of Jimmy’s American manager, Tom Eck, from track privileges at that time.[81] By late December it was being reported that Eck and Plummer had agreed that Jimmy would meet Linton at a meeting to be held in Jacksonville, Florida, in January 1897, with the riders to compete over 1 mile, 5 miles, and 1 hour.[82] In the meantime, as Linton appeared at the six-day Race at Madison Square Garden, Jimmy took a break as the guest of Johnson in the latter’s home in Minneapolis.[83]

Tom Linton

Tom Linton

Linton was clearly on form, setting an indoor world record time of 12 minutes, 4 seconds, for 5 miles in an exhibition against time.[84] A rare loss followed against Starbuck in a 10 mile race. After Starbuck had fallen during the fourth lap Linton stopped, insisting the race should be re-run as he did not wish to win by default. In the ensuing race Starbuck beat Linton convincingly in a sprint in the final lap, recording a time of 24 minutes, 40 seconds, for the win. The British team was next in Washington, D.C., for a six-day event at the purpose built Ice Palace track in Convention Hall where Plummer repeated his desire to see Linton and Jimmy race during an interview with the Evening Star.[85] Linton, along with the American Eddie Bald and ‘Choppy’ Warburton’s son, James, and a “host of other riders” were on the bill for the express purpose of riding to break world records.[86] Over the course of the six-day meet Linton rode an event each day, setting records for the paced mile, 3 miles, 5 miles, and 10 miles, and the unpaced hour and 1 mile.[87] Before leaving Washington Plummer reiterated his desire to see Linton and Jimmy race, stating “That’s the principal reason we came to the United States.”[88]

Two days later the Washington D.C. paper The Morning Times headline “There will be no race: Tom Eck and his numerous bicycle riders in trouble” finally sank Linton’s hopes.[89] Eck’s failure to pay a $200 fine imposed on him by the League of American Wheelmen in connection with a breach of contract at a race in Portland, Maine, meant that he and all the riders he managed were suspended from racing, including Jimmy. By coincidence Jimmy was also in trouble with the British National Cycling Union, who had recalled him to England to answer to the charges raised against him in respect of his failure to honour his contract to appear at the Leeds meeting in July, 1896.[90] Jimmy left for England on 13 January after issuing a statement through the American Wheelman to the effect that he had known nothing of the race until he had received a telegram from Florida insisting on his appearance, and that he would be returning to the States within four weeks upon which he would be willing to meet Linton.[91] With unfortunate timing Plummer had written a letter dated 13 January, 1897, demanding an explanation for Jimmy’s sudden planned departure and requesting that he wait in the States until Friday 15 January when the match could be run in Buffalo.[92]

Linton and Plummer continued to hope that a match could be arranged, in England if not in the States, but were ultimately to be disappointed. The question remains whether Jimmy wished to avoid meeting Linton on the track. He certainly knew Linton’s abilities better than anyone, having known and ridden against him from an early age, and would no doubt have had a shrewd idea of whether he was capable of beating Linton or not. Though his stated reasons for not being to race were legitimate as he was technically under suspension as a rider managed by Tom Eck, the suspicion remains that he did in fact wish to avoid racing against Linton. Allegedly Jimmy would not race unless Eck managed him.[93] By 6 March at the latest Jimmy was being managed by the noted trainer and manager, D. G. Shafer, which implies that his loyalty to Eck did not go that far.[94] While he was in England the newspapers reported in January that Jimmy and Frank Starbuck had arranged a series of races to be held on his return to the States.[95] In March, having apparently settled his differences with ‘Choppy’, reports circulated of a match to be arranged between Jimmy and ‘Choppy’’s latest protégé, Champion.[96]

If Jimmy was ready to race against other successful riders in America and Europe, why was he seemingly not prepared to do so against Linton? The desire to race was there on behalf of Linton and Plummer, while Jimmy consistently stated that he also wanted the match. We will never know if Jimmy did avoid the clash, but what is certain is that Jimmy, for all his efforts, had not managed to ride 30 miles in the hour, for which Linton held both the paced and unpaced records. Linton was widely regarded as the best long-distance rider in the world, and with a match format that allowed each rider to choose a distance, with a 50 mile race as a decider if needed, Jimmy may well have felt he had everything to lose and little to gain.

Jimmy Michael and ‘Choppy’ Warburton

Jimmy Michael and ‘Choppy’ Warburton

By early February 1897 Jimmy had settled his affairs with the National Cycling Union (NCU) and with ‘Choppy’[97], returning to the States on the 13th via Paris where he visited the Velodrome d’Hiver and arranged for new Gladiator quads to be shipped to America.[98] The match agreed with Starbuck at Jacksonville, Florida, in March was postponed with Jimmy stating that he was unable to get into shape in the time available to him. Instead Jimmy left for California to train under his new manager, Dave Schaefer,[99] while press reports circulated that a match between Albert Champion, the latest young prodigy under the wing of ‘Choppy’ Warburton, had been arranged.[100] Champion was later to establish the Champion Spark Plug Company in Boston, Massachusetts, after a successful career on the track.

In February Jimmy signed with the Union team from Boston, thereby ensuring he was eligible to ride in the American championships and compete in the national circuit season. San Francisco was his first point of call where he was due to appear at a three week event at the Mechanics’ Pavilion from 20 March.[101] To Jimmy’s frustration the NCU intervened once again, suspending him for a second time in relation to the case brought against him by the Leeds Cycling and Athletic Club.[102] In response the League of American Wheelmen (LAW), which recognised disciplinary action meted out by the NCU, handed down its own suspension to Jimmy.[103]

Having declared his intention to go for all records from 1 to 100 miles Jimmy was no doubt frustrated at being unable to race and the resultant loss of earnings.[104] In the meantime a deal with the makers of Paine’s Celery Compound saw adverts appear in papers across America in which Jimmy endorsed the miracle product “for every bicyclist”.[105]

By April the Welsh press were reporting that the fine had been paid and that he expected to be reinstated, further commenting that Jimmy felt that the NCU action was “a case of spite”.[106] Confirmation of the lifting of his suspension by the LAW came in late April[107] leaving Jimmy apparently free to race once again. In yet another twist in the Leeds case the NCU confirmed that the fine had finally been paid on May 22 1897, the implication being that the LAW had lifted its ban in error and Jimmy had been racing illegally in the interim.[108] According to the South Wales Daily Post in June, the American Press had incorrectly reported that the NCU had lifted their suspension, leading the LAW to do the same and then reinstate their ban once the error was realised.[109]

April also saw reports that Jimmy had become an American citizen,[110] an action that caused some resentment in the Welsh press. ‘Welsh Athlete’, the sporting columnist for the Evening Express, felt that he “never thought Michael would forsake his country in this way” and called on Tom Linton to bring the championship back to Wales.[111] In the Cambrian ‘Argus’ felt that America’s gain was greater than the loss to Britain, stating that many English riders could beat Jimmy while in “Yankeeland” he was one of the best.[112]

Jimmy and other riders as depicted in the The Anaconda Standard, April 25 1897

Jimmy and other riders as depicted in the The Anaconda Standard, April 25 1897

As inconvenient as the ban must have been it had no apparent effect on Jimmy’s performance in 1897. In May at Charles River Park, Boston, he “knocked the stuffing”[113] out of the American rider, Eddie McDuffie, in a 15 mile race which Jimmy won in 29 minutes, 12 seconds. In August at Manhattan Beach he defeated Frank Starbuck in a 33 mile paced race, setting American records from 9 to 33 miles and posting a time of 1 hour, six minutes and 14 seconds for the full distance,[114] and finally cracking the much longed for 30 miles within the hour.[115]

Back in England J. W. Stocks, whose performances rivalled those of Jimmy and Linton, set a new world record for the hour of 32 miles, 448 yards in September, also recording 32 miles, 1,086 yards while paced by a motor cycle.[116] The latter distance was dismissed by the LAW who felt that riders should achieve records solely through their own efforts without the aid of pacing machines,[117] somewhat conveniently ignoring the fact that all Jimmy’s performances had come with the assistance of teams of pacemakers. On October 11 at the Willow Grove track in Philadelphia Jimmy finally gained the coveted hour record, covering 32 miles, 652 yards in 60 minutes of hard riding.[118]

Further successes followed, most notable of which were his defeat of Frank Starbuck at Madison Square Garden’s in which Jimmy set an indoor record of 50 minutes and 29 seconds for 25 miles, lapping the American rider to the screams of the crowd,[119] and the ride at the Coliseum, Chicago, where he set new outdoor records for 2 to 12 miles, and 16 to 25 miles.[120] These and other successes saw Jimmy bring home a reported £3,600 in prize winnings for the year,[121] which ended with reports that Dave Schaefer had closed a deal with Phil Dwyer’s stables that would see Jimmy make his debut as a jockey in the Spring of 1898.[122]

While 1898 was to see Jimmy continue to train as a jockey his ambition to race in silks was not to be fully realised for another year. There was still money to be made and a reputation to uphold racing bikes on the track. On New Year’s Day he met the youngster, Edouard Taylor, at Madison Square Garden in a 25 mile race, beating the Frenchman by 8 laps in a time of 51 minutes and 54 seconds.[123] World records continued to tumble with Jimmy smashing J. W. Stocks’ 1897 10 mile record by 27 seconds on June 27 at Boston with a time of 17 minutes and 20 seconds.[124]

Meanwhile Tom Linton had returned to the States, declaring he would not return home until a race had been arranged between Jimmy and himself.[125] They finally met in New York in July at the Manhattan Beach track for a 20 mile race in front of 15,000 people. In the fourth mile Jimmy punctured and instead of getting a rapid wheel change opted to ride slowly off the track to a storm of hisses from the crowd. By the time he had returned Linton had gained a mile. With the result inevitable the only remaining interest for the crowd was whether Linton would break the record. A feat he achieved by setting a new world record for 20 miles of 35 minutes and 18 seconds.[126] Jimmy immediately challenged Linton to a match over 25 miles and a week later in front of another packed house at Manhattan Beach Jimmy gained his revenge, beating Linton over a 25 mile race which Jimmy won by about 170 yards after Linton lost his pacemakers in the final mile.[127]

Behind his success on the track was a regular training regime. A typical day would begin with a stroll before breakfast followed by a run which take him to the track. There he would ride a set distance at an average pace of 2 minutes per mile and after a rub-down would return to the hotel for a light lunch. The routine would be repeated in the afternoon with another run and further training on the track before supper. After his meal had been digested Jimmy would box with his trainer, have a session with dumb-bells, and use a skipping-rope. Another rub-down would follow before he retired to bed for the day.[128] By today’s standards it may seem unscientific but like modern athletes sheer hard work, discipline, and motivation underpinned his efforts.

Jimmy’s private life made headlines in 1899 when the press reported that his wife had successfully sued for divorce in 1899[129]. His marriage to Fanny Lewis, the 17 year old daughter of an Aberaman butcher, had been marked by abandonment, with Jimmy leaving for Europe shortly after the wedding in 1896. During the 3 years the marriage lasted Jimmy appears to only have made an effort to see his wife on a few occasions when he returned to Wales for a break from racing. In 1897 during an interview with the American writer, Edith Sessions Tupper, Jimmy had claimed that he was not married,[130] leading his wife to visit him in the States. Jimmy refused to take Fanny back and filed a petition for divorce with the American courts which he subsequently withdrew in early 1898.[131]

On his return to Wales in November Franny once more sought to see him at his uncle’s house in Aberaman, but left after Jimmy had threatened her with violence, after which Franny had not seen him again. It emerged from the divorce proceedings that when Jimmy had married her they had thought that she would come into her deceased father’s estate, some £10,000 in value, on her 18th birthday. The news that Franny would not inherit until she was 21 was the catalyst for Jimmy to abandon her. Perhaps of greater weight in the judge’s mind when granting the divorce was the testimony of a witness who attested to committing adultery with Jimmy.[132]

Meanwhile Jimmy had finally fulfilled his ambitions to ride as a jockey, appearing professionally for the first time at Torrington, Connecticut, in July 1899 where he won 2 races.[133] Early promise did not translate into as successful a career as he enjoyed on the track, with Jimmy being only moderately successful while on horseback, while his tendency to use cycling terminology by describing stirrups as pedals and reins as handles made American owners wary.[134] Despite announcing his departure from cycling Jimmy was soon back on the track seeking to renew his interrupted career.

The Carmarthen Weekly Reporter’s pronouncement in December 1899 that “Jimmy Michael is a “star” of the past” proved to be hasty.[135] Though he was unable to achieve the same level of dominance he had enjoyed, his return to cycling in America and Europe saw Jimmy continue to win races and set records. In September 1900 at the Woodside Park in Philadelphia he lowered the world record for 25 miles once again, beating the record holder, Johnny Nelson, in a time of 39 minutes and 29 seconds.[136] In November 1901 he beat the German champion, Thaddäus  Robl, at the Parc des Princes, Paris, claiming all records from 20 to 50 kilometres, breaking the world record for 50 kilometres by 2 minutes and 33 seconds in the process.[137]

Jimmy Michael, Michael Thomas, and Arthur Linton (l-r) on a triplet

Jimmy Michael, Michael Thomas, and Arthur Linton (l-r) on a triplet

A crash in Berlin in 1902 left Jimmy seriously injured. Evidence suggests that he suffered permanent brain damage as a result. Late November 1904 found Jimmy on the French liner, La Savoie, en route from France to America. On Sunday 27 November he complained to the ship’s surgeon of a splitting headache which he believed to be due to the Berlin accident. After taking a draught prescribed by the surgeon Jimmy joined the dinner party and appeared to be well.

On Monday morning the Swiss cyclist, Jean Gougoltz, who was travelling with Jimmy, heard groans from Jimmy’s cabin and called the surgeon. Jimmy was found delirious and in great pain, the surgeon diagnosing concussion of the brain. Jimmy never regained consciousness, dying at 11 o’clock on Monday 29 November. [138] He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn in a funeral organised by P. T. Powers, the manager of the six-day race in New York which Jimmy had been travelling to attend.[139] Despite his reputed career earnings in excess of $100,000 Jimmy died nearly penniless. His interest in horse racing had not been limited to his ambition to a jockey. Jimmy was also a gambler, spending much of his money on backing horses and more on buying race horses that proved to be a poor investment.[140]

As with so many professional cyclists the suspicion of drug use hangs over Jimmy’s career. There is no conclusive evidence but his association with ‘Choppy’ Warburton raises questions, as do contemporary reports of cocaine use in cycle racing[141] and as a stimulant for horses.[142] With Jimmy involved in both sports he would at least have been aware of the use of drugs and as his endorsement of Paine’s Celery Compound demonstrates he was certainly willing to consider the use of less contentious stimulants. The adage that you can’t make a race horse out of a donkey may well be true but it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Jimmy probably used drugs during his career. He was certainly blessed with natural talent but with drug use the pressure to at least level the playing field against contemporaries that did use stimulants must have been great.

We will never know for certain whether or not Jimmy did use drugs during his racing career. A superstar of his day, thousands flocked to see him race on tracks in America, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, England, and Wales. For most of his career he was the man to beat, enjoying great rivalries with other high calibre riders like Frank Starbuck, Bobby Walthour, Lucien Lesna, Eddie McDuffie, J. W. Stocks, Charley Barden, Constant Huret, and Arthur and Tom Linton. He was a multiple record holder at distances from 1 to 100 miles and for the hour, and the first official British professional world champion. Jimmy Michael deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest track cyclists of his era and of all time.

Text © Aaron Cripps, 2014

This article was first published in 5 parts on my European history blog, Europeenses


[1] “Cycling,” Evening Express, July 2, 1894, Special ed., 3.
[2] Steven Thompson, ‘Michael, James (1875–1904)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, May 2011.
[3] “A crack Welsh cyclist,” South Wales Daily Post, July 23, 1985, Extra Special ed., 4.
[4] “The “boy” Michael of Aberdare interviewed,” Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo, December 24, 1895, 8.
[5] “Cycling championship,” Evening Express, September 10, 1984, 1st ed., 3.
[6] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, September 17, 1894, 1st ed., 4
[7] “T. Michael in Paris,” Evening Express, November 22, 1894, 4th ed., 3.
[8] “Cycling at Paris,” Aberdare Times, March 16, 1895, 4.
[9] “International cycling,” Evening Express, May 20, 1985, 4th ed., 2.
[10] “A crack Welsh cyclist,” South Wales Daily Post, July 23, 1895, Special ed., 4.
[11] “International Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, August 19, 1895, Special ed., 4.
[12] “Michael in “Gay Paree”,” Evening Express, September 5, 1895, 1st ed., 3.
[13] “Cycling in France,” South Wales Daily Post, October 24, 1895, Special ed., 2.
[14] “Cycling championship,” South Wales Daily Post, October 8, 1895,
[15] “Professional cycling,” Aberdare Times, October 12, 1895, 4; “Cycling championship,” South Wales Daily Post, October 8, 1895, Special ed., 4.
[16] “International cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, November 4, 1895, Special ed., 4.
[17] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, November 13, 1985, 4th ed., 3.
[18] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, September 18, 1895, Special ed., 2.
[19] “Another match for Michael,” Evening Express, November 7, 1895, 1st ed., 1.
[20] “Jimmy Michael his man,” Evening Express, November 1, 1985, 5th ed., 2.
[21] “For Footballers,” Evening Express, November 30, 1895, Extra Special, 2
[22] “Cycling,” Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo, December 18, 1895, 3.
[23] “Football and cycling,” Evening Express, January 22, 1896, 5th ed., 3.
[24] “French cycling notes,” Evening Express, January 29, 1986, Extra Special ed., 2; “Local siftings,” South Wales Daily Post, January 31, Extra Special ed., 4.
[25] “The world’s champion cyclist,” Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo, March 12, 1896, 3.
[26] Cycling,” Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo, February 27, 1896, 3.
[27] “Jimmy Michael to give three exhibition rides at the Agricultural Hall,” Evening Express, March 27, 1896, Pink ed., 2
[28] “Cycling records,” Evening Express, March 30, 1896, Special ed., 2
[29] “By the way” Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo, April 2, 1896, 6.
[30] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, April 10, 1896 Extra Special ed., 2; “Cycling,” Evening Express Post, April 13, 1896 Extra Special ed., 2.
[31] “Michael,” Evening Express, April 17, 1896, 1st ed. 2.
[32] “Cycling, ” South Wales Daily Post, April 23, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2.
[33] “”Jimmy” Michael Divorced,” Weekly Mail, June 24, 1899, 4.
[34] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, May 19, 1896, Extra Special ed., 4.
[35] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, May 26, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2.
[36] Robert C. Allen, “Real Incomes in the English Speaking World, 1879-1913,” Ch. 6 in Labour Market Evolution, edited by G. Grantham and M. McKinnon (London: Routledge,1994),
[37] “Feathers and fluff,” Evening Express, April 29, 1896, 3rd ed., 2
[38] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, May 26, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2.
[39] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, May 28, 1896, Extra Special ed., 3; “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, May 30, 1896, 5th ed., 2; “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post,  June 2, 1896, 2.
[40] “Welsh cycle champion Michael makes a grave charge,” Evening Express, June 9, 1896, 5th ed., 3.
[41] “Welsh cycle champion Michael makes a grave charge,” Evening Express, June 9, 1896, 5th ed., 3.
[42] “Cycle chain matches,” Evening Express, June 8, 1896, 1st ed., 3.
[43] “Welsh cycle champion Michael makes a grave charge,” Evening Express, June 9, 1896, 5th ed., 3.
[44] “Athletic notes,” South Wales Daily Post, June 9, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2
[45] “Welsh cycle champion Michael makes a grave charge,” Evening Express, June 9, 1896, 5th ed., 3.
[46] “Welsh cycle champion Michael makes a grave charge,” Evening Express, June 9, 1896, 5th ed., 3.
[47] Evening Express, June 10, 1896, 3rd ed., 2.
[48] “Cycling notes – no. 1,” PontyPridd Chronicle and Workman’s News, July 31, 1986, 6.
[49] “Michael suspended,” Evening Express, June 22, 1896, 3rd ed., 3.
[50] “Athletic notes. Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, June 27, 1896, Extra Special ed., 3.
[51] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, July 3, 1896, Extra Special ed., 4; “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, July 10, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2.
[52] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, July 13, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2.
[53] “National Cyclists Union,” Evening Express, October 29, 1896, 3rd ed., 2.
[54] “Michael, the little wonder, breaks off his connection with Choppy Warburton,” Evening Express, May 6, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2.
[55] “Michael and Johnson,” Evening Express, July 8, 1986, 3rd ed., 3.
[56] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, September 2, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2. “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, November 26, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2; “”CHOPPY” WARBURTON DEAD.; Trainer of “Jimmy” Michael, the Welch Bicycle Rider, Passes Away,” New York Times, December 19, 1987,
[57] “Cycling,” Evening Express, July 13, 1986, 1st ed., 2.
[58] “Little Michael,” Evening Express, July 27, 1896, 5th ed., 3.
[59] “Michael’s Pacers,” Evening Express November 10, 1896, 3rd ed., 3.
[60] “Death of Arthur Linton,” Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo, August 6, 1986, 3.
[61] “Death of Arthur Linton,” Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo, July 30, 1986, 3.
[62] South Wales Daily Post 18 March 1895, Special ed., 2; “Aberdare notes,” Merthyr Times and Dowlais Times and Aberdare Echo, February 20, 1896, 5.
[63] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, February 12, 1897, Extra Special ed., 2.
[64] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, July 7, 1896, 2nd ed., 2.
[65] “Interesting items of news about Football, cricket, and cycling in Wales,” Evening Express, September 5, 1896, Extra Special ed., 2.
[66] “Quill club meet today,” The Evening Times (Washington, D.C.), September 18, 1896, 3.
[67] Evening Express, September 29, 1896, Pink ed., 2. ; “On the wheel,” Los Angeles Herald (California), September 25, 1896, 2.
[68] “Michael breaks the five mile record,” The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer (Wheeling, W. Va), September 29, 1896,
[69] “Cycling,” Evening Express, October 10, 1896, Extra Football ed., 2.
[70] “Local sport.” Evening Express, November 26, 3rd ed., 3.
[71] “Cycling,” Evening Express, October 10, 1896, Extra Football ed., 2; “Michael in America,” Evening Express, October 24, 1896, 3rd ed., 4.
[72] “Coliseum races,” The Los Angeles Herald (California), October 27, 1896, 1
[73] “Cycling notes,” Evening Express, November 9, 1896, Pink ed., 2.
[74] “Bicycling in America,” Evening Express, December 19, 1896, 3rd ed., 3.
[75] “News of the wheelmen,” The Sun (New York, NY) November 23, 1896, 9; “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, December 10, 1896, 2.
[76] “The brothers Linton,” Evening Express, December 5, 1896, 5th ed., 2.
[77] “Tom Linton going to America,” Evening Express, November 19, 1896, 1st ed., 2; “English riders arrive,” The Morning Times (Washington, D.C.), November 29, 1896, 7.
[78] “English riders arrive,” The Morning Times (Washington, D.C.), November 29, 1896, 7.
[79] “Gossip for cyclists,” The Saint Paul Globe (St. Paul, Minnesota), December 21, 1896, 5.
[80] “Notes of the wheel,” The Evening Times (Washington, D.C.), December 2, 1896, 3.
[81] “Gossip of the wheel,” The Evening Times (Washington, D.C.), December 4, 1896, 3
[82] “Sports in general,” The Morning Times (Washington, D.C.), December 21, 1896, 3; “Cycling Notes,” Evening Express, January 11, 1897, Pink ed., 4.
[83] “Michael is a midget,” The Saint Paul Globe (St. Paul, Minnesota), December 8, 1896, 3.
[84] “Hale still in the lead,” The Sun (New York, NY), December 09, 1896, 4.
[85] “The English manager,” Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), December 26, 1896, 9.
[86] “Extra! The great international six-day bicycle race …,” The Morning Times (Washington, D.C.), December 28, 1896, 6.
[87] “The night scene, The Morning Times. (Washington, D.C.), 29 Dec. 1896, 3; “Records lowered,” The Morning Times. (Washington, D.C.), 30 Dec. 1896, 3; “Records smashed,” The Morning Times. (Washington, D.C.), 31 Dec. 1896, 3; “New records made,” The Morning Times. (Washington, D.C.), 01 Jan. 1897, 3; “New records made,” The Morning Times. (Washington, D.C.), 02 Jan. 1897, 2; “Linton breaks his record,” The Morning Times. (Washington, D.C.), 03 Jan. 1897, 7.
[88] “Remain in town,” The Morning Times. (Washington, D.C.), 04 Jan. 1897, 3.
[89] “There will be no race: Tom Eck and his numerous bicycle riders in trouble,” The Morning Times. (Washington, D.C.), 06 Jan. 1897, 3.
[90] “Michael talks of Linton,” The Morning Times (Washington, D.C.), January 10, 1987, 7.
[91] “Michael will meet Linton,” The Morning Times (Washington, D.C.), January 14, 1987, 3.
[92] Evening Express, January 26, 1897, Pink ed., 1.
[93] “Indefinitely postponed,” The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer. (Wheeling, W. Va.), January 9, 1897, 3.
[94] “The Wheelmen,” The San Francisco Call. (San Francisco [Calif.]), March 6, 1897, 8.
[95] “Michael-Starbuck matched,” Kansas City Daily Journal. (Kansas City, Mo.), January 31, 1897, 5.
[96] “Linton and Champion,” Evening Express, March 3, 1897, Extra Special ed., 2.
[97] “News of the wheelmen, The Sun (New York, NY), February 16, 1897, 4.
[98] “International cycling,” Evening Express, January 30, 1897, Special edition, 2.; “Welsh cycling star,” Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, Utah), January 14, 1897, 2.
[99] “News of the wheelmen,” The Sun (New York, NY), February 16, 1897, 4.
[100] “Linton and Champion,” Evening Express, March 3, 1897, Extra Special ed., 2.
[101] “The wheelmen,” San Francisco Call, March 6, 1897, 8.
[102] “Cycling notes,” Cambrian, March 12, 1897, 3.
[103] “Jimmy Michael suspended,” Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), March 30, 1897, 9.
[104] “News of the Wheelmen,” The Sun (New York, NY), March 15, 1897, 8.
[105] See for example the San Francisco Call, April 1, 1897, 8, col. 2.
[106] Evening Express, April 24, 1897, Special ed., 3.
[107] “For the bicyclist,” Scranton Tribune (Scranton, PA), April 24, 1897, 3.
[108] “Cycling,” Cambrian, June 4, 1897, 7.
[109] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, June 30, 1897, Extra Special ed., 4.
[110] “Personal paragraphs,” Evening Star (New York, NY), April 3, 1897, 23; “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, April 8, 1897, Extra Special ed., 2
[111] “Football poaching,” Evening Express, July 1, 1897, Pink edition, 2.
[112] “Cycling notes,” Cambrian, July 2, 1897, 3.
[113] “Cycling and athletics,” Evening Express, July 3, 1897, 5th ed., 2.
[114] “Cycling: Jimmy Michael creates new records for America,” South Wales Daily Post, August 23, 1897, Extra Special ed., 3.
[115] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, September 4, 1897, Extra Special ed., 2.
[116] “Cycling records smashed by Michael,” South Wales Daily Post, September 22, 1897, Extra Special ed., 4.; “Marvellous Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, September 28, 1897, Extra Special ed., 3.
[117] “Michael will quit racing,” Roanoke Times (Roanake, Va), October 12, 1897, 1.
[118] Ibid.
[119] “Cycling,” Carmarthen Weekly Reporter, December 3, 1897, 3.
[120] “Cycling,” Carmarthen Weekly Reporter, December 3, 1897, 3.
[121] “Welsh Athlete’s general gossip,” Evening Express, December 11, 1897, Extra Football ed., 4.
[122] “More about Michael,” South Wales Daily Post, October 14, 1897, Extra Special ed., 3.
[123] “Michael in front again,” The Sun (New York, NY), January 2, 1898, 8.
[124] “Michael in form,” Evening Express, July 8, 1898, First Edition, 2.
[125] “Linton and Michael,” Evening Express, March 1, 1898, First Edition, 2.
[126][126] “Jimmy Michael hissed,” The Saint Paul Globe (St. Paul, Minn.), July 17, 1898, 1.
[127] “Michael beat Linton,” The Saint Paul Globe (St. Paul, Minn.), July 24, 1898, 9.
[128] “Jimmy Michael,” Evening Express, May 7, 1898, Special Edition, 4.
[129] “”Jimmy” Michael divorced: Young wife’s pathetic story,” Weekly Mail, June 24, 1899, 4.
[130] “More about Michael,” South Wales Daily Post, October 14, 1897, Extra special ed., 3.
[131] “Jimmy Michael and his divorce bill,” Evening Express, February 10, 1898, First Edition, 4.
[132] “”Jimmy” Michael divorced: Young wife’s pathetic story,” Weekly Mail, June 24, 1899, 4.
[133] “Jimmy Michael as jockey,” South Wales Daily Post, July 5, 1899, Extra Special edition, 3.
[134] Thompson, Steven, “Michael, James (1875-1904),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2011),
[135] “Cycling,” Carmarthen Weekly Reporter, December 15, 1899. 1.
[136] “Cycling,” South Wales Daily Post, September 14, 1900, Extra Special edition, 4.
[137] “Cycle records broken,” Weekly Mail, November 9, 1901, 2.
[138] “Death of Jimmy Michael,” Cambrian, December 2, 1904, 2.
[139] “Tribute to Jimmy Michael,” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 12, 1904, 8.
[140] “Tribute to Jimmy Michael,” The Salt Lake Tribune, December 12, 1904, 8.
[141] “Six-day bicycle races,” Evening Star, December 13, 1897, 6.
[142] “The use of cocaine,” Rock Island Argus, May 7, 1896, 3.


One comment on “James ‘Jimmy’ Michael: Welsh Cycling Champion, 1877-1904

  1. Pingback: Episode 32 – Aberaman, Rhondda Cynon Taf | Britain Alphabetically

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