In a more reflective moment, I began to think about the birth of 'modern' sport and triathlon in particular. Conventional wisdom suggests that during the early part of the 20th century, your average Joe (or Jo) had little time, money or energy to indulge in non-essential activities. 'Classic' historians - the club has a few of these and most of them are called 'Dave' - will tell you that it was a hard, hand to mouth existence with all time and effort devoted to rearing large families, scraping a living and attempting to secure their next square meal (unless you were lucky enough to live in a walloping big Victorian mansion and employ a vast army of domestic servants). I have a different theory however and I have found the conclusive proof that I am definitely right and legions of dusty academics* are woefully wrong. Early 20th century folk simply didn't engage in triathlon purely because of the lack of highway code. That's right, no highway code.
Just think about it for a moment. Would you go for a run if you were likely to be mown down by a tram? Would you whack on your woolly tights, hop on your boneshaker and rock up at the cafe ready for a steady 25if you were to be side-swiped by an Omnibus? Exactly. Me neither. The highway code was first published in 1931 and only 46 years later triathlon was born. Co-incidence? I think not.
On it's own, this remarkable piece of evidence could be dismissed. However, I have also located actual footage, PROOF positive of the affect the lack of road rules had on wannabe triathletes. The video below contains footage of a street ride through San Francisco sometime in the early 1900s. Note several abortive attempts at running. Also note several examples of lunatic carriage handling. Would you train in those conditions? I think that question answers itself. If you still have any doubts at all, ask yourself - 'does San Francisco now have traffic lights?' then ask yourself, does San Francisco have a vibrant triathlon scene?'. By now, any lingering doubts should have packed their bags, donned their ear-muffs and headed off into the Autumnal twilight.
As ever we remain loyal to our promise** of the finest investigative journalism in sport and any website users who feel that this is a totally pointless post that has been stuck up on the website purely to showcase a fantastic piece of music ('La Femme D'Argent by Air, Moon Safari CD, available from Amazon for a ludicrously cheap £3.99) , some amazing footage from pre-earthquake San-Fransisco and pop up a few interesting links (including the loveliest magazine in print, the CTT and a top banana race from Alcatraz) have clearly got the wrong end of the stick.
*No academics were harmed during the making of this website post. ** More of a pipe dream really.