Hill Climbing Takes the US By Storm

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At the end of WWI, a new motorsport was sweeping across the US.  Based on the simple concept of riding a motorcycle to the top of a steep hill, hill climbing was so popular that clips from recent races were shown at movies theaters as part of the preview reel throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s.  The top three American motorcycle manufacturers (Harley-Davidson, Excelsior and Indian) all promoted the sport and even built models specifically for this type of racing.  Soon machines with extended frames and chained tires became common as riders looked to get an edge on their competition.

These particular photos come from a hillclimb in 1924 at Peralta Hills located just north of present day Los Angeles.  If you look closely you can see the chains wrapped around the rear tires to provide extra traction.  It’s interesting to note the total lack of safety gear worn by the riders.  Apparently a hat and pair of boots was all you needed!

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