This blog post has been incubating all day, beginning with the moment I lazily flipped open a tattered Boy Scout 'Handbook for Boys' from the 1930s and started to paw through it.. It was something I picked up a few years back, probably part of an auction lot that I won at an Antique Tool Auction. At the time, I didn't think much of it and threw it on the bookshelf. Today I discover that there is a Merit Badge for Cycling, and that the requirements for earning one were set forth 80 years ago, thusly:
How times have changed- check out the current requirements for the 2008 Cycling merit badge:
1. Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while cycling, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, and hyperventilation.
2. Clean and adjust a bicycle. Prepare it for inspection using a bicycle safety checklist. Be sure the bicycle meets local laws.
3. Show your bicycle to your counselor for inspection. Point out the adjustments or repairs you have made. Do the following:
a. Show all points that need oiling regularly.
b. Show the points that should be checked regularly to make sure the bicycle is safe to ride.
c. Show how to adjust brakes, seat level and height, and steering tube.
4. Describe how to brake safely with foot brakes and with hand brakes.
5. Show how to repair a flat. Use an old bicycle tire.
6. Take a road test with your counselor and demonstrate the following:
-Proper mount, pedal, and brake including emergency stops.
-On an urban street with light traffic, properly execute a left turn from the center of the street; also demonstrate an alternate left turn technique used during periods of heavy traffic.
-Properly execute a right turn.
-Demonstrate appropriate actions at a right-turn-only lane when you are continuing straight.
-Show proper curbside and road-edge riding. Show how to ride safely along a row of parked cars.
-Cross railroad tracks properly.
7. Describe your state's traffic laws for bicycles. Compare them with motor-vehicle laws. Know the bicycle-safety guidelines.
8. Avoiding main highways, take two rides of 10 miles each, two rides of 15 miles each, and two rides of 25 miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates, routes traveled, and interesting things seen. The bicycle must have all required safety features. It must be registered as required by your local traffic laws.
9. After fulfilling requirement 8, lay out on a road map a 50-mile trip. Stay away from main highways. Using your map, make this ride in eight hours.
I've never been a boy scout or cub scout or eagle scout, but this book informs me of an institution which I feel completely deprived from. Do people still send their kids to be scouts? Is it safe? and I mean that in the "are the adults in charge trustworthy?" kind of 'safe'? I guess I'll think about it for our 5 year old son Reis.. While you think about the duration of a 50 mile bike ride being cut from ten to eight hours, please enjoy this assortment of high resolution advertisements which I scanned from the back of the 'Boy Scout Handbook for Boys'. I love old advertisements- they're the main reason why I own a 60 year collection of National Geographic magazines which I can't bear to part with. Click to enlarge: