• John Zeller
  • Mon March 01 2021
  • Posted Mar 1, 2021
There were other notable Iowa bike racers worthy of remembrance, but no one more honorable, self-reliant and successful in life as Leo Edward Welker.

On Aug. 29, 1896, a day before his 15th birthday, Leo E. Welker surprised the crowd at a Colfax 14-mile bicycle race by overcoming a five-minute handicap to win easily. The African American youth and his mother, Alice Battles, had recently moved from the North Dakota frontier boomtown of Devils Lake to Colfax in the same year that 100 Black coal miners arrived there from Oskaloosa.

The first report of a Black bike racer in Iowa had appeared two years earlier in the Sept. 14, 1894, issue of the Iowa Bystander, the state's African American newspaper: "Fred Wright of Marshalltown has gone to Eldora to enter bicycle races this week." In the next couple of years bike prices had dropped to the point that working-class people like Welkercould afford one.


BIKEIOWA NOTE: Definitely READ MORE... It is very interesting!
#didyouknow that bicycle racing was part of Iowa high school track team events the late 1890s?
That Ottumwa had a 1/10 mile cycledrome and bleachers for 3,500 spectators?






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