You may be wondering, what is “bicycle face”?... why hasn’t my doctor warned me?
The symptoms are as follows: Increased mobility, greater focus, confidence, independence, and improvement in general health!
Not to worry ladies, Bicycle Face is a complete farce! In the late 1800s bicycles had come to be viewed as symbols of feminism. They gave women the power to travel independently, helped trigger a reform of the Victorian dress code, and frankly, gave women freedom that made men uncomfortable. To combat this surge of independence, doctors (most of which were male at this time) invented “Bicycle Face” which was described as, “usually flushed, but sometimes pale, often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginning of dark shadows under the eyes, and always with an expression of weariness,” and “hard, clenched jaw and bulging eyes.”
Doctors cautioned this condition could become permanent with repeated use of the bicycle and was very prevalent among female riders. “Over-exertion, the upright position on the wheel, and the unconscious effort to maintain one’s balance tend to produce a wearied and exhausted ‘bicycle face.’” The only way to avoid developing Bicycle Face was to avoid the bicycle altogether!
Good news female cyclists: the verdict is out and although you may show physical signs of bicycle face while you ride, it is not permanent. So, go enjoy a ride, all of the other side effects are worth it!
See The 19th-century health scare that told women to worry about “bicycle face,” by Joseph Stromberg at Vox.com