What a fun and interesting title for a book, especially since my family and I were just in Chattanooga and will be back there frequently in the coming years as my daughter is going to school there. Please welcome Mike Mizrahi to the blog this week. Here’s a little bit about the release, The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race.
Anna Gaines, an introverted nineteen-year-old, discovers she’s a natural on the “wheel” after a visit with her aunt in Brooklyn. Upon returning home to Chattanooga, she insists on the same rights that have been given to men to cycle in public. She becomes the first woman to ride the streets of Chattanooga, clad in the risqué costume that many New York women are wearing in 1895-bloomers.
A firestorm ignites, pitting a few progressive thinkers against a city full of moralists intent on clinging to their post-Antebellum way of life. Anna, beset by insecurities born from a horseback riding accident as a pre-adolescent that leaves her with a pronounced limp, dangles in the middle of an explosive controversy she never envisioned. And she is pitted against Peter Sawyer, the Cycle Club President who silently harbors a crush for her, in a five-mile bicycle race that will decide if women have the same capabilities as men to ride.
Mike, what inspired you to write the book?
Anna Gaines, the heroine of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race, discovers a new role model while visiting her Aunt Harriet in Brooklyn. She reads about Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovski, a 24-year-old mother of three who is riding around the world on a 42-pound Columbia women’s bike. Everywhere Anna looks in New York, women are cycling… a sport simply verboten for women in 1895 Southern society. She takes up the sport, and soon is riding the streets of Chattanooga, turning the rules of proper behavior for a lady upside down.
Long forgotten, Annie’s real-life story, which I happened upon by accident while surfing the net, inspired me to write Anna’s. Both characters are courageous, willing to stretch for different reasons to prove that women are as capable as men, and should have the same rights as men. Both get caught up in the craze of women who were using the bicycle to express new freedoms, like wearing bloomers while riding. But Annie, having never ridden before, takes to “the wheel” on a wager between two wealthy Bostonians about whether the fairer sex could match a similar feat performed by a man in 1887. Ride a bicycle around the world in fifteen months!
Annie Londonderry succeeds, and along the way becomes a self-promoter, a skill that serves her well financially until her death in 1947. Anna Gaines, however, is just the opposite when it comes to her self-image. She lacks confidence, especially with men, after a devastating injury at age thirteen leaves her with a pronounced limp. She becomes an introvert. As a young woman seeking to come of age in a changing world, the bicycle becomes a way to break free, physically and emotionally, from the chains that bind her. But it appears the entire community opposes her decision to ride. Anna must decide whether to stand up for what’s right, when it comes to cycling, and then work toward her dream of becoming a teacher.
Along the way, she struggles with shifting priorities. Fame does not motivate her, like it does Annie Londonderry, although she receives her share. She discovers who she really is, and does not worship any thing, like a bicycle… or adulation. She knows to whom she belongs.
Mike Mizrahi has a master’s degree in public relations, advertising and applied communication from Boston University. After a career in corporate public affairs, he retired to pursue a deep passion: writing.
Mizrahi and his wife, Karen, led a mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo four years ago and were so moved by the experience, Mizrahi wrote his first novel, which he hopes will one day be published. The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race is his debut published work.
Mizrahi loves reading and writing stories about “sozo,” which means to be rescued in Greek. He and Karen are very active in their church and community and love to hike, travel and go the movies together. The Mizrahis live in Woodland Hills, California, where they raised their children who are now adults.
Mike is also giving away a copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.
Thanks for visiting, Mike! It’s been great to have you.