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Rynier Van Nest

Also Known As: "Rynner Van Heste"
Birthplace: New York, Bronx County, New York, United States
Death: Died in New York, New York County, New York, United States
Place of Burial: Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Abraham R. Van Nest and Margaret Willett
Brother of George Willett Van Nest

Occupation: American winner velocipede race
Managed by: Harrison Victor Baldwin
Last Updated:

About Rynier Van Nest

AMERICA'S (REAL) FIRST CYCLING CHAMPION. He won the race -- then was lost to history.

Rynier Van Nest, son of Rev. Abraham Rynier Van Nest and Margaret Willett, was born 1854; died 1931.His father came from a distinqushed Dutch American family; his other also came from a prominent family with American roots dating to Colonial times.

In the midst of the US Civil War, Van Nest Sr, was offered a chance to reside over the Amerian Chapel in Paris, and moved his famly there. When he disscovered that he would be sharing the pulpit in Paris, he decided to divide his time with another Protestant church in Rome. By 1866 he settled in Florence; to run the American Union Church.

It was probably in Paris that Rynier discovered the velocipede, and likely was a proficient rider by the time the Veloce Club sponsored the 20-mile road race from Florence to Pistoia on Feb. 20, 1870.

"It should be noted that the first commercially available bicycles appeared in Paris in 1867. These 70-pound "boneshakers" were made of wrought iron and equipped with wooden wheels encircled with hoops of iron, with cranks and pedals emanating from the front hub. Gradually, the best models were outfitted with the latest technology of the time---solid rubber tires.

"Velocipede mania" swept across Europe and around the world. On Feb. 2, 1870 a 20-mile race from Florence to Pistoria was run. The sport was so new that the first official race of any kind was held but three months prior; the Olympic sport of cycling was more than two decades in the future, and the first Tour de France was more than 30 years off.

Into this race came a youngster described as "pale and skinny, but fast and laid back"....described by Florentine poet Sebastiano Fenzi as "Your face is like a maiden's, and so no one will note, that you're a little wolf dressed out in petticoat."

Rynier WON the first bicycle race ever held in Italy, ( a preceder of the Tour de France) from Florence to Pistoia in Feb. 1870 on his "velocipede". The sad thin is that he was listed in the news and on the winners certificate as Rynner Van Hess. He was not yet 16 years of age at the time of his victory.

Few details remain of his later life, he attended the University of Pennsylvania medical school in 1880 and led a quiet life in New York City. Although remaining in touch with his family, he never married, and it fell to a cousin George Van Nest Baldwin to see to it that he was properly buried.

His cousin George Van Nest Baldwin (1864) helped to arrange his burial at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. (George Van Nest Baldwin being half-brother of Abraham Van Nest). Green-Wood cemetery wrote: "A New York attorney signed a letter permitting burial of Rynier, his name was George V.N. Baldwin Jr." (of course George was NOT a Junior; being son of Henry Rutgers Baldwin; but was probably called such to distinquish him from his uncle by the same name). Per information given to researcher David Herlihy by Green-Wood Cemetery, a relative, Richard Van Nest Gambrills was the executor of Rynier's estate. Richard Van Nest Gambrills was son of Anna Van Nest Gambrill. A granddaughter of Anna Van Nest Gambrill, Anne Van der Bergh of Peapack, NJ. (granddau. of Anna Van Nest Gambrill) is still living.

RYNIER VAN NEST ...... Birth: July 26,1854 Death: Aug.8, 1931

  • Dates ARE on the headstone.

Burial: Green-Wood Cemetery Brooklyn Kings County (Brooklyn) New York, USA Plot: Lot 6570, Section 31

Edit Virtual Cemetery info [?]

Created by: T.V.F.T.H. Record added: Aug 18, 2010 Find A Grave Memorial# 57304918

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Rynier Van Nest's Timeline

July 26, 1854
New York, Bronx County, New York, United States
August 8, 1931
Age 77
New York, New York County, New York, United States
Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States