(1/5) From cyclist to fisherman ...


     Born in Orléans, France, in 1864, Louis Bouglé spent a large part of his youth in the USA. His constant trips and voyages across the Channel and the Atlantic allowed him to perfect our language so much so that he wrote several of his articles in Shakespeare’s tongue.

       Louis was also a fervent cyclist cultivating success as a racer, coach and chronicler under the name of L.B. Spoke (at this point we at are the end of the 19th Century and cycling was beginning to make its impact as a sport in French society). He regularly frequented the velodromes and particularly the Buffalo in Paris, run at the time by Tristan Bernard.

       He became the French Sales Rep for the British bicycle chain manufacturer Simpson, and owned a bike shop on the Boulevard Haussman in Paris. It’s there, in fact, in 1896, that he commissioned Toulouse-Lautrec to create a poster vaunting the famous chains. The painter was fascinated by motion, sports in general, and cycling in particular. In the background of this famous poster, it is possible to distinguish the imposing silhouette of Tristan Bernard, next to that of L.B. Spoke, alias Louis Bouglé.


 In the background are Tristan Bernard, the sports impresario who was a close friend of Lautrec, with Louis Bougle, the French agent who adopted the name 'Spoke.'


        Bouglé’s refined taste for sports did not exclude a great admiration for those things artistic and he was part of a group that was passionate about the young school of painting and promoted the works of his friend Toulouse-Lautrec, at a time when it was easier to do otherwise. Thus the painter sketched the sportsman twice (“Bouglé in a boater” and “Bouglé in a cap”) before doing his portrait in 1898. 

                                  Bouglé in a boater
                                        Bouglé in a cap


Louis Bouglé


            Then in 1900, something no less strange happened. Witness this article in ‘Le Vélo’, which appeared in 1902 : 

    “A French sportsman who raced as an amateur – occasionally - as a professional - often, not for glory but because of his passion – under an English pseudonym, made a fortune in gambling. 2 years ago this gentleman racer won a million (Francs) at cards. Since then, his stash must have grown, unless…unless, having realising his dream, he retired to the country, near to a few streams well stocked with fish. Because the dream of this inveterate gambler, with the coolness of Jupiter, was to win a million so that he could retire to pastures new and satisfy his passion for fishing!”

         And Bouglé had, in effect, been combining other passions for many a long year: trout and salmon fishing and…Casting competitions.