Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

A header near Rocklin

The ground is gradually getting more broken; huge rocks intrude themselves upon the landscape. At the town of Rocklin we are supposed to enter the foot-hill country proper. Much of the road in these lower foot-hills is excellent, being of a hard, stony character, and proof against the winter rains. Everybody who writes anything about the Golden State is expected to say something complimentary - or otherwise, as his experience may seem to dictate - about the "glorious climate of California;" or else render an account of himself for the slight, should he ever return, which he is very liable to do. For, no matter what he may say about it, the "glorious climate" generally manages to make one, ever after, somewhat dissatisfied with the extremes of heat and cold met with in less genial regions. This fact of having to pay my measure of tribute to the climate forces itself on my notice prominently here at Rocklin, because, in-directly, the "climate" was instrumental in bringing about a slight accident, which, in turn, brought about the - to me - serious calamity of sending me to bed without any supper. Rocklin is celebrated - and by certain bad people, ridiculed - all over this part of the foot-hills for the superabundance of its juvenile population. If one makes any inquisitive remarks about this fact, the Rocklinite addressed will either blush or grin, according to his temperament, and say, "It's the glorious climate." A bicycle is a decided novelty up here, and, of course, the multitudinous youth turn out in droves to see it. The bewildering swarms of these small mountaineers distract my attention and cause me to take a header that temporarily disables the machine. The result is, that, in order to reach the village where I wish to stay over night, I have to "foot it" over four miles of the best road I have found since leaving San Pablo, and lose my supper into the bargain, by procrastinating at the village smithy, so as to have my machine in trim, ready for an early start next morning. If the "glorious climate of California " is responsible for the exceedingly hopeful prospects of Rocklin's future census reports, and the said lively outlook, materialized, is responsible for my mishap, then plainly the said "G. C. of C." is the responsible element in the case. I hope this compliment to the climate will strike the Californians as about the correct thing; but, if it should happen to work the other way, I beg of them at once to pour out the vials of their wrath on the heads of the 'Frisco Bicycle Club, in order that their fury may be spent ere I again set foot on their auriferous soil.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Friday 25th Apr 1884 (20:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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