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.

Bears

The next day, when nearing the entrance to Montello Pass, over the Goose Creek Range, I happen to look across the mingled sagebrush and juniper-spruce brush to the right, and a sight greets my eyes that causes me to instinctively look around for a tall tree, though well knowing that there is nothing of the kind for miles; neither is there any ridable road near, or I might try my hand at breaking the record for a few miles. Standing bolt upright on their hind legs, by the side of a clump of juniper-spruce bushes and intently watching my movements, are a pair of full-grown cinnamon bears. When a bear sees a man before the man happens to descry him, and fails to betake himself off immediately, it signifies that he is either spoiling for a fight or doesn't care a continental password whether war is declared or not. Moreover, animals recognize the peculiar advantages of two to one in a fight equally with their human infer! - superiors; and those two over there are apparently in no particular hurry to move on. They don't seem awed at my presence. On the contrary, they look suspiciously like being undecided and hesitative about whether to let me proceed peacefully on my way or not. Their behavior is outrageous; they stare and stare and stare, and look quite ready for a fight. I don't intend one to come off, though, if I can avoid it. I prefer to have it settled by arbitration. I haven't lost these bears; they aren't mine, and I don't want anything that doesn't belong to me. I am not covetous; so, lest I should be tempted to shoot at them if I come within the regulation two hundred yards, I "edge off" a few hundred yards in the other direction, and soon have the intense satisfaction of seeing them stroll off toward the mountains. I wonder if I don't owe my escape on this occasion to my bicycle. Do the bright spokes glistening in the sunlight as they revolve make an impression on their bearish intellects that influences their decision in favor of a retreat. It is perhaps needless to add that, all through this mountain-pass, I keep a loose eye busily employed looking out for bears. But nothing more of a bearish nature occurs, and the early gloaming finds me at Tecoma, a village near the Utah boundary line.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Monday 12th May 1884 (20:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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