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 Elm Creek

East of Plum Creek a greater proportion of ridable road is encountered, but they still continue to be nothing more than well-worn wagon-trails across the prairie, and when teams are met en route westward one has to give and the other take, in order to pass. It is doubtless owing to misunderstanding a cycler's capacities, rather than ill-nature, that makes these Western teamsters oblivious to the precept, "It is better to give than to receive;" and if ignorance is bliss, an outfit I meet to-day ought to comprise the happiest mortals in existence. Near Elm Creek I meet a train of "schooners," whose drivers fail to recognize my right to one of the two wheel-tracks; and in my endeavor to ride past them on the uneven greensward, I am rewarded by an inglorious header. A dozen freckled Arkansawish faces are watching my movements with undisguised astonishment; and when my crest - alien self is spread out on the prairie, these faces - one and all - resolve into expansive grins, and a squeaking female voice from out nearest wagon, pipes: "La me! that's a right smart chance of a travelling machine, but, if that's the way they stop 'em, I wonder they don't break every blessed bone in their body." But all sorts of people are mingled promiscuously here, for, soon after this incident, two young men come running across the prairie from a semi-dug-out, who prove to be college graduates from "the Hub," who are rooting prairie here in Nebraska, preferring the free, independent life of a Western farmer to the restraints of a position at an Eastern desk. They are more conversant with cycling affairs than myself, and, having heard of my tour, have been on the lookout, expecting I would pass this way.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Wednesday 11th Jun 1884 (15:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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