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.

Carson Township

My first day's experience in the great "Hawkeye State" speaks volumes for the hospitality of the people, there being quite a rivalry between two neighboring farmers about which should take me in to dinner. A compromise is finally made, by which I am to eat dinner at one place, and be "turned loose" in a cherry orchard afterward at the other, to which happy arrangement I, of course, enter no objections. In striking contrast to these friendly advances is my own unpardonable conduct the same evening in conversation with an honest old farmer.

"I see you are taking notes. I suppose you keep track of the crops as you travel along?" says the H. O. F. "Certainly, I take more notice of the crops than anything; I'm a natural born agriculturist myself." "Well," continues the farmer, "right here where we stand is Carson Township." "Ah! indeed. Is it possible that I have at last arrived at Carson Township." "You have heard of the township before, then, eh." "Heard of it! why, man alive, Carson Township is all the talk out in the Rockies; in fact, it is known all over the world as the finest Township for corn in Iowa." This sort of conduct is, I admit, unwarrantable in the extreme; but cycling is responsible for it all. If continuous cycling is productive of a superfluity of exhilaration, and said exhilaration bubbles over occasionally, plainly the bicycle is to blame. So forcibly does this latter fact intrude upon me as I shake hands with the farmer, and congratulate him on his rare good fortune in belonging to Carson Township that I mount, and with a view of taking a little of the shine out of it, ride down the long, steep hill leading to the bridge across the Nishnebotene River at a tremendous pace. The machine "kicks" against this treatment, however, and, when about half wray down, it strikes a hole and sends me spinning and gyrating through space; and when I finally strike terra firma, it thumps me unmercifully in the ribs ere it lets me up.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Thursday 19th Jun 1884 (18:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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