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.

Cyclists in London

Soon after reaching London I have the pleasure of meeting "Faed," a gentleman who carries his cycling enthusiasm almost where some people are said to carry their hearts-on his sleeve; so that a very short acquaintance only is necessary to convince one of being in the company of a person whose interest in whirling wheels is of no ordinary nature.

When I present myself at Powerscroft House, Faed is busily wandering around among the curves and angles of no less than three tricycles, apparently endeavoring to encompass the complicated mechanism of all three in one grand comprehensive effort of the mind, and the addition of as many tricycle crates standing around makes the premises so suggestive of a flourishing tricycle agency that an old gentleman, happening to pass by at the moment, is really quite excusable in stopping and inquiring the prices, with a view to purchasing one for himself. Our tandem ride through the West End has to be indefinitely postponed, on account of my time being limited, and our inability to procure readily a suitable machine; and Mr. Wilson's bump of discretion would not permit him to think of allowing me to attempt the feat of manoeuvring a tricycle myself among the bewildering traffic of the metropolis, and risk bringing my "wheel around the world" to an inglorious conclusion before being fairly begun.

While walking down Parliament Street my attention is called to a venerable-looking gentleman wheeling briskly along among the throngs of vehicles of every description, and I am informed that the bold tricycler is none other than Major Knox Holmes, a vigorous youth of some seventy-eight summers, who has recently accomplished the feat of riding one hundred and fourteen miles in ten hours; for a person nearly eighty years of age this is really quite a promising performance, and there is small doubt but that when the gallant Major gets a little older - say when he becomes a centenarian - he will develop into a veritable prodigy on the cinder-path!

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Saturday 25th Apr 1885 (20:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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