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.

Macadamized highways

Our Sunday morning experience begins with a shower of rain, which, however, augurs well for the remainder of the day; and, save for a gentle head wind, no reproachful remarks are heard about that much-criticised individual, the clerk of the weather; especially as our road leads through a country prolific of everything charming to one's sense of the beautiful. Moreover, we are this morning bowling along the self-same highway that in days of yore was among the favorite promenades of a distinguished and enterprising individual known to every British juvenile as Dick Turpin - a person who won imperishable renown, and the undying affection of the small Briton of to-day, by making it unsafe along here for stage-coaches and travellers indiscreet enough to carry valuables about with them.

"Think I'll get such roads as this all through England." I ask of my escort as we wheel joyously southward along smooth, macadamized highways that would make the "sand-papered roads" around Boston seem almost unfit for cycling in comparison, and that lead through picturesque villages and noble parks; occasionally catching a glimpse of a splendid old manor among venerable trees, that makes one unconsciously begin humming:- "The ancient homes of England, How beautiful they stand Amidst the tall ancestral trees O'er all the pleasant land." "Oh, you'll get much better roads than this in the southern counties," is the reply; though, fresh from American roads, one can scarce see what shape the improvements can possibly take. Out of Lancashire into Cheshire we wheel, and my escort, after wishing me all manner of good fortune in hearty Lancashire style, wheel about and hie themselves back toward the rumble and roar of the world's greatest sea-port, leaving me to pedal pleasantly southward along the green lanes and amid the quiet rural scenery of Staffordshire to Stone, where I remain Sunday night.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Sunday 03rd May 1885 (21:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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