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.

The Starley Memorial

Pushing along leisurely, between showers, into Warwickshire, I reach Birmingham about three o'clock, and, after spending an hour or so looking over some tricycle works, and calling for a leather writing-case they are making especially for my tour, I wheel on to Coventry, having the company, of Mr. Priest, Jr., of the tricycle works, as far as Stonehouse. Between Birmingham and Coventry the recent rainfall has evidently been less, and I mentally note this fifteen-mile stretch of road as the finest traversed since leaving Liverpool, both for width and smoothness of surface, it being a veritable boulevard.

Arriving at Coventry I call on "Brother Sturmey, " a gentleman well and favorably known to readers of 'cycling literature everywhere; and, as I feel considerably like deserving reasonably gentle treatment after perseveringly pressing forward sixty miles in spite of the rain, I request him to steer me into the Cyclists' Touring Club Hotel - an office which he smilingly performs, and thoughtfully admonishes the proprietor to handle me as tenderly as possible. I am piloted around to take a hurried glance at Coventry, visiting, among other objects of interest, the Starley Memorial. This memorial is interesting to 'cyclers from having been erected by public subscription in recognition of the great interest Mr. Starley took in the 'cycle industry, he having been, in fact, the father of the interest in Coventry, and, consequently, the direct author of the city's present prosperity.

The mind of the British small boy along my route has been taxed to its utmost to account for my white military helmet, and various and interesting are the passing remarks heard in consequence. The most general impression seems to be that I am direct from the Soudan, some youthful Conservatives blandly intimating The Starley Memorial, Coventry, that I am the advance-guard of a general scuttle of the army out of Egypt, and that presently whole regiments of white-helmeted wheelmen will come whirling along the roads on nickel-plated steeds, some even going so far as to do me the honor of calling me General Wolseley; while others - rising young Liberals, probably - recklessly call me General Gordon, intimating by this that the hero of Khartoum was not killed, after all, and is proving it by sweeping through England on a bicycle, wearing a white helmet to prove his identity!

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Monday 04th May 1885 (22:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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