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 end of England

The threatening aspect of the weather on the following morning causes part of our company to hesitate about venturing any farther from London; but Faed and three companions wheel with me toward Brighton through a gentle morning shower, which soon clears away, however, and, before long, the combination of the splendid Sussex roads, fine breezy weather, and lovely scenery, amply repays us for the discomforts of yester-eve. Fourteen miles from Brighton we are met by eight members of the Kempton Rangers Bicycle Club, who have sallied forth thus far northward to escort us into town; having done which, they deliver us over to Mr. C—-, of the Brighton Tricycle Club, and brother-in-law to the mayor of the city. It is two in the afternoon. This gentleman straightway ingratiates himself into our united affections, and wins our eternal gratitude, by giving us a regular wheelman's dinner, after which he places us under still further obligations by showing us as many of the lions of Brighton as are accessible on Sunday, chief among which is the famous Brighton Aquarium, where, by his influence, he kindly has the diving-birds and seals fed before their usual hour, for our especial delectation-a proceeding which naturally causes the barometer of our respective self-esteems to rise several notches higher than usual, and doubtless gives equal satisfaction to the seals and diving-birds. We linger at the aquarium until near sun-down, and it is fifteen miles by what is considered the smoothest road to Newhaven. Mr. C—— declares his intention of donning his riding-suit and, by taking a shorter, though supposably rougher, road, reach Newhaven as soon as we. As we halt at Lewes for tea, and ride leisurely, likewise submitting to being photographed en route, he actually arrives there ahead of us.

It is Sunday evening, May 10th, and my ride through "Merrie England " is at an end. Among other agreeable things to be ever remembered in connection with it is the fact that it is the first three hundred miles of road I ever remember riding over without scoring a header - a circumstance that impresses itself none the less favorably perhaps when viewed in connection with the solidity of the average English road. It is not a very serious misadventure to take a flying header into a bed of loose sand on an American country road; but the prospect of rooting up a flint-stone with one's nose, or knocking a curb-stone loose with one's bump of cautiousness, is an entirely different affair; consequently, the universal smoothness of the surface of the English highways is appreciated at its full value by at least one wheelman whose experience of roads is nothing if not varied.

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Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Sunday 10th May 1885 (22:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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