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.

Dry pantaloons

Rolling over fair roads into the village of Oberkirch, I conclude to remain for the night, and the first thing undertaken is to disburden the bicycle of its covering of clay. The awkward-looking hostler comes around several times and eyes the proceedings with glances of genuine disapproval, doubtless thinking I am cleaning it myself instead of letting him swab it with a besom with the single purpose in view of dodging the inevitable tip. The proprietor can speak a few words of English. He puts his bald head out of the window above, and asks: "Pe you Herr Shtevens ?" "Yah, yah," I reply.

"Do you go mit der veld around ?" "Yah; I goes around mit the world."

"I shoust read about you mit der noospaper." " Ah, indeed! what newspaper?"

"Die Frankfurter Zeitung. You go around mit der veld."

The landlord looks delighted to have for a guest the man who goes "mit der veld around," and spreads the news. During the evening several people of importance and position drop in to take a curious peep at me and my wheel.

A dampness about the knees, superinduced by wheeling in rubber leggings, causes me to seek the privilege of the kitchen fire upon arrival. After listening to the incessant chatter of the cook for a few moments, I suddenly dispense with all pantomime, and ask in purest English the privilege of drying my clothing in peace and tranquillity by the kitchen fire. The poor woman hurries out, and soon returns with her highly accomplished master, who, comprehending the situation, forthwith tenders me the loan of his Sunday pantaloons for the evening; which offer I gladly accept, notwithstanding the wide disproportion in their size and mine, the landlord being, horizontally, a very large person.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Thursday 21st May 1885 (23:00 +0200) | Add a comment | Permalink

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