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.

Boston and the Atlantic

On to Boston next morning, now only forty miles away, I pass venerable weather-worn mile-stones, set up in old colonial days, when the Great West, now trailed across with the rubber hoof-marks of "the popular steed of today," was a pathless wilderness, and on the maps a blank. Striking the famous "sand-papered roads" at Framingham - which, by the by, ought to be pumice-stoned a little to make them as good for cycling as stretches of gravelled road near Springfield, Sandwich, and Piano, Ill.; La Porte, and South Bend, Ind.; Mentor, and Willoughby, O.; Girard, Penn.; several places on the ridge road between Erie and Buffalo, and the alkali flats of the Rocky Mountain territories. Soon the blue intellectual haze hovering over "the Hub" heaves in sight, and, at two o'clock in the afternoon of August 4th, I roll into Boston, and whisper to the wild waves of the sounding Atlantic what the sad sea-waves of the Pacific were saying when I left there, just one hundred and three and a half days ago, having wheeled about 3,700 miles to deliver the message.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Monday 04th Aug 1884 (14:00 +0000) | 1 Comment | Permalink

Karl Kron

At Westfield I learn that Karl Kron, the author and publisher of the American roadbook, "Ten Thousand Miles on a Bicycle" - not to be outdone by my exploit of floating the bicycle across the Humboldt - undertook the perilous feat of swimming the Potomac with his bicycle suspended at his waist, and had to be fished up from the bottom with a boat-hook. Since then, however, I have seen the gentleman himself, who assures me that the whole story is a canard. Over good roads to Springfield - and on through to Palmer; from thence riding the whole distance to Worcester between the tracks of the railway, in preference to the variable country roads.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Sunday 03rd Aug 1884 (16:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

Massachusetts

Crossing the Massachusetts boundary at the village of State Line, I find the roads excellent; and, thinking that the highways of the "Old Bay State " will be good enough anywhere, I grow careless about the minute directions given me by Albany wheelmen, and, ere long, am laboriously toiling over the heavy roads and steep grades of the Berkshire Hills, endeavoring to get what consolation I can, in return for unridable roads, out of the charming scenery, and the many interesting features of the Berkshire-Hill country. It is at Otis, in the midst of these hills, that I first become acquainted with the peculiar New England dialect in its native home. The widely heralded intellectual superiority of the Massachusetts fair ones asserts itself even in the wildest parts of these wild hills; for at small farms - that, in most States, would be characterized by bare-footed, brown-faced housewives - I encounter spectacled ladies whose fair faces reflect the encyclopaedia of knowledge within, and whose wise looks naturally fill me with awe.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Friday 01st Aug 1884 (19:00 +0000) | Add a comment | Permalink

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