Biking by book

cialis order When I went looking for books on cycling I found there seems to be a grand tradition of people going about in strange lands on two wheels and writing about it afterward…well at least as far back as the Victorians. The most famously read is Around the world on a bicycle By Thomas Stevens (1889) but he did it on a penny farthing – which i think is insane. The images of the bike never really explain HOW it is ridden. I recommend catching some videos on Youtube before you read it.


Recently written Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride by Peter Zheutlin entertainingly documents the circumnavigation of Annie Kopchovsky on a much saner looking contraption.
But my favorite so far on that front is Dervla Murphy’s 1965 book Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle Travel writer Murphy, on a bicycle very similar to the one I own, pictured above, traveled through Iraq and Afghanistan in 1963; difference being her bike was named Rozinante and mine is named Daisy.

Jerome K Jerome also sent his ‘three men’ on a bicycle tour with 1900’s Three Men on the Bummel. You can look up the word “bummel” in wikipedia and it just refers you back to Three Men itself which describes it as”  a journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started.” William Anderson, authored a number of humorous books about adventures with his own family, a la Jack Douglas, put his family on bikes for their Grand Tour of Europe in 1973 with The Great Bicycle Expedition Free-wheeling through Europe with a cockamamie family, a potter plant and bicycleseatus. Sadly another book you can find for a penny if you look. Perhaps humor writers fall into obscurity as fast as novelists.

Families aren’t as popular in biblio-bicycle as soloists, but couples do turn up from time to time: Bicycle Built for Two Jim and Elisabeth Young wrote about their US grand tour by tandem in 1938; as alien a world as Murphy’s 1960s Iraq. Contemporarily, in Just the Two of Us: a Cycing Journey across America by Melissa and David Norton crossed the US only a few years ago.

In the here and now some folks have even made a writing career out of documenting travel from a bicycle saddle. Josie Dew has a number of this sort of book. Though I only found the US book Travels in a Strange State worth finishing, The late Anne Mustoe’s books are much more travelogues than personal meditations. Start with A Bike Ride: 12,000 Miles Around the World (1991)

A couple of other silly cyclists worth tracking down are British Humorist Tim Moore’s reenactment of the Tour de France in French Revolution , and a couple of BBC host Tom Vernon’s Fat Man on a Bicycle and Fat Man on a Roman Road.

I have finished most of these though I do keep a few unread just in case I have the desire to travel and none of the wherewithal.

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