another book beginning: Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride by Peter Zheutlin

There is a book beginning coming up. Bear with me.


This beautiful book was a gift to me from my old friend Fil. Fil has bought me a number of bicycle-related books over the years:


Six Days of Madness tells all about the golden era of six-day bicycle racing in the United States in the 1900’s and 1910’s. It’s got a bunch of racer profiles and stories from specific races. I found it fascinating.


Bicycle Racing in the Modern Era is a VeloNews publication, recapping 25 years of the magazine’s coverage of cycling – road, mountain, track, and cyclocross. (Which 25 years I’m not precisely sure, but it was published in 1997 if that helps.) It was great to read about all the hot new stuff, after it was no longer hot and new. It was also great to read a summing-up of what’s greatest in bike racing WITHOUT being inundated with the greatness of Lance Armstrong. I believe, from memory, that he rated one article in the whole book! That was refreshing. (Yes, Lance Armstrong has done amazing things, but this Texan, for one, is sick of hearing about him.)


Along with Annie Londonderry, this time, Fil gave me both volumes of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan. The former book references our shared interest in cycle touring; the latter references our shared interest in Mexico, and my (limited, hopefully to be increased upon) travel in the Yucatan peninsula.

Fil gives good gifts! Thank you, Fil! But this is supposed to be a post about a book.

Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride tells the story of Annie Kopchovsky, a Jewish immigrant living in Boston, who took on the, ahem, extraordinary challenge to become the first woman to ride around the world on her bicycle, as Thomas Stevens had done a few years before. Aside from being a feat of athleticism, adventure, and international travel, and aside from being an outlandishly independent-woman sort of thing to do in 1894, it was most likely the first time a woman had undertaken product endorsement and sports marketing. She became Annie Londonderry when her first sponsor appeared: the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company.

Sports marketing, women doing outlandish things, bicycles, travel, and history! All in one story! I am excited.

The prologue opens with a quotation.

The maiden with her wheel of old
Sat by the fire to spin,
While lightly through her careful hold
The flax slid out and in
Today her distaff, rock and reel
Far out of sight are hurled
And now the maiden with her wheel
Goes spinning round the world

–Madelyne Bridges, Outing magazine, September 1893

This is, of course, not properly the beginning of the *book*, but I’m hoping you’ll allow me to take liberties, because this quotation struck me.

I have a good feeling about this one.

3 Responses

  1. Are you bicyclist? I’ve never met one before. Cool.

  2. You’ve never met a bicyclist? I wonder where you live?? Thanks for stopping by! I am a bicyclist.

  3. […] Cohen Kopchovsky, better known as Annie Londonderry, like the tale of adventure it is. As I said earlier, this story combines sports marketing, women doing outrageous things, bicycles, travel, and […]

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