Cycle Touring the Hard Way

Fancy a cycle tour this summer? Spare a thought for Thomas Stevens who toured from Oakland California to Boston in 1884 on a penny farthing in a mere 103 days. On his small handle bar bag he had a poncho (doubling as his tent), a spare shirt, some spare spokes, one wrench, a little oil, a spare solid rubber tyre and of course a small gun. Carrying no food or cooking gear he was often ravenous, relying on the goodwill of people he passed to give or sell him food.


He was bitten by a rattlesnake, attacked by a mountain lion (the gun came in handy) and suffered many ‘headers’ on the rough wagon trails (going over the handlebars). He ploughed through 10 foot deep snow drifts, crossed sandy deserts, dangled his bike off a train viaduct to avoid the oncoming train, and strapped his bike to logs to cross large rivers. He estimated he had to push or carry his bike one third the total distance.


Needless to say he had such a great time he kept on going all around the world cycling through Europe, Turkey Afghanistan, China & the rest of Asia. Ahh those were the days!


1 thought on “Cycle Touring the Hard Way”

  1. Thanks Steve, that definitely puts things in perspective and I will keep it in mind next time I cycle on Riccarton Rd 🙂 What a great sense of adventure, conquering the world by penny farthing! The good news is that the world can still explored on two wheels. There is just less chance of encountering of cougars or rattlesnakes….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *