Books about biking


The library of books about bicycle touring seems to grow by the day. I had been planning to compile of list of books about biking from my own library and others that I’ve read or know about. But another blogger, Darren Alff of Bicycle Touring Pro, has done it for me.
In a Wednesday blog post, he listed 42 books, with a synopsis of each and links to Amazon.com for purchase of the books.
I’ve cited some of the books on Darren’s list in this blog: The Lost Cyclist, by David Herlihy, out June 18; David Lamb’s Over the Hills, published in 1997; and David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, which came out last year.
Others sit on my bookshelves waiting to be read. And still others I hadn’t heard of until coming across this list.
Some of the books are by or about the pioneers of long-distance cycling, such as Around the World on a Bicycle by Thomas Stevens, who made the journey in the 1880s astride a “high wheeler,” or “penny farthing,” bicycle, and Herlihy’s fascinating book about Frank Lenz who disappeared in Turkey in April 1894 during a round-the-world attempt.
Others on the list are contemporary accounts of cross-country journeys, such as the one by Lamb, a longtime foreign correspondent who rode solo and self-contained from Alexandria, Va., to Santa Monica, Calif., in 1994. All of the books, it seems, would be useful resources for anyone contemplating a long trip by bicycle.
But one of my favorite books about early bicycle touring was not on Darren’s list: Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride, by Peter Zheutlin.
It’s the remarkable tale of Annie Cohen Kopchovsky (Londonderry’s real name), a Latvian-born Jew and the working mother of three who sought to escape her humdrum life in the tenements of Boston’s West End by setting off around the world on a bicycle in the mid-1890s.
A poem about Londonderry, published July 29, 1894, in the Buffalo Illustrated Express, summed up the spirit of Annie’s journey:
Away on the road where the dusty clouds whirl
Away with a spirit ecstatic
Goes the cool-as-an-icicle bicycle girl
Bestriding the latest pneumatic;
She heeds not the scoffers who scorn,
Though knickers her kickers adorn,
The cool-as-an-icicle, bicycle, tricycle maiden by no means forlorn.

A last note: Another resource for books about cycling is cycling-books.com: “A world of words on wheels.”

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1 Comment

Filed under Americana, Cycling across America, History, Journeys, Travels

One response to “Books about biking

  1. Pingback: They blazed the trail « Jim’s Bike Blog

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