Het is vandaag 125 jaar geleden dat de Amerikaanse Annie Londonderry zich voornam om rond de wereld te fietsen. Ze zal uiteindelijk in haar opzet slagen, maar dat zal nog meer dan een jaar duren, met name in september 1895.

Annie Cohen Kopchovsky (1870–1947), known as Annie Londonderry, was a Latvian immigrant to the United States who in 1894–95 became the first woman to bicycle around the world. She was a free-thinking woman, who reinvented herself under her pseudonym as an entrepreneur, athlete, and globetrotter.
The inspiration for betting (or falsely claiming there was a bet) on a bicycle journey around the world likely came from a former Harvard student E.C.Pfeiffer. Under the pseudonym Paul Jones, he started bicycling in mid-February 1894 claiming to be attempting a trip around the world in one year on a $5,000 wager. Two weeks later, the bet was revealed to be fake. Later in 1894, two rich Boston men allegedly wagered $20,000 against $10,000 that no woman could travel around the world by bicycle in 15 months and earn $5000. It is doubtful there was ever a wager. The alleged bettors were never named. Londonderry’s great-grand nephew and author of the authoritative history of her journey, Peter Zheutlin, has stated that “it’s virtually certain, for example, that she concocted the wager story to sensationalize her trip”.
If Annie’s gambit was a stunt, one person stood to benefit: Colonel Albert Pope, the owner of Pope Manufacturing Company of Boston and Hartford, which produced, among many other things, Columbia bicycles. His senior salesman at Columbia’s main store in Boston delivered one of their models for the start of the journey. The choice of a woman was an obvious extension of previous exploits. In 1887 Thomas Stevens had become the first person to bicycle around the world. Moreover, the bicycle craze of the 1890s was providing women with an independent method of transportation and fomenting an evolution in women’s clothing, from full skirts and heavy material to bloomers that allow for more mobility and freedom of movement.
Annie Londonderry was a highly unlikely choice for the completion of this wager. She lacked the experience, never having ridden a bicycle until a few days before her trip, and had a slight build, only 5 foot 3, about 100 pounds. In addition, she was a married woman and a mother of three children, ages five, three, and two.
On June 27, 1894, at about 11 o’clock in the morning, Londonderry set off from the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. The 24-year-old wore a long skirt, corset, and high collar and carried with her a change of clothes and a pearl-handled pistol. With good weather and roads, she was able to average between eight and ten miles per day.
When she arrived in Chicago on September 24, she had lost 20 pounds and the desire to continue. Winter was coming, and she realized she could not make it across the mountains to San Francisco before snow started to fall. Prior to leaving Chicago to ride home to Boston, she met with Sterling Cycle Works, whose offices and factory were located on Carroll Avenue. The company offered to sponsor her trip and gave her an ivory and gold men’s Expert Model E Light Roadster with the words “The Sterling” painted on the frame. It had a single gear, no freewheel mechanism and no brake, but it was 20 pounds lighter than her Columbia. She also switched from a dress to bloomers, and eventually wore a men’s riding suit (*).
With the change in dress and bicycle, Londonderry was determined to complete her world trip, even though she only had eleven months to make it back to Chicago. She followed her route back to New York City, and on November 24, 1894, she boarded the French liner La Touraine, destined for Le Havre on France’s north coast. She arrived on December 3 and became wrapped up in bureaucracy. Her bike was confiscated by custom officials, her money was taken, and the French press wrote insulting articles about her appearance. She managed to free herself and rode from Paris to Marseille. Despite being held up and bad weather, she arrived in two weeks by cycling and train with one foot bandaged and propped up on her handlebars due to an injury on the road.
Londonderry left Marseille on the 413-foot steamship Sydney with only eight months to get back to Chicago. The wager did not dictate a minimum cycling distance, so she sailed from place to place, completing day trips at each stop along the way. She visited many places, including Alexandria, Colombo, Singapore, Saigon, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nagasaki and Kobe.
On March 9, 1895, Londonderry sailed from Yokohama, Japan, and reached the Golden Gate in San Francisco on March 23. She rode to Los Angeles, through Arizona and New Mexico and on to El Paso. The Southern Pacific Railway tracks offered many benefits to cyclists traveling across southern California and Arizona, and Londonderry took advantage of them. Riders could follow service roads made of hard packed dirt and stop at shelters for train crews, where they could get a meal and a bath. Some presume she rode the train across parts of the desert, though she claims to have declined rides from passing train crews. From El Paso, she traveled north, leaving Albuquerque on July 20, 1895, bound for Denver, where she arrived on August 12. She rode the train across most of Nebraska because of the muddy roads. Near Gladbrook, Iowa, she broke her wrist when she crashed into a group of pigs and was forced to wear a cast for the remainder of her trip.
On September 12, 1895, Londonderry arrived in Chicago, accompanied by two cyclists she had met in Clinton, Iowa, and collected her $10,000 prize. She had made it around the world fourteen days under allowed time. She was back home in Boston on September 24, arriving fifteen months after she had left. When she published an account of her exploits in the New York World on October 20, 1895, the newspaper headline described it as “the Most Extraordinary Journey Ever Undertaken by a Woman”. Despite criticism that she traveled more with a bicycle than on one, she proved a formidable cyclist at impromptu local races en route across America.
Londonderry died in obscurity in 1947. In 2007 Peter Zheutlin, her great-nephew, published “Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride”. (Wikipedia)

(*) Voor mij de aanleiding om hierbij een lesvoorbereiding te voegen die ik destijds gewoon “CLOTHES MAKE THE MAN” heb genoemd, maar waarvan ik nu weet dat het “Engelser” is om “fine feathers make fine birds” te zeggen…

1.a blouse : bloes

2.a skirt : rokje

3.a sock : kous

4.a hat : een hoed

5.a sweater : sweater

6.a pair of trousers : broek

7.a sandal : sandaal

8.a dress : kleed

9.a coat : jas

10.a belt :broeksriem

11.a buckle :gesp

12.a shoe schoen

13.a scarf : sjaaltje

14.a handkerchief : zakdoek

15.a brooch : broche

16.a (hand)bag : handtas

17.an umbrella : paraplu


1.a bra : B.H.

2.a petticoat : onderrok

3.pants : onderbroek, slipje

4.stockings, tights : panty’s

5.a shawl : sjaal, sjerp

6.a nightdress : slaapkleed

7.slippers : sloefen

8.a ring : ring

9.a bracelet : armband

10.earrings : oorringen

11.a necklace : halsketting

12.a nail-file : nagelvijl

13.a powder box : poederdoos

14.mascara : mascara

15.nailpolish : nagellak

16.perfume : parfum

17.eye shadow : oogschaduw

18.face cream : gezichtscrème

19.lipstick : lippenstift

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