Urban Cycling

Annie Londonderry: The First Women To Cycle Around the World

Annie Londonderry, originally Annie Cohen Kopchovsky

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In 1894, Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, a 24-year-old mother of three, set out from Boston with little more than a bicycle and a dream.

Annie, later known as Annie Londonderry, began her journey on June 25, 1894, when she rode away from the Massachusetts State House, a pearl-handled revolver at her side for protection.

Her quest? To circumnavigate the globe on two wheels and prove her entrepreneurial prowess.

Annie Londonderry
Image credit: www.annielondonderry.com

Cycling Into the Unknown

Annie’s adventure took her from the United States to France and beyond.

Adapting quickly, she traded the cumbersome women’s bicycle for a lighter men’s model, donning bloomers, much to society’s dismay.

Her journey was as much about ingenuity as it was about endurance—financing her trip through advertising on her bicycle and attire and delivering lectures embellished with tales of her travels.

Challenges and Triumphs

Each continent brought new challenges, from negotiating travel on steamships to cycling across foreign lands.

Despite skeptics who doubted her, Annie reached Chicago on September 12, 1895—two weeks before her deadline—claiming her prize and securing her place in history as the first woman to bicycle around the world.

Her journey is chronicled in Peter Zheutlin’s book “Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride,” offering an in-depth look at her exploits.

An Enduring Legacy

Annie Londonderry’s story remains a touchstone for cyclists and adventurers, symbolizing what can be achieved with grit and vision.

Her ride around the world shattered expectations and paved the way for new generations of cyclists, particularly women, to pursue their own paths of freedom and adventure.

ALSO READ: How Bicycles Paved the Way for Women’s Rights

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