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How Challenging Is It to Circumnavigate the Globe by Bicycle?

Amelia Earhart soared to fame in 1932 by becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, but Annie Cohen Kopchovsky (later and more famously known as Annie Londonderry) did something arguably as impressive nearly 40 years earlier. On a bet, the 24-year-old Boston homemaker became the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world. Not only did she set out without any money and finish the trip within the 15-month time limit, but she did so after having learned to ride a bike only days before embarking. And she made it even after a long detour early in the trip. Londonderry rode from Boston to Chicago on a 42-pound (19-kg) women's bike and was so exhausted that she considered giving up. Instead, she traded her bike for a much lighter men's bike and rode back east to New York. From there, she sailed to France and made her way to Asia before finally returning to the United States, via San Francisco. Six months of pedaling later, Londonderry again reached Chicago, completing her journey in September 1895.

Ride on:

  • Nearly half of all workers who live in Copenhagen, Denmark, ride a bike to work.

  • In 1995, Fred Rompelberg of the Netherlands set the record for the fastest speed on a bike, going 167 mph (269 km/h) at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

  • Susan B. Anthony called bikes "freedom machines," arguing that they did more to emancipate women than anything else in history.

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