Well, he was right - my interest was piqued and I was captivated by the idea of anyone, namely, a young woman, taking on such an adventure, especially, in the late 1890's. I decided to do a bit of research on this remarkable young woman and realized that not only did she make cycling history, but also achieved some great strides for ordinary women traveling alone.
I'm not sure ordinary would be a word I would use to describe Annie, as she was independent, had a flair for creating marketing and sales, and most importantly, challenged the traditional view of the role of women held by society during her era.
Before we talk about how she shook up tradition, let's take a look into her background and personal life.
Even more crazy is that Annie Kopchovsky could not have been a more unlikely candidate for such a feat. In the first place, she was a mother of three small children under the age of six, and moreover, had never ridden a bicycle until a few days before her trip!
However, it's apparent from the historic events that would unfold, that Annie was determined to be that hypothetical bike riding woman over which the wager was made. Her savvy business acumen led her to embrace sponsorships, which would be necessary to finance such a world-wide trip.
Essentially, she did for herself and the success of her venture, exactly what she had been doing for newspapers - selling advertising space - only this time it was on her bike and her person.
Annie also happened to be a brilliant storyteller, telling tales throughout her travels of the adventures and mishaps she experienced. Many believed that a great deal of these were just fabrications and out and out lies, but all of her entrepreneurial efforts to create a buzz and finance her round the world trip proved tremendously successful as her stories captivated the media and boosted her popularity.
For example, while in France she characterized herself as an orphan, wealthy heiress, a Harvard medical student, the inventor of a new method of stenography, and the niece of a U.S. senator.
When she was back home in America, she shared exciting exploits about hunting tigers in India with German royalty and getting sent to a Japanese prison with a bullet wound. Always looking to build rapport and self promote wherever she was, Annie gave cycling demonstrations and sold merchandise featuring her likeness. Her abilities to successfully market herself are quite impressive.
THE CYCLING ROUTE
Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride
in 2007, Annie's world bike ride proceeded according to the timeline below.
There are no dates specified for cities except for those given below.
June 25, 1894 - Boston, Massachusetts
Providence, Rhode Island
New York City, New York
Albany, New York
Syracuse, New York
Rochester, New York
Buffalo, New York
September 24, 1894 - Chicago, Illinois
Same route back to New York City
November 24, 1894 - New York City, New York
(Sailed from New York to Le Harvre, France)
December 3, 1894 - Le Havre, France
Lyon and Valence, France
Alexandria and Port Said, Egypt
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Hong Kong and Port Arthur, China
Korea to Vladivostok, Russia (unconfirmed)
March 9, 1895 - Nagasaki and Yokohama, Japan
(Sailed from Japan to San Francisco, California)
San Jose, California
San Luis Obispo, California
Santa Barbara, California
Los Angeles, California
San Bernardino, California
Deming, New Mexico
El Paso, Texas
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Las Vegas, New Mexico
Raton, New Mexico
La Junta, Colorado
Colorado Springs, Colorado
August 12, 1895 - Denver, Colorado
Train through Nebraska
Missouri Valley, Iowa
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
September 12, 1895 - Chicago, Illinois
September 24, 1895 - Boston, Massachusetts
Remembering that Annie was not living in the free and modern times of today's world, she was a true trailblazer in the late 1800's. Full of courage, not only to venture into the geographical unknowns by herself, but she also bucked the societal mores of the time that dictated that women, particularly, married ones with children, stay at home and embrace their duty.
Annie's independent and determined nature set her apart from other women of her era as she shook up society's view of women and what they were capable of doing. In fact, the whole wager was very much a far fetched joke between two wealthy men and Annie undoubtedly, shocked them both!
As a 21st-Century, independent, single mom who travels the world over, both alone and with my children, I take for granted the freedom I enjoy to just up and take off, with my gender bearing no relevance upon the freedom to do so.
It is women like Annie who paved the way for globetrotting women like myself and my cousin Tanya, to enjoy the luxury of solo travel today. Thanks Annie!