American cyclists in England (1898)

American cyclists in England

Each year is adding its quota to the number of Americans who tour England on the bicycle. This means of going about affords a certain freedom from customs and regulations in a country foreign to the traveller, and appeals to the tourist, especially in England, where good inns and good roads are proverbial. The war has seriously interfered with American travel this year, but not withstanding this fact England is now pretty well covered with American cyclists, some recreating in favoured districts for the summer and others passing through on their way to the Continent. As early as the day of Mr Gladstone’s funeral, a party stopping at Hawarden were mentioned in the Liverpool papers as “American visitors mounted on magnificently equipped bicycles.” The lightness and finish of the American cycle attracts much attention. In many places boys and even men follow the cycles for considerable distances, commenting on and admiring them. In London a crowed gathered which the police failed to disperse and were compelled to order the cyclists to move on. A jolly party, known among themselves as the satisfied seven, enjoyed a capital spin from Liverpool to London. One of the lady members of the party sustained a serious accident to her bicycle and pluckily rode more than thirty miles with only one pedal, eliciting many amusing remarks from the roadside, such as “she’s got a wooden laig!” Despite accidents, obstacles in the way of the cyclist are small. The rain is at first a problem in a country like England, but after a few days the oblivious cyclist will be seen leaving his hotel in the face of a tempest snugly housed in his rain-cape. He is magnificently repaid for his sacrifices. The country has its perennial reward and the running of the gauntlet of ‘bus and hack drivers in a London street is ever his fond delight. A hundred pleasures are afforded by this recreation uncommon to other modes of travel, not the least of which is the possibility of some time, somewhere at a rare old inn, finding a genuine old-fashioned landlord left out of the last century who will entertain the tourist in a way that does the heart good – a way that is the realisation of all the English novels and English melodramas he has ever read or seen – a way that makes a happy American.

Illustrated London News, Saturday, July 09, 1898

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