Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, known as Annie Londonderry was the first female cyclist to cycle around the world between 1894 and 1895.
Interestingly, Annie only had the opportunity to bike around the world because of a lie told by a man. E. C. Pfeiffer claimed to be biking around the world for a $5000 wager. Upon discovering that Pfeiffer’s trip was a hoax; a couple of other men got together and wagered a bet of $20,000 that no woman could cycle around the world.
Annie stepped up to the plate and took that wager. She set off in a crest top, high collared shirt and a long skirt with a spare set of clothing for her trip around the world. She later traded her skirt for a pair of bloomers and her bloomers for a men’s riding suit.
Londonderry completed her journey and collected her prize. Along the way she got into a bit of trouble with custom’s confiscating her bike in Europe and a few minor foot injuries. Annie had never even ridden a bike before up until three days before her journey began.
In the 1890’s women were just entering into the women’s suffrage movement. In 1890 the two largest women’s suffrage organizations merged to create the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The group was lead by the famous Susan B. Anthony among others.
It is compelling to think about what it was like to be a woman in this time period. It is impressive to think about what courage it must have took to ride a bike around the world as a women; especially after a man had just failed to do the same thing in a very public way. Additionally shocking is the fact that Anne had no experience in bike riding in the first place.
It just goes to show, that anyone can accomplish what they put their mind to if they have a goal that is important to them.