Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky was the first woman
to bicycle around the world. She was a fiercely
independent and free-thinking young woman, who
found freedom by reinventing herself as the daring
“Annie Londonderry”—entrepreneur, athlete, and
celebrated globetrotter. The wife of wife of Max
Kopchovsksy, native of Riga, Latvia, and the mother of
three small children, on June 25, 1894 Annie stood
before a crowd of 500 friends, family, women's
suffragists and curious onlookers at the Massachusetts
State House. Then, declaring she would circle the
world, she climbed onto a 42-pound Columbia bicycle
and "sailed away like a kite down Beacon Street."
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Evan Hindman Jon Pennington
|Answer to Quiz #125 - September 10, 2007
|1. What was this woman's real name?
2. What is she famous for ?
|Thanks to Mary Fraser for suggesting this quiz.
1. Annie Cohen Kopchovsky
2. She was the first woman to bicycle around the world (Jun 1894-Oct 1895).
|Congratulations to Our Winners
Sandy Thompson Rich Mackinney
Elizabeth Behrens Andy Wold
Debi Stewart Grace Hertz
Susan Fortune Paula Harris
Margaret Waterman Delores Martin
Brett Payne Linda Dean
Kitty Huddleston Stan Read
Don Holznagel Debbie Anderson
Dave Doucette Kelly Fetherlin
Mary South Fred Stuart
Mike Dalton John Chulick
Ruth Jenkins Jim Kiser
Loren Godburn Suzan Farris
|Special Mention to
Rick's Quiz Angels
Ashley Hicks & Jina Yi
|Comments from Our Readers
This was a hard one! Special thanks to Ashley for figuring out the "Londonderry".
Rick's Quiz Angels do it again!!! Rick Mackinney
I wonder how many flat tires that she had on the trip? Bob Mackenna
I think that she may have been "lost" to history to two factors at the time: (1) She was
a woman during the suffrage movement, so therefore would be looked down upon by
"men" who owned the world's media, and (2) The late 19th Century was a time of
invention and horsepower, so the story of someone riding a bike around the world
probably seemed old-fashioned at the time, transcontinental railroads and horseless
carriages were the news back then. Hopefully, the documentary can shed some light
on her achievements. Andy Wold
Interestingly enough, I made a bicycling outfit much like the picture... no bicycle,
because they're expensive, even in reproductions :). But the outfit is cool.
Hey, my new hero! What a spunky young gal. Hope she wasn't wearing a corset.
She learned to ride a bike as an adult in 2 days -- wow!! I love her tale of
adventure and woe and the genealogy in finding her. Thanks for the Monday
morning ride! Judy Pfaff
This is a great story and I can't wait for the book and movie to come out! It would be
a great school paper! Elizabeth Behrens
Interesting story. I had never heard of her, or her story. We are just down the
road from Londonderry NH and the home of Lithia Bottled Water. You definitely get
people looking into things they would never have thought about! Dave Doucette
Reading articles on this and the way one thought a 110+ years ago really boggles my
mind --- yikes education has come a long way to help dispel these beliefs .... to bad
Annie did not live to see what her ride helped accomplice for women today...
Must have been one interesting lady. Can't picture you bicycling across the world
towing a wagon with 3 kids. Don't think it would work. Margaret Waterman
I came about this answer through the back door, sort of. I at first thought it was Nelly
Bly and, if you compare their pictures, there is quite a resemblance. But one of the
articles about Nelly said mentioned Annie Londonderry and bikes and... I got it. I was
nterested to read the story and amazed at what that little woman did all on her own.
Great! I'd like to know more too. I spent part of last summer riding back from Dallas
TX (to Anacortes WA-close to Bellingham) a trip of 3800 miles on a motorcycle and I
cannot get my mind around doing Annie's ride with a bicycle and in the social
environment of that day. I get enough grief from motels that don't want to rent to
bikers"! Kitty Huddleston
Yes, that was one intersting story. I put the attached magazine article about Chasing
Annie, on my cubicle wall and people are stopping to read the full article and are
amazed at her feat. Fred Stuart
|Annie Londonderry Kopchovsky
Described by the New York World on October 20, 1895, as “the most extraordinary
journey ever undertaken by a woman,” the unprecedented ‘round the world odyssey
was reportedly set in motion by a novel, high-stakes wager made by two wealthy
clubmen in Boston. Annie’s challenge was not only to circle the globe by bicycle in 15
months, but also to earn $5,000 en route. This was no mere test of a woman’s physical
endurance and mental fortitude; the venture was a test of a woman’s ability to fend for
herself in a man’s world. Despite having never ridden a bicycle before, the 23-year old
Jewish immigrant pedaled out of Boston leaving her husband and three small children
Paid $100 by the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company to carry its placard on her
bike, the company also contracted with Annie to adopt their name. Traveling with only
a change of clothes and a pearl-handled revolver, Londonderry earned her way, in part,
by turning her bicycle and her body into a
mobile billboard, carrying advertising banners
and ribbons through the streets of cities around
the world. Thus adorned and riding a men’s
bicycle and a man’s riding suit, Annie was a
remarkable sight to Victorian eyes.
By all accounts, she was intensely charismatic,
a gifted conversationalist, and wickedly clever.
It's virtually certain, for example, that she
concocted the wager story to sensationalize
her trip. She wasn't the first to try to capitalize
on the public's fascination with 'round the
world schemes, many inspired by Jules
Verne's 1873 book "Around the World in
Eighty Days." The 15-month "deadline" turned
Annie's trip into a race, a dramatic element
with press appeal. But, more important,
because the purported wager was over the
capabilities of women at a time when many
were campaigning for social and political
equality, Annie ensured that no matter where
one stood on the question of women's equality,
there'd be a vested interest in the outcome. It
was a brilliant device.
Though her motivation was personal, not
political - she was out to earn fame and
fortune, not to make a statement - she quite
consciously took up the mantle of women's
After the trip was over, Annie moved her
family to New York, where under the byline
“The New Woman,” she wrote sensational
features for the New York World. Her first
story was an account of her cycling adventure.
“I am a journalist and ’a new woman,’” she
wrote, ”if that term means that I believe I can
do anything that any man can do."
Annie began her trip on a 42-pound
drop-frame (women’s) Columbia
bicycle ill-suited for long-distance
travel, and attired in long skirts. When
she reached Chicago in September
1894, the Sterling Cycle Works of
Chicago offered her a men’s Sterling
weighing approximately 21 pounds.
The men's frame meant that riding in
skirts was no longer feasible and Annie
took to wearing bloomers, and later a
men’s riding suit. The Sterling, like the
Columbia, had a single gear and no
free-wheel mechanism, which meant if
the wheels were spinning the pedals
were spinning, too. But unlike the
Columbia, the Sterling had no brake.
The device on the front wheel is a
cyclometer, an odometer for bicycles.
An American diplomat in Paris gave
Annie the American flag wrapped
around the frame. This photograph of
Annie's bike was taken in San
Francisco in early spring 1895.
*Plus $600 for a single room.
The first foreign leg of Annie's epic ride was from Paris to Marseille in the winter of
1894-95. We're not quite so brave so we'll replicate her ride in late June and early July
2008. We'll stick to Annie's route as best we can, and share insights and details about
Annie and her journey when we gather for dinners. We'll try to imagine how she might
have experienced France in those early years of bicycle touring.
|Château de |
River Valley, Lyon,
Roman Ruins in
Vienne, Roman Ruins
in Orange, Côte du
|Use of a quality |
24-27 speed bicycle;
12 days, 11 nights
dinners with wine,
11 breakfasts, guided
tour of Fontainebleau
|As more women started riding, it became apparent that there needed to be some serious
changes to their long, heavy dresses in order to make it more safe to ride bikes. Read
A consummate self-promoter, and a skillful creator of her own myth, Annie became a
global celebrity, her adventures reported by newspapers from San Francisco to Saigon
and Chicago to Shanghai. Her genius was to seize on the major social phenomenon of
her day. The 1890s was the height of a bicycle craze in the US and Europe. The
women's movement was in full force, and the bicycle, said Susan B. Anthony, "has
|Read Peter Zheuthlin's Article "Chasing Annie"
in Bicycle Magazine
Peter is Annie's great grandnephew.
More about Peter.
|Read an Interesting History of Women's Bicycle Attire
|Our documentary film in progress, The New Woman: The Life and Times of Annie
“Londonderry” Kopchovksy tells the story of a fiercely independent and free-thinking
young woman, who found freedom by reinventing herself as the daring “Annie
Londonderry”— entrepreneur, athlete, and celebrated globetrotter.....Read more...
|Find out more
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