It was on this day in 1894 that Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, aka Annie Londonderry, set off on a bike trip that, over the next fifteen months, would make her the first woman to ride a bike around the world. Plus: meet a contraption that can hit a home run about twice as far as the ones in the big leagues.
A Woman to Know: Annie Londonderry Cohen (A Woman To Know)
First woman to cycle the globe begins journey (Jewish Women’s Archive)
World’s Longest Home Run (The “Mad Batter” Machine) (Smarter Every Day via YouTube)
A lot of bike riders out on the roads as of late, getting fresh air and exercise.
Even a short ride can be good for your health and your mood, but a long ride can, sometimes, make history.
Such was the ride that began today in 1894, the ride that made Annie Cohen Kopchovsky the first woman to ride a bike around the world.
Kopchovsky was not an avid bike rider; in fact, she wasn’t a bike rider at all.
But she was enterprising enough to volunteer for a challenge set out by two of her fellow residents of Boston.
The men were betting thousands of dollars on whether a woman could match the round-the-world bike trip of Thomas Stevens in 1885.
They set the ground rules for Kopchovsky’s ride: she had 15 months to finish, and had to start the trip with no money, earning cash along the way.
She took two test rides – her first ever, remember – and then convinced the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company to give her a hundred bucks in exchange for carrying a company sign on her bike.
She also changed her name to Annie Londonderry. She was a living product placement!
As she rode from place to place (and, of course, she rode on ships to cross the oceans) she would earn money giving lectures about her travels, sometimes, shall we say, embellishing the details to make for a more entertaining story.
No need to embellish the final stretch of the trip, though.
It lasted six months, riding from the West Coast to Chicago, where she had completed an earlier leg of the trip.
She finished the whole journey in just under fifteen months, thereby winning the bet and earning $10,000.
Annie Londonderry wrote some newspaper articles about her trip, but then went back to a quieter life as Annie Cohen Kopchovsky.
I mean, if you’ve finished a bike trip around the world, you don’t have to keep proving yourself.
And speaking of long distances, have we got a video for you.
The YouTube channel Smarter Every Day set up a propeller-like apparatus with two baseball bats whipping around at top speed.
A home run in a baseball stadium usually runs like 350 to 400 feet.
This contraption hit a ball over seven hundred feet.
But can it hit a knuckleball?