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The Most Extraordinary Journey Ever Taken By a Woman
When we think of American women pioneers for gender acceptance, few would be familiar with the name Annie Kopchovsky. In 1886 Thomas Stevens became the first person to bicycle around the world. A $10,0000 challenge (a quarter of a million dollars in today’s cash value) was laid down that no woman could match Steven’s accomplishment.
On June 25th 1894 a 5’3”, 100 pound Annie Kopchovsky with little cycling experience set off on a single geared bicycle weighing close to 50 lbs. Her challenge was daunting: start without any money, accept no freebies, and complete the trip in 15 month – less than half the time that it took Stevens. Finally in addition to expenses she had to earn $5000 en route.
Kopchovsky had to be enterprising in her approach and thus became one of the first athlete endorsers in history by signing a contract with Londonderry Lithia Spring Water. For $100, she hung an advertising board on her bike at the Massachusetts statehouse and headed off towards Chicago with the cash and a revolver, wearing a man’s suit and riding a man’s bike. To this day she’s better known as “Annie Londonderry” than by her real name.
Her adventures took her to every continent in the Northern hemisphere and were chronicled in the New York Times and other papers. She rode through Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Malaysia and was briefly imprisoned in China. On September 12th 1895, the 20 year old mother of three completed her trip, beating Steven’s record by 18 months, in what The New York World hailed as “the most extraordinary journey ever taken by a woman”.
Annie Kopchovsky a woman pioneer for the ages.
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