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Synopsis About this title Describes how a working mother of three took a fifteen-month trip around the world on a bicycle, an epic journey that changed things for all women. From the Publisher : "Peter Zheutlin's thoroughly researched account will make you wish you'd been around to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary woman as she went wheeling by.
Annie Londonderry — the first woman to bicycle around the world
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Willard was one of the most famous women of her day. The bicycle has proven that it not only has the power to change individual lives, but to transform society itself. For example, thanks to World Bicycle Relief WBR , today, across Africa, tens of thousands of women and girls are learning that they, too, can balance on two wheels and pedal their way to independence.
For these girls, hours spent in exhausting daily walks to and from schools miles away has become a short and exhilarating bike ride.
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The result is improved attendance and academic performance, for a short ride is far less tiring than a two-hour walk and frees up more time for study, chores and leisure. Health care workers who travel from community to community, many of them women, can now see more patients more frequently, increasing the quality of care and health outcomes. Women with small businesses, such as dairies, can now deliver more milk faster than ever before, increasing productivity and allowing them to expand their businesses.
Change can take decades, generations and even centuries.
Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride
Some battles must be fought over and over again in different times and different places. Some of the male prejudice about women on wheels persists in many places even today. Ten years ago I wrote a story for The Christian Science Monitor about a bicycle riding school in Somerville, Massachusetts that teaches adults to ride. Most of us take bike riding for granted, something learned in childhood and never forgotten.
The Renegade Rider of 1894
In Dominica, Janaki told me, bike riding was frowned upon for girls, which is why she never learned. It was assumed girls who rode bikes were loose. Dee Smith, who encountered sentiments similar to those Janaki described, told me she always imagined bicycle riding would feel like dancing, but a few weeks later, once she had mastered the art, she confessed she had been mistaken.
A few weeks ago, watching a series of videos produced for WBR, I was struck by how strongly the images and words of 21 st century women and girls in distant Africa mirrored images Annie created and words she wrote well over a century ago. One of the films features a fifteen-year-old girl, Angela, who received a bike from WBR that she uses to commute to school. Riding over rudimentary roads and through woods and across streams she was traveling under conditions similar to those Annie encountered in the s.
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