Cycling in Turkey.

Pelotome –
around Turkey on a bicycle.

~ Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1887).

My Life and Times

by Jerome K. Jerome

From £4,75

June 1885 – Published 1887.

Around the World on a Bicycle.

“From San Francisco to Teheran” was the first illustrated volume of 29 year old English immigrant Tom Steven’s pioneering ride around the globe. The book covers the first half of the novice rider’s journey on his fifty-inch Pope “Columbia” high-wheeler, with a handlebar bag containing socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that doubled as a tent and bedroll, and a pocket revolver.

Leaving California, on 22nd April, 1884, he became the first cyclist to cross the United States in the process, sailing from New York to Liverpool, and continuing his journey in May 1885 through Europe, he arrived into what was then Turkey at Mustapha Pasha (now Svilengrad in Bulgaria) and today’s border at Erdine, “across the undulating uplands of the Adrianople Plains” to Havsa, Babaeski and Çorlu, where obtaining his “first glimpse of the Sea of Marmora off to the right”, he is able to take a swim in the ocean – “a luxury that has not been within my reach since leaving Dieppe” – claiming that “after a two months’ cycle tour across a continent,” it “is the most thoroughly enjoyable bath I ever had.”

Continuing “through the pretty little seaport” of Silivri, on 2nd July 1885, some 2,500 miles and “just two calendar months from the start at Liverpool”, he arrives in Constantinople (Istanbul) where he spends a month. devoting over 250 pages to his experiences in the country.

Finally leaving Europe for his “Asiatic tour”, on 10th August 1885, he catches “the little Turkish steamer” to İzmit to avoid “a band of brigands”, he continues on through Sapanca, “into the valley of Sackar”, and from Geyve over “the Kara Su Pas” (Kurucay) to Taraklı – “the worst mountain climbing I have done with a bicycle ; all the way across the Rockies there is nothing approaching this pass for steepness,” – and on to Nallıhan. Beypazarı, “descending into the Angora Plain” to Ankara, across the Kızılırmak River to Yozgat via a Kurdish camp, through Sivas into, what was then, Armenia, through Erzincan and Erzurum, experiencing “the more lawless disposition of the people near the frontier”, and passing south of Mount Ararat from Diyadin, “among the Koords”, “bidding farewell, then, to the land of the Crescent and the home of the unspeakable Osmanli” at Kızıldize (now Ortadirek), “the last village in Turkish territory, and an official station of considerable importance”, passing into Persia (Iran) at Avajiq on his way to Khoy and Tehran.

  • By Thomas Stevens.
  • Published by Sampson, Lowe, Marston, Searle and Rivington, London.

June 1886 – Published 1888.

Around the World on a Bicycle.

“From Teheran to Yokohama” was the second illustrated volume of Tom Steven’s pioneering ride around the globe and covers the second half of his journey on a fifty-inch Pope “Columbia” high-wheeler, from Persia to Japan.

Ten months after leaving Istanbul, the Englishman unexpectedly returned, after having been refused passage through Afghanistan. Arriving on a French Black Sea steamer from Batumi in Georgia, and sailing along the “striking and lovely in the extreme”, “charmingly variable” Anatolian coastline, via Trabzon. and down the “charming strait to Constantinople,” he stated “I have no hesitation in saying that the traveller who goes into raptures over the beauties of the Bosphorus would, if he saw it, include the whole Anatolian coast to Batoum.”

After “several very pleasant days” in Istanbul catching up with old friends and seeing the sights – “but as these were pretty thoroughly described in Vol. I., there is no need for repetition here,” – “with many regrets” he set sail for Alexandria on an Egyptian steamer, via Smyrna (İzmir) and Piraeus (in Greece), to continue his much diverted onward journey towards India once again.

  • By Thomas Stevens.
  • Published by Sampson, Lowe, Marston, Searle and Rivington, London.

September 1888 – Published 1895.

From the Clyde to The Jordan.

Narrative of a bicycle journey” was the first illustrated account by a rider of a “modern day bicycle”, and followed Scottish clergyman Hugh Callan – the same author of “Wanderings on Wheel and on Foot Through Europe” – on his ride from Glasgow to Jerusalem, which had previously appeared seven years earlier as a more in depth series of articles in the Glasgow Herald – the Turkish section published on 24th, 28th, and 29th November, and 1st, 8th, 12th, 22nd and 29th December 1888, and 2nd, 5th, 7th, 12th, 18th, and 19th January 1889.

Charting the author’s progress on a “Singer” safety bicycle, he enters Turkey, as it was then, at Mustapha Pasha (now Svilengrad, Bulgaria) and today’s border at “Adrianopole” (Edirne), – “few cities are more interesting to the student,” – where he continued through Babaeski, Lüleburgaz, and Çorlu – where “one old fellow was delighted that another Stevens had come” – before passing through Silivri and Istanbul, again referring to Thomas Stevens by pointing out, “from Trajan’s Gate to Constantinople I was only the second cyclist to pass, and the first with a low machine.”

Unlike Stevens, who caught a steamer, on the 4th October 1888 Callan cycles to İzmit through Kadıköy, “Tavandjik” and Gebze before heading south and becoming the first to cycle “through the very heart” of Turkey, with his route “the first in the interior of Asia Minor, for Mr. Stevens took the great highway near the northern coast.”

With soldier attendants for security, he passes the lake of Sapanca to Sakarya, Geyve, “Lefke” (Osmaneli), “among the romantic hills and dales” to Vezirhan, Bilecik, and Bozüyük, following “in the path of the Crusaders” to Eskişehir.

Detouring to Kütahya, “capital of Anatolia”, through Karacaşehir and “the beautiful lonely valley of Doganlu (or Dooaslan)”, he then heads south east to Afyonkarahisar, Akşehir, Ilgın, Ladik, and Konya, “the capital of Lycaonia”.

“From Konia onwards we tread the routes of all the conquerors – from Cyrus, Darius, Alexander, to Godfrey, and the Crusaders” passing through İsmil, Karapınar, and “beautiful” Ereğli, leaving the desert for the mountains “up, up, ever up the bare bare hills” to Çayhan, Ulukışla, and Pozantı descending to Tarsus, “the city of St. Paul”, and Mersin with “the ruins of Soli,” from where he caught an Egyptian steamer to Jaffa (in today’s Israel), via Beirut (Lebanon).

  • By Hugh Callan.
  • Published by Blackie & Son, London.


“Arriving at a street where it is possible to mount and ride for a short distance, I do this in the hope of satisfying the curiosity of the crowd, and being permitted to leave the city in comparative peace and privacy ; but the hope proves a vain one, for only the respectable portion of the crowd disperses, leaving me, solitary and alone, among a howling mob of the rag, tag, and bobtail of Adrianople, who follow noisily along, vociferously yelling for me to “bin ! bin !” (mount, mount), and “chu ! chu !” (ride, ride) along the really unridable streets.

This is the worst crowd I have encountered on the entire journey across two continents, and, arriving at a street where the prospect ahead looks comparatively promising, I mount, and wheel forward with a view of outdistancing them if possible ; but a ride of over a hundred yards without dismounting would be an exceptional performance in Adrianople after a rain, and I soon find that I have made a mistake in attempting it, for, as I mount, the mob grows fairly wild and riotous with excitement, flinging their red fezes at the wheels, rushing up behind and giving the bicycle smart pushes forward, in their eagerness to see it go faster, and more than one stone comes bounding along the street, wantonly flung by some young savage unable to contain himself.

I quickly decide upon allaying the excitement by dismounting, and trundling until the mobs gets tired of following, whatever the distance.”

~ Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1887).

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