Cycling in Iran.

Pelotome –
around Iran on a bicycle.

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

My Life and Times

by Jerome K. Jerome

From £4,75

September 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 left Kızıldize (now Ortadirek), “the last village in Turkish territory, and an official station of considerable importance”, passing into Persia (Iran), “among the Koords”, on the old road to what is now Avajiq and Zaviyeh, on his way to Pir Musa, Khoy. and descending “by a precipitous trail into the valley of” Lake Urmia and on to Tabriz. and Torkamanchay – “where in 1828, was drawn up the Treaty of Peace between Persia and Russia, which transferred the remaining Persian territory of the Caucasus into the capacious maw of the Northern Bear,” – and passing through Zanjan, Hidjan, Qashvin and Tehran, arriving on 30th September, “making a total from Liverpool to Teheran of four thousand and seventy-six miles.”

He would spend the winter in Tehran, as guest of the Shah, devoting the final chapter of his first volume to the time spent in the city, including – “with something of a penchant for undertaking things never before accomplished,” – a walk around the city’s enormous walls.

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

March 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.

After spending five months in Tehran, he recommenced his journey from the Persian capital on 10th March 1886, heading south east on the Mashhad “pilgrim road”, across “verdureless waste” to Aradan, with “no drinkable water for a long distance”, passing through Lasjerd. Damghan, and Shahrud, crossing “mica-spangled hills” – “‘the gorgeous East’ we read of in fairy-tales,” to Meyandasht – “the first place in Khorassan proper”, – and on through Sabsevar and Nishapur into Mashhad – “the ‘jumping off place’ of telegraphy; the electric spider spins his galvanized web no farther in this direction,” – arriving on 30th March 1886.

Leaving south on the “unbeaten tracks of Khorassan” to Sharifabad, Asad Abad, and Torbat-e Heydarieh, he passed through Khairabad, and “through thousands of acres of wild tulips, and scattering bands of antelopes, on a “glorious ride across the Goonabad Desert” to Kakh – “famous for the production of little seedless raisins” and “considerable opium”.

After “toilsome mountain climbing” he passed through Nughab to the city of Birjand, east to Darmian, and Tabas-e Masina – “nothing less than the boundary-mark between that portion of the water-pipe smoking world which blows the remaining smoke out and that portion which inhales it.”

Close to “the frontier of Afghanistan”, “across the desert of despair” he meets “the veritable double of one of America’s most prominent knights of the pen and wheel”, Karl Kron, and jokes that he only realised it wasn’t indeed the author of “Ten Thousand Miles on a Bicycle” as, instead of inquiring where he was going, “Kron would have asked me for tabulated statistics of my tour through Persia.”

Detained in Farah, both for his own safety and for illegally entering Afghanistan, he is escorted back to Persia, via Herat further north, arriving back in Iran at Kariz, after crossing the border at Islām Qala, He returns to Mashhad via Torbat-e-Jam, and, on the 18th May 1886, retraces his steps through Ghadamgah, Nishapur, Sabsevar, Meyandasht and Shahrud. where the bicycle is taken apart and transported by mule over the Tash-e Olya pass, “a break neck bridle trail”, to Asterabad (now Gorgan). and Bandar Gaz, the Caspian Sea port where, on 3rd June 1886, he catches a Russian steamer stopping in Turkmenistan at Chikishlyar and Krasnovodsk (now Türkmenbaşy), on his way to Baku, Azerbaijan, for his much diverted onward journey towards India.

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

July 1891 – Published in 1894.

Across Asia on a Bicycle.

“The journey of two American students from Constantinople to Peking” is a beautifully illustrated book “made up of a series of sketches describing the most interesting part of a bicycle journey around the world,” in which the two young riders set off the day after graduating from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, in June 1890 and, over the next three years, “covered 15,044 miles on the wheel, the longest continuous land journey ever made around the world.”

Cycling into Persia (Iran) from Doğubayazıt, Turkey, after hiking up Mount Ararat, they continued on through Khoy, along the shores of Lake Urmia – “the saltest body of water in the world,” – Tabriz, Qazvin, Tehran, Aradan, Bastam, Neyshabur, Mashhad, and Quchan, which was later “entirely destroyed by a severe earthquake,” only a few months before the book was published.

Here they crossed the “Russian frontier” to Ashgabat, now in Turkmenistan.

  • by Thomas Gaskell Allen, Jr. and William Lewis Sachtleben.
  • Published by The Century Co., London.


“As though to belie their general reputation of sanctimoniousness, a tall, stately seyud voluntarily poses as my guide and protector en route through the awakening bazaar toward the Tabreez gate next morning, cuffing obtrusive youngsters right and left, and chiding grown-up people whenever their inordinate curiosity appeals to him as being aggressive and impolite ; one can only account for this strange condescension on the part of this holy man by attributing it to the marvellous civilizing and levelling influence of the bicycle.”

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

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