Fred Birchmore of Athens, Georgia, belongs to a private club’s around-the-world cyclist. The club charter member, Thomas Stevens, pedaled his high-wheeler several 15,000 miles around North America, Europe and Asia between 1884 and 1887. Mark Beaumont of Scotland places the current world record in 2007-08, covering nearly 18,300 kilometers in 194 days and 17 hours.
Birchmore completed his epic poem two-year, a 25,000-mile crossing of Eurasia 75 years back this October. (North America came after.) And unlike the American Frank Lenz, that became famous after he vanished in Turkey while attempting to high Stevens’ accomplishment in 1894, Birchmore lived to tell of his trip. He’ll turn 100 on November 29.
Birchmore obtained his first look at Europe in the bike chair at the summer of 1935, soon after he made a law degree from the University of Georgia. He had been on his way into the University of Cologne to examine international law when he ceased in central Germany and purchased a bike: a one-speed, 42-pound Reinhardt. (It’s from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History) He called it Bucephalus, after Alexander the Great’s horse. Before his classes began, he staged northern Europe using a German friend and Italy, France and Britain with himself.
“I had some terrific adventures that had nothing to do with the bike,” Birchmore remembered in a recent interview in Happy Hollow, his Athens house, which he shares with his wife of 72 decades, Willa Deane Birchmore. He mentioned his rise up the Matterhorn, his swim at the Blue Grotto away Capri, along with his brush with the Norwegian Olympic skater and future Hollywood actress Sonja Henie. “I just happened to ice skate around precisely the exact same pond where she practiced,” he explained. “WellI had skated. I figured,’I will break my throat.’ Stunning girl.”
Working up the audience, Hitler needed to know if some Americans were current; Birchmore’s buddies pushed him ahead. “He almost hit me in the eye with his heel, Hitler,'” the fisherman remembered. “I thought,’Why you small. …’ He had been wild-eyed, made himself think he had been a gift from the gods” However, Birchmore maintained his cool. “I looked over and there were about 25 or 30 brown-shirted men with bayonets stuck at the end of the rifles. He gave a small speech and attempted to convert me there and then.” The Führer failed.
Though he had a comfortable life as the guest of a prominent local family, Birchmore was disturbed by Nazi Germany. From his bike, he saw firsthand the signals of an increasing militarism. “I was always passing tanks, soldiers, giant atmosphere fleets, and artillery,” he wrote in his memoir, Round the World on a Bicycle.
In February 1936, after finishing his first session, Birchmore cycled through Yugoslavia and Greece and flew into Cairo. After he attained Suez that March, tragedy struck while he slept on a shore, thieves made off with his passport and cash. Birchmore needed to sell off a number of his few possessions to cover a third-class train ticket back to Cairo. On board, he marveled at how”good reservoirs of kindness lay concealed even in the hearts of the weakest,” he wrote. “Afterword passed that I wasn’t one of these brain-cracked millionaires,’roughing it’ for its novelty, but bankrupt like these, I was immediately showered with genuine sympathies and supplies of material presents.”
Six months passed before he obtained a passport. He’d missed the beginning of the new session. Possessing little incentive to come back to Cologne, he chose to keep heading east so far as his bicycle would require him. He put off for Damascus and then on to Baghdad, crossing the scorching Syrian desert in six days.
From the time he attained Tehran, he had been in a terrible manner. “He’d lived on chocolate and had eaten no appropriate meals in order to not create his load too thick,” Miller marveled in his memoir,” My Pilgrimage. “I brought him into my home. The luxury it was for him to have the ability to sleep in a bed! And if we gave him a spinach for dinner he explained it was the most delicious food he had ever uttered. To the kids of the assignment, Fred was a fantastic hero.”
Back in Afghanistan Birchmore traversed 500 rocky kilometers, from Herat to Bamian to Kabul, on a path most of his own charting. After he had to monitor a village blacksmith to fix a broken pedal. “Sometimes, he also passed caravans of town retailers, guarded front and back by armed forces,” National Geographic could record. “Evidence of auto tire treads from the sands mystified him until he discovered that lots of the sneakers were soled using pieces of rubber tires.”
While traveling across the Grand Trunk Road at India, Birchmore was struck by the amount of 100-year-olds he struck. “No wonder Indians who escape cholera and tuberculosis live as long,” he wrote. “They eat only twice each day and moderate fifteen minutes of sleep” (He added:”Americans eat too much, sleep too little, work too hard, and traveling too fast to live to a ripe old age”)
Birchmore’s travails surfaced that summertime in the dense jungles of Southeast Asia, in which he tangled with dinosaurs and cobras and came off with a conceal from every species. However, a tree got the better of him after falling from the jungle, then he awakened to find himself abed using a malarial fever at a Catholic missionary hospital in the village of Moglin, Burma.
After riding through Thailand and Vietnam, Birchman boarded to a rice boat to Manila with Bucephalus in tow.
In early September he set sail for San Pedro, California, aboard the SS Hanover. He anticipated to cycle the 3,000 miles back to Athens, but he discovered his anxious parents around the pier to greet him. He also Bucephalus returned to Georgia in the family station wagon.
Nevertheless, Birchmore appeared back on his excursion with ultimate satisfaction, feeling improved with his exposure to numerous lands and people. “Certainly one can appreciate his own nation without getting disoriented in an all-consuming fire of narrow-minded nationalism,” he wrote.
Still restless, Birchmore had difficulty focusing on legal issues. Back in 1939, he required a 12,000-mile bike tour around North America using a pal. He married Willa Deane after that year, and they honeymooned aboard a tandem bicycle, covering 4,500 miles from Latin America. After working as a Navy gunner in World War II, he opened a real estate representative. He also Willa Deane increased four children, and he immersed himself in public affairs.
After he retired, in 1973, he embarked on a 4,000-mile bicycle ride through Europe with Danny, the youngest of his kids. 2 decades after, they improved the 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail. While in his 70s, he hand-built a huge rock wall round, Happy Hollow. He cycled to his 90s, and that he rides a stationary bicycle at the Y. A number of decades back, he told a journalist,”For me personally, the fantastic purposes in life would be to have as many experiences as you can, to brighten the lives of as many as you can, and also to leave this old world just a tiny bit better location.” To learn more about the amazing bicycle, please visit here
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