Bicycle Touring with Nancy J. Farrier

My latest novella, Wall of Stone, in the collection 8 Weddings and a Miracle, tells the story of a young woman who goes on a bike tour in England. Although my piece is contemporary, I wondered about the history behind bicycle touring. I assumed this would be a relatively new concept and was surprised at what I found.



Draisine 1817

The earliest bicycle type vehicles, known as the dandy-horse, hobby-horse, or draisine, were patented in 1818. These two-wheeled inventions didn’t have pedals, but the rider sat in the seat and propelled himself by pushing his feet on the ground. Thus, the draisine had to be the right height for the person. This device was a lot of work on the up slope, but could be great fun going downhill. I can only imagine how interesting it would be to go on a steep downhill section with no brakes and what appears to be a minimum ability to steer. Even with all the work involved, there were still reports of some brave men touring places in Europe on the draisine.

In the 1870’s there were major breakthroughs in bicycle design. Pedals were added, so the rider no longer had to propel themselves by pushing along the ground. By this time the shape of the bicycle had changed. The front wheel was much larger than the smaller back wheel. The rider, seated up high behind the front wheel, could cycle at a much more rapid rate. Many problems arose from the precarious perch and the rough roads. I shudder to think about the precarious height combined with riding along rutted or muddy roads. How were they able to keep their balance?

1887 Bikes

1887 Bikes

The first bicycle club formed in Britain in 1878, named Bicycle Touring Club. The name was later changed to Cyclists’ Touring Club and is still in existence today. (In 2013, the Cyclists’s Touring Club had around 70,000 members.) People enjoyed the recreation of cycling, although at that time, touring was not the same as today.

Trip Planning

Trip Planning

Safety took precedence in the 1880’s when the shape of the bicycle changed once again. This time the two wheels on the bicycle were the same size and they were propelled by a gear attached to the rear hub. Now the bicycle was easier to mount, easier to control and became even more popular.

John Foster Fraser wasn’t the first to do a world tour by bicycle, but in 1896, Fraser and two friends set off. For the next two years, they rode around the world putting in 19, 237 miles through 17 countries and three different continents. Bicycle touring seemed to be on the rise in popularity and more people began to purchase bicycles for travel and for recreation. Other countries including the USA formed cycling clubs.

Today, bicycle touring is very popular around the world. There are several organizations that help people to plan a tour for their vacation. You can purchase maps, find places to stay, and figure out what and how to pack your gear. You can arrange a tour that is fully supported, complete with bicycle, meals and hotel arrangements, or you can decide where you want to go and set off on your own.

Modern Touring Bike

Modern Touring Bike

My husband, daughter and I love to ride bikes. We all have touring bicycles and plan to do some exploring as time and finances allow. What about you? Have you ever gone on a bicycle tour? Would you enjoy riding through England like the heroine in my story? If you had a choice where would you want to ride a bicycle? Please leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of 8 Weddings and a Miracle.

Leave a comment – Nancy will be giving away a print copy of the anthology 8 Weddings and a Miracle! 

8 Weddings and a MiracleWeather the storms of life alongside nine modern couples who hope to make it to the altar—someday. Be it a meeting in the wrong place at the right time, an accident that opens hardened hearts, or weather that seems to blow things off course, sometimes love needs a little divine intervention. Penned by an exclusive selection of Christian fiction authors—including Tracie Peterson—this collection of nine romances will become an instant favorite.


Nancy began her book writing career in 2001, with the release of her first novel, Sonoran Sunrise (Barbour). Since then, Nancy_FarrierNancy has published multiple novels and novellas, and coauthored several nonfiction books.  She now has over 375,000 books in print.

Nancy J Farrier is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children and one grandson. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

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40 thoughts on “Bicycle Touring with Nancy J. Farrier”

  1. Wow. I looked at the first picture and thought the artist had forgotten the pedals. I guess back then that was the early bicycle but it sounds like a ‘sit-down’ skateboard or scooter too. 🙂 Thank you so much for this post. I love riding a bicycle but currently don’t have one.

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of 8 Weddings & a Miracle, thank you for the chance.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. I own a bicycle but I have never gone touring. I do like to take an hour ride. I’m not sure I’d want to sit that long on a bike to go all day touring or over night touring. Plus my husband does not share my love of biking.

    Thanks for sharing your family’s love of touring. It is a unique way to see the country.

    Have you had any trouble with cars/ trucks getting to close? Larger vehicles would be my biggest fear. Second would be bike breakdowns- How do you deal with emergencies?

    • Hi Laurie,

      I ride often around my home, and yes, I do have trouble with vehicles. It can be scary and challenging. Last October, I was avoiding a car and crashed, breaking my collarbone. It was a learning experience.

      I usually have someone I can call if I have a problem with my bicycle when I’m close to home. Having problems when you are touring can be interesting. Each challenge has to be met differently.

      Thank you for commenting.

  3. Very interesting post. I have never been on a bike tour. I just don’t think my legs would allow it. I’m not in that good of shape.

    • Janine,

      When I first started riding my bicycle after years of not doing so, I could only go a mile or two. It took time to build up those muscles and endurance.

      Thank you for commenting.

  4. Sad to say I never learned how to ride a bike. We lived on a hill and my parents were totally overprotected (sigh). After I was married my husband tried to teach me but he bought this huge bike with racing handles and a tiny seat and I most definitely needed training wheels and the man had no patience lol. Will have to be in my next lifetime lol.

    • Bicycling isn’t for everyone, and I understand your parents worrying about the big hill, especially for a child learning to ride. I had to chuckle about your training wheels comment. There have been a few times even now when I thought I needed more stability. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Interesting post, I love the way bicycles have changed over the years although you still see the three wheels bikes sometimes. There is one in my neighborhood.

  6. I had no idea the earliest bicycle type vehicles did not have pedals. How interesting! Thank you for sharing this great post and giveaway, Nancy!

  7. I had never seen the 3 wheeled style of bike shown in the second picture. In museums and historical sites, I have seen several of the high wheeled bikes, but never the other style. It seems much more stable and easy to maneuver.

    We did bike for a while, but since we moved to our current location, it hasn’t been safe to ride on the roads. Too many if the locals don’t seem to feel bike, motorized or otherwise, have no right to share the road. Our son has been forced off the road several times on his bicycle. That plus being busy most of the time has put a stop to our biking. We do plan on going to Cade’s Cove in the Smokey Mountain National Park some time this Spring. The road is open to only bikes and walkers first thing in the morning. Not sure how far I’ll get before they let cars in, but it will be a nice ride. We rented bikes when we visited Dogwood Canyon near Branson, MO a few years ago. It was an enjoyable way to spend the day. An easy ride and no traffic to worry about. When we lived in Colorado, there were some nice bike paths in the Rockies. There is also a nice bike trail that goes across the norther part of Vermont. The Rails to Trails program is opening more routes for hikers and bicyclists. One day soon we hope to have the time to take off and explore some of them.

    I hope 8 WEDDINGS AND A MIRACLE is doing well. I love anthologies and this is one my daughter will also enjoy reading.

    • Thank you for your comments, Patricia. Those sound like wonderful bike rides. Rails to trails has done some great trails. I hope to have the chance to ride some of them across the country.

  8. What a great look at bicycling. I used to ride a bike all around our little town. Can’t keep my balance anymore due to a chronic illness. My friend rides regularly and has ridden is some fund raisers and authorized rides.It would be interesting to ride in England I think. Would love to win the book.

  9. Nancy, Ordinary Bikes has one of the old bikes with the big front wheel that people can ride. I’ll take you there next time you’re in town and you can try it out! Fascinating blog about the history of the bicycle and touring.

  10. Hi Nancy, I’m sorry I didn’t make it over here yesterday. Welcome to P&P. It’s a joy to have you visit. Loved your blog. I did not know bicycles were around in 1817! My goodness, I wouldn’t have wanted to own one. I’m a bit of a chicken and would’ve waited until they came with breaks and pedals. When I was young I wanted a bicycle more than anything. My brother had one and that’s what I learned to ride on. Had some bad accidents but I finally learned and I can still remember the pride I felt when I mastered it.

    Congratulations on the novella with so many wonderful authors! It sounds great.

    Thanks for coming! We hope you come back soon.

  11. I learn so much on this blog! I love it! Thanks for sharing. I love bike riding although my family won’t allow it anymore due to balance issues. I was perfectly content with my modern bike though. Some of the old ones do look very dangerous.

  12. Really interesting information about bicycles. I remember when I first learned to ride a bike. Took awhile but what an accomplishment for a young kid!
    Your book sounds really good. I am always looking for new authors to read.

  13. welcome,,interesting post,,when I graduated from high school back in I got a bicycle for a graduation gift from my parents,,so instead of walking to work I rode my bike,,didn’t get my first bike until I was 12,I usually rode my pony anywhere I wanted to go or walked,,that was back in the time when it was okay for a kid to go play or ride their pony/bicycle without fear of someone doing something to them,,,we lived in the country so we basically just went and rode anything anywhere,,lol,,a carefree time ,,but didn’t realize it then,, no cell phones ,tables,,video games etc..and we managed to grow up and turn out okay,I wish I could ride that bike again carefeel and no thought of danger

  14. I have never gone on a bicycle tour but think it would be great fun to do so. I am not very familiar with England but I would love to see all the popular tourist spots in England. Bicycling would give us a chance to tour but at a slower pace to see more and stop when I pleased. The book sounds really good and I would love to read it.

    • Deanne, I agree that bicycling does give you a chance to see the scenery and sights at a much slower pace. It’s fun to take the time to stop and enjoy the view. Thanks for sharing.

  15. What a great post! I love to ride bikes, but I really am glad that I don’t have to ride the older styles.

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