The Wheels Of Chance by HG Wells
The story focuses on the boneshakingly clunkly named Mr Hoopdriver. Hoopdriver - like Wells' later creation Mr Polly, and Wells himself - is a frustrated draper's assistant; his choice of escape is to use his ten days' holiday for a cycling tour of the South of England. Adventure, and a stuttering romance, ensues.
- Read The Wheels Of Chance at Project Gutenberg
- HG Wells and the mystery of the vanishing sociologists
Three Men On The Bummel by Jerome K Jerome
A sequel to the more famous Three Men In A Boat, Jerome this time throws his characters into the Black Forest on a bummel - a German word for "a journey without an end" as one character explains. An end as in a purpose. The German setting allows Jerome to run through a collection of stereotypes and prejudices of the age, although not to such an extent that it stopped the book becoming a set text in some German schools for a while. General critical consensus suggests that this is a sequel which is more Grease 2 than The Godfather Part Two.
- Read Three Men On The Bummel at Project Gutenberg
- Take your own trip through Germany with our free language course
The Adventure Of The Solitary Cyclist by Arthur Conan Doyle
One of two Sherlock Holmes short stories to use a bicycle as a plot device, turning on the question of what sort of a man would hire a governess but make her ride a bicycle to work. Spoilers: a bad one. Also notable for Holmes having a fight in a pub.
- Read The Adventure Of The Solitary Cyclist at Wikisource
- Gait recognition: A Sherlockian twist to modern crime solving
Paris by Emile Zola
In the middle volume of Zola's trilogy exploring the failings of fin de siècle Catholicism, bicycles carry most of the characters, and much of symbolism. Zola was also pretty sharp on women who chose to dress more radically than conservative cyclists: "To think that some women are foolish and obstinate enough to wear skirts when they go out cycling!"
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
Transported back in time and through space by a plot device, Hank Morgan uses his 19th century American knowhow to great effect in Early Middle Age England. Not least is his "invention" of the bicycle, providing Lancelot and the knights with a battle conveyance more effective than a horse.
- Read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court at Project Gutenberg
- Modern bikes would impress even Hank Morgan. More on the science behind the bike
Miles From Nowhere by Barbara Savage
More up-to-date to finish, with Barbara Savage's memoir of a two year trip cycling round the world. Although one hundred years after Zola's cyclists, for some of the 25 countries Savage and her husband visits a woman on a bike is no less pioneering - or daring.