I was emailed yesterday by a guy in America called Angelo who is planning his own cycle tour of Europe. He had read Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie and suggested that I might be interested in another book that predates my own by getting on for nearly a century;
“My strongest inspiration is a favorite old book, copyright 1922. The title is Traveling Light or Cycling Europe on Fifty Cents a Day. The author, Maximilian J. St George, was a young American, recently graduated from Law School at Notre Dame, in Indiana. Before embarking on his career, he went off on a 16 month cycling tour of Europe. This was around 1920. Total mileage was 16,300 miles (25,920 km). He traveled with little kit – a blanket; a rain cape; a change of clothes; shaving kit; tire/tube repair. The cape and blanket were strapped to a rear carrier and the rest in a 288 [cubic inches] knapsack hung on his handlebars. Far less than what kit that you or I carry on tour! The condition he placed upon himself was that he would not stay in any hotels, rather that he would ask locals if he [could] stay in a barn or some form of shelter. He wanted to meet the people of Europe vis-a-vis. Often he was invited to stay in their home. He worked his passage from Boston to London aboard the Anglican, a cattle ship. From there, he cycled to Dover, crossed the Channel to Ostend, Belgium and northward to Scandinavia; Southwest to Austria; west through Switzerland, Alsace-Lorrain, on to Bonn, then France and Spain, then the Riviera, Italy. St. George then rode an arc north and west back to England. Quite a tour, I say! He passed through every European capital except Lisbon and Petrograd [St. Petersburg].”
What an adventure and what a fascinating time to complete to an adventure in the optimism of 1920s post-war Europe. I can’t find out any more details about Maximilian’s cycling travels across Europe other than those provided by Angelo. He was born in 1885 and when he did return to America he became a Chicago attorney who made a name for himself in The Great Sedition Trial of 1944. He wrote about that experience too in a book called A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944. His book about cycling around Europe appears to be unavailable but if anyone has heard of it, read it or even knows more about the intriguing Mr St. George, I’d be interested in hearing from you.