The Pedalshift Project 013: The New Woman bikes the world

A baker’s dozen in, we feature our first bit of bike touring history. Set your wayback machine over 100 years to the 1890s as we learn about the amazing Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky, a pioneering “New Woman” of bike touring. Next time you’re struggling in granny gear up a big climb think about what it would feel like on a 42 pound fixie… just one of the challenges Annie faced on her amazing adventures.

Hey it’s the direct download link for episode 013 (mp3)

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The Journal

annie londonderry new woman

Special thanks to our guest, Gillian Klempner Willman the Producer/Director of the amazing documentary The New Woman: Annie ‘Londonderry’ Kopchovsky.

The New Woman is the directorial debut for Washington, DC filmmaker Gillian K. Willman and has been a seven-year long labor of love. In addition to producing this independent documentary, Gillian is Senior Producer at the Newseum. She also spent a decade working at Cortina Productions, a multimedia production company, where she has wrote, directed, and produced video and interactive content for more than a dozen cultural institutions, including presentations in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Museum of Tolerance, the Capitol Visitor Center, the Sports Museum of America, and the Lincoln Cottage Visitor Education Center.

Gillian has played a key role in the research and production of several long and short form documentary projects, including Peter Jennings Reporting: Guantanamo, Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report, and Discovery Education’s The Science of Plants. She is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Ben, daughter, Leila, and cats, Lucy and Oscar.

Learn more about Gillian at

More Annie


The Pedalshift Project theme is America courtesy of Jason Kent off his self-titled solo album. Check out his band Sunfields‘ new release, Habitat, wherever cool music resides. And hey, new video for Ghost!


  1. JohnnyK says:

    Wow this was a very interesting episode. I did not expect a history lesson that is for sure. I think Annie was very brave for what she did. I have raised 3 girls of my own and knowing what I know about cycling I wouldn’t take issue with any of them wanting to go on such a tour with the exception of them not taking care of their children which my oldest has 2 boys. I wouldn’t want her to leave them behind. So I am not sure how I would feel about that part. 3 years is a long time not to see your own children even if you could talk to them by phone. Also there was no mention how she traveled. Did she carry food, water, and other comforts with her and if so how? It would be interesting to know what gear she used. Did she gather food & water along the way? As a cyclist and specifically a touring long distance cyclist these are the things I would be interested in. Not necessarily what people thought of her feat or the propriety or politics of it all but how did she cope with the daily traveling by bicycle. I think they had hard rubber tires (maybe even wooden rims) back then so she most likely didn’t have to worry about flats but she did have to worry about rough roads with holes of mud and rocks. I wonder if that is in the book or film? At any rate I thought this was fascinating and obviously I want to know more. Thanks Tim for yet another wonderful episode and I can’t wait for more. Ride safe and Godspeed my friend.

    • Tim Mooney says:

      I thought this story had a little bit for everyone: history, women’s rights, biking, adventure, you name it. I was thinking I might try to track down some of the first people involved in the bicentennial route across the US and get some stories from them too. Annie was gone for 15 months, not 3 years (the guy who did it first took three years) but that’s still a pretty long time considering.

      Regarding gear: I forgot to ask about pneumatic tires… I think that was a major piece of the technology puzzle, but I think those were a regular part of cycling by 1894. As far as what she carried and where she stayed, that seems to be a little bit on the mysterious tall tales side of her ride. She probably stayed mostly in formal lodging, but she also spoke of sleeping off the sides of the road too. I have no doubt she did that, but if you read the Zheutlin book, you’ll see she had some pretty “incredible” (in every sense of the word) descriptions of her accommodations overseas. Considering the times and the entertainment nature of her shows, it all makes sense. She was quite the character.

      Thanks for listening in Johnny K!

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