The Bicycle Adventures of A G Johnson

On the afternoon of Saturday 1st July 1882, 16-year old Arthur George Johnson took to the road on his high wheeler, bound for a two-night stay at Elbow Lane Farm in Hertford Heath. At 26 miles from his home in London, he arrived “rather tired”; it was, he wrote “my first longest ride in one afternoon”. 

Over the next 3½ years, young Johnson recorded the fascinating details of his rides in the meticulous handwriting common in that era. They certainly were adventures, having to brave road surfaces of such variable quality that we can barely imagine these days, brakes that made the descent of even moderate hills hazardous, hostile cart and carriage drivers (nothing much changes), runaway horses, street urchins and drunken soldiers, even bed bugs in his Brighton digs, and of course the ever-present danger of an imperial header. None of this stopped Johnson and his friend C H Button riding from London all the way up to North Wales and back for their 1884 summer tour or paying frequent visits to the celebrated Anchor at Ripley. 

Cycling History (Publishing) is pleased to present a high-quality facsimile of the diaries, thanks to financial support from the Cycling History & Education Trust (CHET) charity. The Bicycle Adventures of A G Johnson offers a rare insight for the modern reader into the world of Victorian high-wheeling. The diaries will soon be available for purchase online at for £25 plus £3.75 postage and packing.