News & Politics

Around the World on a Bicycle

Two Washington women are setting out to tell the story of Annie Kopchovsky story and reenact her journey.

More than a hundred years ago, 23-year-old Annie Kopchovsky traded in her flowing skirt for a pair of bloomers and set out to make history as the first woman to bike around the world.

The New York World called it “the most extraordinary trip ever undertaken by a woman.”

Now two Washington women are setting out to tell her story and reenact her journey.

In August, Gillian Klempner, 25, and Meghan Shea, 24, will don bloomers, climb on their bikes, and re-create part of the tour to raise money for their documentary film, The New Woman: Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky, based on a manuscript by Peter Zheutlin.

“We feel like if she could do it at a time when women weren’t even supposed to have aspirations, nothing should be stopping us now,” says Klempner, a documentary filmmaker who lives in DC’s Mount Pleasant.

For the last year, she and Shea, a GWU graduate student in interior design, have spent every free moment in pursuit of their dream. Now they have to raise some serious funds.

So they will pedal from Boston to New York City, collecting sponsorships along the way just as Kopchovsky did.

For a couple of hundred dollars, corporate backers can get their logos on the duo’s jerseys. Those with deeper pockets can buy an ad on the pair’s U-Haul, and if the price is right, Klempner and Shea would be willing to adopt a sponsor’s name—just like Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky took on the name of the Londonderry Lithia Water Company.

Klempner, Shea, and the rest of Team Londonderry will begin their ride August 12 in Boston and cycle to Manhattan, where they have reservations seven days later to party like it’s 1894.