Tolstoy Rode a Bike

Tolstoy Rode a Bike

With a seat raised to his hip

The author of “War and Peace” took his first bicycling lesson at age 67, only a month after the death of his 7-year-old son, Vanichka. He was still grieving, and the Moscow Society of Velocipede-Lovers provided him a free bike and instruction along the garden paths on his estate. He became a devotee, taking rides after his morning chores. “Count Leo Tolstoy … now rides the wheel,” declared Scientific American in 1896, “much to the astonishment of the peasants on his estate.” A close friend noted: “Tolstoy has learned to ride a bicycle. Is this not inconsistent with Christian ideals?”

And that look he’s getting in the photo? His biographer wrote

What could Sonya be thinking on March 28, 1895, as she watched her husband pedaling awkwardly along the snow-edged garden paths? She was probably shocked to see him enjoying a new sport so soon after their bereavement. Was it callousness, selfishness, or the reaction of a prodigiously vital organism against the creeping fear of doom? She envied and hated him for being so strong. That evening, Tolstoy’s entry in his dairy consisted of the three ritual initials–“ifl” (if I live)–and nothing else.

Tolstoy was given a bike by the Moscow Society of Velocipede-Lovers? Sounds like something Putin may ban as the athletes start competing in Sochi. When they’re not on the slopes, they’ve ridden to and been spotted on bikes around the resort. And those three ritual initials? ifl? The spousal conflict the bike can cause is a perfect segue to the theme of Issue 09

a Valentines Day edition with articles about lust, love, and heartbreak on the bike.

We’re editing our magazine now and it drops next week. The current issue about a new year and new rides is available now for $1.99 a month.

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