It was a beautiful summer morning when slowly I wheeled my way along the principal street of the village of Walford. A little valise was strapped in front of my bicycle; my coat, rolled into a small compass, was securely tied under the seat, and I was starting out to spend my vacation.
The modern bicycle as we know it today was developed in England in the 1880s. A decade later, cycling was already a popular spectator sport and a recreational fashion across western society. Women's rights, class mobility and a modern spirit of individualism helped fuel this bicycle boom. In China, on the other hand, the bicycle's ubiquity reflected state-controlled social uniformity. Briefly, it became a symbol of resistance in Tiananmen Square in the 1980s, but crushed by tanks it later turned into a downward marker of class with millions scrapped. In the 21st century, the bicycle is enjoying a global resurgence. It is favoured as a sustainable form of transport, while also reinventing itself as a chic and sportive fashion object, and a generic protest vehicle.
It was a beautiful summer morning when slowly I wheeled my way along the principal street of the village of Walford. A little valise was strapped in front of my bicycle; my coat, rolled into a small compass, was securely tied under the seat, and I was starting out to spend my vacation. I was the teacher of the village school, which useful institution had been closed for the season the day before, much to the gratification of pedagogue and scholars. This position was not at all the summit of my youthful ambition. In fact, I had been very much disappointed when I found myself obliged to accept it, but when I left college my financial condition made it desirable for me to do something to support myself while engaged in some of the studies preparatory to a professional career. I have never considered myself a sentimental person, but I must admit that I did not feel very happy that morning, and this state of mind was occasioned entirely by the feeling that there was no one who seemed to be in the least sorry that I was going away. My boys were so delighted to give up their studies that they were entirely satisfied to give up their teacher, and I am sure that my vacation would have been a very long one if they had had the ordering of it. My landlady might have been pleased to have me stay, but if I had agreed to pay my board during my absence I do not doubt that my empty room would have occasioned her no pangs of regret. I had friends in the village, but as they knew it was a matter of course that I should go away during the vacation, they seemed to be perfectly reconciled to the fact.
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