Seeking adventure and authenticity: Swedish bicycle touring in Europe during the interwar period
This article examines how young Swedes travelled Europe by bicycle during the interwar period, utilising their travelogues as primary source. Notwithstanding their often limited literary qualities, these accounts offer a valuable tool for capturing peoples’ experiences, motivations, and practices. The article challenges sequential understandings of mobility and instead frames different mobility practices as co-existing but under constant reconfiguration. As car driving emerged and grew, cycling never disappeared, but changed as a practice under the influence of automobility. The pursuit and enjoyment of adventure remained central to cycling in the interwar period – although those involved came from new social groups. The framing of bicycling as an authentic activity even grew stronger. At the same time, cycle touring was reinterpreted as a less comfortable and convenient mode in relation to the competing but still only emergent practice of car touring. Meanwhile, infrastructures were recast to the benefit of motor-powered vehicles. The transformation of roads acted as a catalyst in the reconfiguration between cycling and driving.