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Article

Seeking adventure and authenticity: Swedish bicycle touring in Europe during the interwar period

The Journal of Tourism History. 2017. Vol. 9. No. 1. P. 44-69.

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.