How Leo Tolstoy Learned to Ride a Bike at 67, and Other Tales of Lifelong Learning

Some say you’re nev­er too old to learn some­thing new. Oth­ers say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, you know where we come down on this. And we’ve got some celebri­ty case stud­ies to back us up. In a blog post yes­ter­day, The New York Times fea­tured four cul­tur­al icons and one war hero who learned new skills lat­er in life. Miles Davis start­ed box­ing when most box­ers are hang­ing up their gloves. Ayn Rand, in her 60s, improb­a­bly took up the hob­by of stamp col­lect­ing. Marie Curie learned to swim in her 50s. And the great nov­el­ist Leo Tol­stoy took his first bike ride at the age of 67. The Times writes that he start­ed cycling:

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.”

Appar­ent­ly that’s Tol­stoy and his bike above.

via @kirstinbutler

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Last Days of Leo Tol­stoy Cap­tured on Video

Rare Record­ing: Leo Tol­stoy Reads From His Last Major Work in Four Lan­guages, 1909

The Art of Leo Tol­stoy: See His Draw­ings in the War & Peace Man­u­script & Oth­er Lit­er­ary Texts


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.