Articles

Penny Farthing Racing is Still a Thing

October 20, 2019


(fast orchestral music) – [Voiceover] The penny
farthing was the first machine to be called a bicycle. (bell ringing) They’re old, they’re funny,
and for some, still a big deal. – Sometimes I go into a local bike shop just for a bit of a joke and ask if they’ve got a tire to fit my bike, and then bring them outside
to have a look at it. (upbeat music) People find the penny
farthing almost hypnotic. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but people just love seeing it. And it’s just a real pleasure
to share it with people. – [Voiceover] Richard, being
an already avid bike racer, discovered penny farthing racing on an Internet forum one night. – So I entered immediately, very excited. And then realized that a, I
don’t have a penny farthing and b, I don’t know how
to ride a penny farthing. – [Voiceover] But he
overcame those hurdles. – [Richard] I’m a current UK champion, so I’ve got a title to defend. – [Voiceover] But penny farthing racing isn’t as easy as it looks,
and it sure doesn’t look easy. – [Richard] It’s a very
dangerous machine to ride. You’re sat up on top, on the
point of balance virtually. So, if anything goes wrong you tend to be going head first
over the front of the bike. – [Voiceover] The bikes can
be up to five feet tall, and that height has its benefits. – [Richard] Racing one of
these bikes, pretty high up you get a fantastic view of the crowd. It’s the best way to see the event here I always tell people. – [Voiceover] Height
is not the only benefit the penny farthing has. – A big difference between
riding a penny farthing and a normal bike is you
can’t slow down very quickly. You got to watch the road ahead. But I find the biggest difference is the smiles on people’s faces. When you ride one of these things, people just love to see it. They smile, they wave, they
pull up to take photographs. I’ve had so many conversations with people I would never, ever
meet without this bike. And that’s the joy of it. People just love seeing
it and talking about it.

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