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First Penny Farthing Race in 100 Years

Thirty-two cyclist from across the globe took part in London's first penny-farthing race in 100 years.

Enthusiastic riders from across Europe and as far away as Australia, Canada and the United States raced along the track near Smithfield Market in the British capital on Saturday (June 11).

Some of the models which were used by some competitors date back more than 100 years.

The race course measured around one kilometre and the actual run lasted just over twenty-five minutes. But race organiser Phil Saunders said he was convinced that whoever came to watch the event would not regret it.

"The spectators and other people will get a real thrill out of seeing these 120 year old bikes race and they race. They race at 20-25MPH, they are banking at what looks like 45 degrees and they are very competitive and very very exciting to watch."

Besides its entertainment element, Katrina Jungnickel, a rider from Austria, added that it is equally as exciting to ride as it is to watch.

"You only have to ride one once and then you're hooked. It's a terrible and wonderful thing, you only need about a minute on top of a penny farthing and suddenly you like maybe

I can fit a penny farthing into my house - and you do, and then you start traipsing all over the World with your penny farthing and you meet amazing people and then you find yourself racing at great events like this."

While one might think it would take a lot of skill to stay in the saddle of a penny-farthing bike, British rider Cally suggested that they were safer to ride than the London "Boris" bike, which were introduced by the London mayor last year.

"Although nobody ever bothered to do it you probably find that riding these is a lot safer than riding a normal bike, an inexperience rider of a "Boris" bike is probably more prone to coming a cropper".

The only downside he added, was getting off it. "When you come off one of these it hurts, it really hurts", he said.

Three riders dominated Saturday's race, of which Jim Brailsford was the first to cross the finishing line.

Penny-farthings were invented back in 1871 by James Starley, who has become known as the "Father of the Bicycle Industry".

Organizers are now hoping to make the race become an annual London event.


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