Saturday, December 31, 2011

Highwheeling at Exmoor

They don't have motors, but the simplicity and elegance of vintage bicycles holds a special charm for many motorcyclist.  The highwheeler, or pennyfarthing (so called because the large front wheel and small rear wheel apparently reminded early cyclists of the English penny and farthing coins)is a particularly fascinating machine, both because of its historical value as the forerunner of the modern safety bicycle, and its very oddness and Victorian charm.  I was surprised to find that a race is held in Knutsford, UK every ten years to showcase these "hopelessly obsolete and slightly dangerous machines" (in the words of the Guardian's article on the competition, which can be found here).  Unfortunately, the last Knutsford race was held in 2010, so we'll have to wait until 2020 for the next opportunity to see it, but the following video should provide plenty of daydream fodder in the mean time.  The boys of Team Spend a Penny ride in Exmoor National Park as part of their training for the 2010 Knutsford Race.  It's got lovely scenery, what looks like a vintage Land Rover to transport the bike, a break for a well-deserved pint, some very impressive riding (even a small climb can be a major trail on a pennyfarthing, nevermind the hills of Exmoor!), and good music to boot. Enjoy.

It's Better in the Wind

Scott Toepfer has produced a new masterpiece of motorcycle cinema with his short film "It's Better in the Wind."  It's 15 minutes of pure joy, Triumphs and the majestic scenery of the American West. There's not much else I can say by way of introduction, so I give you Mr. Toepfer's own words: 
"For the last two years I have been taking still photographs for a personal project entitled 'It's Better In The Wind,' all the while collecting video footage from each ride as we traveled around the Western United States together.
I have been slowly editing the footage into a visual scrapbook of sorts for those who partook, and those who followed us via the web. No preaching the triumphs and failures of the motorcycle industry, no divisive commentary between manufacturers and styles...just a collection of imagery that will hopefully inspire more people to take to the road and discover what there is outside of our respective communities.
Chuck Ragan was kind enough to collaborate with me to write an original soundtrack for the film, to give me some anthemic tunes to edit with, and I can't thank him enough for the kind gesture towards a fellow traveler.
Please, enjoy the film, everybody who took part in it is family, we are all grateful for your support these past two years while we tried to build a concept around the positive nature of motorcycling.
Cameras Used:
-Canon 5dMkII
-Minolta Super 8mm
Edited With:
-Final Cut Express
Film Processed by:
-Pro 8mm in Burbank, CA
Music Written, Recorded, and Produced by:
-Chuck Ragan (
Cover Art by:
-Leilani Derr ("

Toepfer's personal website is worth a look as well, for more of his photography and film work: