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.

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