The Penny Farthing Trials: video report included
The event was arranged by the organisers of the Knutsford Great Race, a three-hour endurance race for penny farthings held every ten years in Knutsford with the next one taking place in September 2010.
Such was the appeal of the event that as well as entrants from Middlewich, St Helens and Knutsford itself, one intrepid participant, 38 year-old Philip Thompson had cycled (on a conventional bike) 72 miles from Draycott in Derbyshire to take part. “I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of the penny farthing,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to have a go on one, so when I saw this event advertised, I just had to come along.”
The event was heralded as a great success by chairman of the organising committee, Glynn Stockdale. “All the participants were great enthusiasts and quickly got to grips with the challenge of riding these antique machines,” said Glynn. “We wanted to let anyone who was interested – male, female, young and not-so-young – have the opportunity of trying a penny farthing to show what a fantastic experience it can be.”
Entrants, who ranged in age from 11 to over 70, were introduced to the skills needed to mount and manoeuvre these antique machines. Colin Hurrell of Knutsford commented on his experience. “After being sized up for a bike (the wheels on these machines have a 5 foot diameter) and letting all the younger men and one lady go before me my turn came and I was taken through the procedure to get on and off the bike. This is the really tricky bit: there is a sprocket on the frame that you have to put your foot on to mount the bike as you push off, take a leap in the air and hopefully land on the saddle, also holding onto the handle bars! Once you are on and going the confidence begins to increase and the elevated ride is quite intoxicating, but turning round will have to wait for another lesson!”
Nearly all the participants are hoping to take part in the Knutsford Great Race and many will be attending the next ‘So you want to learn to ride a penny farthing event’ planned for later in the autumn. For further information contact race secretary Stephen West on 01565 755219 or email email@example.com.