The team riders Neil Musson of Milverton and John Dodgin of Lancaster had their work cut out in order to complete the 3hour endurance race, having first to learn to master one of worlds most well known (if rarely seen) bikes. The race also threw up a number of challenges – during just the second lap a solo rider crashed into John and another rider with John doing a ‘header’ over the handlebars and crashing to the ground.
Not to be deterred John gallantly picked himself up again and carried on racing. The team were up against nearly 50 other teams and solo riders (a total of nearly 90 participants) many of whom were wearing modern cycling gear and riding modern Penny Farthings whilst Team Spend a Penny rode an authentic penny farthing built in 1882 and sported genuine Victorian attire including ‘plus fours’ shirt, waistcoats, cravat and specially nurtured ‘handlebar moustaches’.
“The age of the bike was a real concern for us” admitted Neil Musson. “It had spent the last 40 years a museum piece. Throughout the last months we’ve had to do quite a lot of restoration and repair and so during the race we had to carefully balance speed with respect for the bike. We had to do a couple of pit stops during the 3 hour race to tighten spokes and adjust the head stock when the steering started to seize, but we were very fortunate neither John nor the bike sustained any lasting damage following the accident preventing us from victory”.
The duo also admitted that the competition was “more serious than expected”. John Dodgin continued: “We didn’t really know what to expect – I’ve cycled competitively and we have both got extensive cycling experience, but riding a Penny Farthing perched above a 52inch wheel is something different altogether. Learning to ride the bike was a challenge in itself, particularly as I had to relocate halfway through training to Lancaster – over 200 miles away from the bike and Neil! With the race happening just once every 10 years we’d never been before and didn’t have a clue what to expect and so just had to go with the flow. We took it in turns to do 30minute stints and are thrilled to have won the team trophy!”
The team were raising funds for disaster relief charity ShelterBox and to date have exceeded their target and raised over £2,500 with more donations flowing in. With each box, which provides shelter and life’s essentials for a family of 10 over 50 victims of natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and the current floods in Pakistan, will benefit from the teams efforts.
In total Team Spend a Penny completed 95 laps of the course which is approximately 1km in length with sharp narrow turns around the moor in Knutsford, Cheshire. To prepare the team tackled the gruelling hills of Exmoor National Park and the streets of Somerset and Lancaster, and the training clearly paid off.
“We’d like to thank everyone that has supported us so far – just 12 months ago to own, be able to ride and compete on a Penny Farthing was a dream” the Team concluded. “Now, not only have we mastered the bike and competed on it, we’ve also won a coveted trophy, raised thousands for charity and had a great adventure! This wouldn’t have been possible without all the people that have sponsored us, helped us restore the bike through provision of specialist advice and parts and those that have helped raise awareness – we’re now beginning to think about our next adventure!”
Further details, photos, blogs and videos regarding the team can be found at www.teamspendapenny.co.ukand anyone still wishing to sponsor them in aid of ShelterBox can link straight from the site to a JustGving page which sends funds direct to the charity. You can also find the team on Facebook and You Tube.
Originally the Knutsford Times was established as a citizen powered title designed to support the community and local business. It has grown from just a few articles per month since its inception in 2008 to hosting nearly a thousand articles that are read all over the world.