Penny Farthing Race Celebrates Obsolete Bike (Video)


Image credit: The Knutsford Great Race

From the fancy electric YikeBike (also described as a barstool on wheels), to bamboo bikes, Treehugger is used to covering the stranger end of cycle transportation. (Let's not even talk about the 24-carat gold-plated folding bike!) Yet we tend to focus on the future of the bike, not the past. Nevertheless, it's important to honor the heritage of our favorite low-impact mode of transport. And that's where The Great Knutsford Race—a gathering of "penny farthings, hobby horses and bone shakers"—comes in. Held in a town just South of Manchester, England, The Great Knutsford Race happens just once every ten years, and features original and replica Dandy Horse Machines, Bone-Shakers and Penny Farthing Cycles dating from the middle of the 19th Century. It seems popular too. Held last Sunday, the event attracted more than 5000 spectators, as well as competitors from all around the world.

The 1km track circles Knutsford Moor, and competitors are tasked with completing as many laps as possible within a 3 hour time limit. This year's event was won by reigning champion Jim Brailsford, who covered 107 laps in the 3 hour time limit—which, if my calculations are correct, would mean he was traveling at an average speed of 35.6km (22 miles) an hour! It's not exactly a speed to rival the Tour De France, but then these machines aren't exactly cutting edge racers either. No word yet on whether the event featured podium girls (or boys).

knutsford penny farthing race photo

Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty images/The Guardian

For those wanting to see more, the image above is part of The Guardian's awesome slideshow of the Knutsford Great Race. And the video shows some of the competitors in action - looks terrifying to me!

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