Review: Brooks Penny Farthing Race at the Nocturne Series

Penny-farthings are real head-turners. The Brooks Penny Farthing Race was the highlight of the Nocturne Series 2013.

The first place winner is Richard Thoday from Thoday. At second place is James Crew from Thoday, and at third place is Joff Summerfield from Summerfield Racer.

See the full results of the race here.

Riders at the starting line. Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Riders at the starting line. Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE

The race was a spectacle, and the crowd really loved it. Penny-farthing is an eccentric Victorian invention and a reminder of the thrilling steampunk days of the Industrial Revolution.

Mounting a penny-farthing is an art in itself. At the starting line, the riders climbed gracefully from the smaller back wheels and slid onto the seats, which were much higher at around 5 feet from the ground.

He made it look easy. Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
He makes it look easy. Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE

They made it look easy, but we are sure it took a few tumbles to get it right. Some of the riders were fitted with GoPro cams. Many used clipless pedals.

The DJ played Get Lucky by Daft Punk when the penny-farthings rolled out, much to the delight of the crowd. We were not so keen on the Victorian songs accompanying the race, because it was eccentric but certainly not old-fashioned.

Here's how to do it again. Did you get that? Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Here’s how to do it again. Do you get that? Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE

The best part was when the riders started attacking. Wheelsucker found it amusing, she couldn’t stop laughing. I went to the corner to see how the riders managed the hairpin turn.

Penny-farthings do not tilt as severely as ordinary bikes while navigating corners because of the massive size. However it certainly takes a higher skill to manoeuvre.

Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE

Several years ago I tried a friend’s penny-farthing. Naturally, I didn’t last long. The problem was I was too short and the penny farthing was too tall.

When the sense of panic finally left me, I could balance myself and rode 10 metres ahead. Until I had to stop, which was tricky. Penny-farthing doesn’t have a brake. So you have to learn to slow down. Or grab mindlessly at nearby objects to stop falling, like I did.

Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE

A penny farthing can set you back at £1,500. It is an elegant machine, and adds plenty of character into your commute.

For more photos of the Brooks Penny Farthing Race, check out GLUE’s Facebook gallery.

GLUE RATING:

★★★★

Pretty symmetry. Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Pretty symmetry. Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
KatJungnickel was the only lady rider we spotted. Is there another? Respect. Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Kat Jungnickel was the only lady rider we spotted. Is there another? Respect. Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Hop on. Looks easy, eh? Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Hop on. Looks easy, eh? Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
Photo © Zarina Holmes / GLUE
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2 comments

  1. Thank you for your kind words. Hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did the racing. Regards Ed “red socks” no.21. Ps. What a great crowd……

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