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Joff Summerfield, who has ridden his high-wheeler round the world, heads to Flanders, Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège

A Londoner who circumnavigated the world on a penny-farthing he built himself is embarking on a new challenge – to ride the routes of some of cycling’s most challenging one-day races in the coming weeks, including the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

In 2008, Joff Summerfield became the first man since Thomas Stevens in 1887 to ride around the world one of the bikes, also known as a “high-wheeler” or an “ordinary.” Setting off from Greenwich, his journey took him to places such as the base camp of Mount Everest, the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon.

Now he’s turned his attention to the Spring Classics, where he intends to ride 60 miles of the route of those three Monuments before heading to Belfast to tackle the Giro d’Italia time trial route and finally Germany for the Garmin Velothon Berlin.

The one-time Formula 1 engineer who now makes penny-farthings for a living, told the Daily Mail: “The Spring Classics are races and I will be riding as fast as I can against the clock.

“It feels unsafe like being on a cliff edge all the time but you get used to it.

“My saddle is four-and-a-half feet off the ground and if you crash you tend to go forwards over the handlebars, so I am looking forward to the challenge of so many cobbles.

“Much of the time it will be down traditional farm tracks that are a real test of the athleticism of the professionals and so there is not much smooth tarmac.

“I will be a bit sore when I get off the bike but I am sure I will still be smiling,” he added.

You can find out everything about his round-the-world trip here.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

11 comments

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DavidC [159 posts] 3 years ago
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Everyone needs a hobby — but maybe not this hobby. Best of luck.

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kitsunegari [343 posts] 3 years ago
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My testicles hurt at the mere thought of this.

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RobD [550 posts] 3 years ago
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There's just no helping some people...

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md6 [181 posts] 3 years ago
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just why? i really don't understand the point.

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Angelfishsolo [134 posts] 3 years ago
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Much kudos to him. Great proof it is about the rider and not the bike!  41

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felixcat [486 posts] 3 years ago
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I understand that a wheel that size is rather more effective at absorbing shocks, so perhaps he is not as daft as you might think.

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guidob [56 posts] 3 years ago
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further proof that in the modern world if you can think it, someone will go and do it...

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Simmo72 [673 posts] 3 years ago
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falling from that height on to cobbles, goodbye hips, hello a&e

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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Weren't penny farthings pretty much invented to ride on cobbles?

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banjokat [20 posts] 3 years ago
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md6 wrote:

just why? i really don't understand the point.

Why not? 'Cos it's there! Good luck to him I say.

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Colin Peyresourde [1828 posts] 1 year ago
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He bottled the Arenberg. Either that or he was pulled off it for everyone's safety. Didn't see him after that. Hope he made back in one piece.