Londoner to take on Spring Classics routes - on a penny-farthing

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

by Simon_MacMichael   April 3, 2014  

Paris-Roubaix: Arenberg cobbles © Simon MacMichael.jpg

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.

10 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Everyone needs a hobby — but maybe not this hobby. Best of luck.

Have a nice day.

DavidC's picture

posted by DavidC [118 posts]
3rd April 2014 - 15:10


My testicles hurt at the mere thought of this.

posted by kitsunegari [28 posts]
3rd April 2014 - 16:05


There's just no helping some people...

Ride what makes you happy

posted by RobD [248 posts]
3rd April 2014 - 16:14


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

posted by md6 [176 posts]
3rd April 2014 - 16:20


Much kudos to him. Great proof it is about the rider and not the bike! Applause

Angelfishsolo's picture

posted by Angelfishsolo [127 posts]
3rd April 2014 - 17:17


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.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [424 posts]
3rd April 2014 - 18:47


further proof that in the modern world if you can think it, someone will go and do it...

posted by guidob [57 posts]
4th April 2014 - 9:02


falling from that height on to cobbles, goodbye hips, hello a&e

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [523 posts]
4th April 2014 - 13:26


Weren't penny farthings pretty much invented to ride on cobbles?

posted by farrell [1908 posts]
4th April 2014 - 13:34


md6 wrote:
just why? i really don't understand the point.

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

posted by banjokat [20 posts]
4th April 2014 - 14:16