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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.