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There's a knack to riding high-wheelers - but when things go wrong, they go spectacularly wrong...

If you've been to the Rapha Nocturne in London over the past decade, you may well have caught the penny-farthing race and it really is a sight to behold as the riders whizz around at impressive speeds on the bikes, also known as high wheelers or ordinaries.

You'll have noticed too, that it's a long way down from the saddle to the ground, and when things go wrong, there's a big risk of the rider suffering what in penny-farthing circles is termed a "header" - that's pretty much a "faceplant" to the rest of us.

We thought about this today when we spotted this tweet from Antoine Vayer, showing a nasty looking crash during a penny farthing race.

It turns out that penny-farthing crashes are a bit of a genre on YouTube. Hopefully the riders involved emerged relatively unscathed - although the first one here, filmed on board at a special edition of the London Nocturne at the London Bike Show in January 2013, left Joff Summerfield with a broken elbow despite the fact he was wearing elbow pads.

And after all those crashes, here's one of a penny-farthing rider bombing (well, in relative terms) around the BMX park in Stockwell, South London.

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.