Blazin' Saddles

Man tackles Europe’s toughest races… on a penny farthing

Blazin' Saddles

Joff Summerfield has travelled much of the world, which, in itself, in this brave era of relatively cheap travel is nothing too out of the ordinary.

However, the means with which he has voyaged around the world is of some surprise, though – for Joff made a 22,000-mile solo trip in 2008 on a homemade penny farthing and took in 23 countries and four continents.

And now, to celebrate the fact that the Grand Depart of the Tour de France is coming to England, Summerfield has embarked on another gruelling challenge on his much-loved Victorian bicycle.

Having ridden the Paris-Roubaix in France and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in Belgium, Summerfield took on the Giro d'Italia Big Start in Belfast and will also ride Germany's Velothon Berlin.

Prior to his challenge, he said: “My saddle is four-and-a-half feet off the ground and if you crash you tend to go forwards over the handlebars.

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

The top teams will complete Friday's opening stage time trial in roughly 25 minutes but Summerfield’s time of one hour and 19 minutes was extremely respectable having hit a top speed of roughly 38km/hr.

“The time trial route takes in some beautiful and iconic sights – from Stormont to the City Halls and the Titanic Quarter,” said Summerfield after finishing.

“It was a privilege to ride the time trial and get a taste of what the pro riders will face on Friday. I hope the excitement of the event also inspires people to come to the Tour de France Stage Three in my home city of London on 7 July!”

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