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Taking On The Hour Record – On A Penny Farthing?!

Taking On The Hour Record – On A Penny Farthing?!


– [Announcer] The World Hour
Record is one of the most enduring in the sport of bicycling. It is currently held by William A. Rowe, who pedaled a remarkable 22.09 miles on a beautiful Summer’s evening in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1886. In the last 132 years,
several people have tried and ultimately failed to
best that mark, but now (records scratches) sorry, now in 2018 someone is going for it again. Oh, did I mention it
it’s on a penny-farthing? (rock music) (rock music) (rock music) (rock music) (rock music) Ah yes, the penny-farthing, also known as the upright and, slightly bizarrely perhaps, the ordinary. Although to be fair to it,
this was supremely popular in it’s hay day of the late 19th century. It is of course, characterized
by that giant front wheel and that tiny little trailing back wheel. The rider sits over the
top of the front wheel, and the pedals are connected
directly to the front axle, so it’s effectively a fixed wheel. The handlebars also are connected directly
to that front wheel, so yes, you will find that your pedals change direction the same
time as the front wheel. Now, in terms of riding this thing quickly you are limited by the
size of your front wheel, so taller riders could theoretically, therefore go a little bit faster. And although there is no gearing as such, I’m told, that by changing
the length of your cranks you’re effectively change the gearing in relation to your legs. Hopefully, therefore that can mean you can eke out little bit more speed. These are more recent modifications, some aerodynamic handlebars and of course this, a Garmin. Which as you can see is on
a nice custom mount, there. Which is perhaps in keeping
with the 19th century. So this is the rider
stepping up to the challenge. A man you might not recognize if it wasn’t for the new mustache. It’s Mark Beaumont of course. A rider that we followed on incredible round the world record
breaking ride last summer. From 78 days though, to one hour. I’m not gonna lie mate, I don’t blame you for going to something just a
little bit shorter this time but why Penny-farthings? – Yeah, I don’t really
have that itch to scratch, (Interviewer laughs) when it comes to distance anymore, I mean the world was 1200
hours time traveling. – Yeah. – This is an hour. How hard can it be? If anyone watched me riding into Paris, and you where there. – Yeah. – There was two blokes on penny-farthings that made the trip out, and shortly afterwards to be honest, they stole the show in the finishing line. I mean, how couldn’t you on these things? And they got in touch and said, would be interested to go for one of the oldest record that stands? Not just in cycling, but full stop. You know, set back in the 1880s, and I love the eccentricity of that. I love the madness of it, so yeah, I thought why the hell not. – Yeah, fair enough. So have you been training
specifically for this now then? – Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you’ve got to. I mean, what’s the point
in being able to ride sixteen hours when
you’re training for one? – Yeah.
– It’s all about threshold, it’s all about absolute topping and I’ve quite enjoyed that. You know it’s just a completely
different discipline. – Yeah. – And so it’s supported record, insofar as there’s eight
of us on the track, flying start they’re my domestiques, hopefully, you know, they’ll protect me. You can time travel on a
penny-farthing, believe it or not, you can, you know, slipstream, but I can do with any help that I can get. – Okay. – You know, I’ve ridden with you a lot, I know you’re strong, you’re up for it? – Join the record itself? – Yeah, yeah. – I would absolutely love to, mate. Yeah, thanks mate. – Let’s see your form. – Alright, yeah, no, I’ll get hitted up. Thanks.
– Perfect (lively guitar music) (lively guitar music) (lively guitar music) – Right, so I’ve found
someone to actually teach me how to ride a penny-farthing and this is Neil, who’s the founder of the Penny Farthing Club. I’m terrified, if I’m completely honest. What’s, what are we gonna do? – Okay, so in a minute we
gonna get you off on the bike. We’re gonna do it two phases, we’re gonna get you riding first and then the tricky
part of mounting, riding and then dismounting on your own, to qualify for honorary membership of the Penny Farthing Club. – Okay, alright, well there’s a target. – Push, push, push, hop, hop, hop. Up, toe, seat, join the pedals. (lively guitar music) – Oh that looks easy. – Yep. Then you can wave to the crowd. – No problem. (quirky music) Oh. – A bit more. (quirky music) A bit tentative. – Oh. Okay, right. – On the seat before you run out of puff. – That’s right yeah, it’s
easier than it looks. – Okay, full beans, full chap. – Did we do risk assessment, John? – Three, two, one, push, push, push. Come on, let’s get it going. That’s it, join the pedals. – Oh yes! Oh my God. (Neil claps) Oh, wow. (Neil claps) – Well done. – I’m genuinely quite pleased. (quirky music) So how fast do we gotta go
to get 22 miles and hour? – So you’re doing about
two miles an hour there, you got to do another– – Another twenty.
– Another twenty. Well that would be alright. So now I’ve gotta stop, right? – No don’t stop. – But I want to be part of the club. – Yes, so you have to
dismount, you don’t stop. – Oh, I see what you mean. – At walking pace,
reach back for that peg. – Okay. – With your right foot. [inaudible 05:14] We’ll do one more lap. Now straight line, a bit faster. – Okay. – Right foot, reach it back. Left foot and off, there you go. You’re in the club. – Yes, I’m in the club. Thank you very much, cheers. (Neil claps) – You’ve done it. – Who would have thought
you get an adrenaline rush from riding a penny-farthing? It’s an extreme sport, isn’t it? – Yep. – Right, okay, so 22 mile an hour now. – 23 miles an hour. – 23. – For racing and tomorrow’s
penny-farthing polo. – Okay, alright, yeah, one step at a time. 23 mile an hour first. Let’s go for it. We need to get suited up. It’s a little known fact,
actually, here at GCN that one of the presenter mottos is always be prepared. But I will be honest, when I set out this morning I did not expect to need
my Asos speed fast skinsuit and Kask Mistral helmet, but what a lucky coincidence that they’re in my kit bag nevertheless. It’s all about saving watts. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) I think I’m ready. So is there going to be some kind of rider briefing now, Mark? Have we got like a team warm up to do, or some kind of? – Yeah, yeah that is the plan. – Okay. – And it’s important that, there’s a wider team. And I mean, you look fantastic, you look strong on a bike but we were thinking, you know we also need somebody for the lap board. I don’t know if that’s a
skill you’ve got as well. You know, it’s just,
– Uh, yeah. – just spreading the talent, really. – Yeah, no I can do lap boards. – Fantastic, fantastic. – I’ll, I’d probably go get
changed, if that’s alright. – Yeah, yeah, fantastic. – Okay, alright. – Thank you. Good to have you onboard. – No, thanks Mark. Yeah, you too. Aside from the fact that Mark
is riding a penny-farthing, this is an Hour Record with a difference. A conventional one, currently
held by Bradley Wiggins, is a solo effort. One rider on the track,
riding as fast as they can until the time is up. However, as Mark alluded to, this record allows him
to have a team of riders with whom to share the pace. The plan is to have a core group of three staying with him for as long as possible, in a kind of big wheel team pursuit, sharing the pace equally
with our record contender. The remaining riders will
stay at the top of the track and contribute to the pace setting as and when they’re able to. Communication, you’d
think, is going to be key. Right there behind me you can see Mark on the start line and his teammates, his
pacers, lining up behind him. They’re ready to go. The temperature here at track side is absolutely scorching. Now I have a feeling that actually we’re about to witness one of the most dramatic
parts of the entire event as they try and get on their bikes wearing normal road cycling shoes so this could be make or
break moment for the guys. But actually the clock doesn’t start from as soon as they leave. They’ve got four laps to get up to speed. So, it’s going to be a rolling start before the clock starts counting. (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) And they’re off. 78 laps to go, one hour. (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) Right, we are deep into
the record attempt now and Mark is 18 second
adrift of world record pace. Actually, I found someone
that he’d probably really want to talk to. This is a legend of the
Hour Record, Gareme Obree. Gareme, you’ve got quite
a unique perspective on this given that you
did two Hour Records within a 24 hour period, and the first one you
missed the World Record and then the second one
you did, you nailed it. So how will Mark be feeling, you think, knowing that he’s 18 seconds off and he’s got 20 minutes to go? – It’s a horrible feeling
being off the pace with the expectation of a World Record and with a crowd and everybody behind you so at this point I would
be thinking to myself you have to risk going at a pace that you might not sustain for 20 minutes, because there’s nothing else to lose. – Yeah. – But there’s also the pacers involved, so there’s a communication to say we need to risk everything, even if it means physically
we completely bomb. What’s important here
is that I’m also guilty of maybe underestimating the
quality of the original record. – Yeah. – Um, because the Victorians, you know they did this all the time. It was such, it was the
football of the day for them. – You still look like
you’re in great shape. Are you slightly tempted
by something like this? It’s a bit unorthodox maybe, but you know, another World Record? – Well, I have ridden
penny-farthing 25 years ago and actually, ironically two weeks before breaking the World Record
I rode a cotillion, that’s the reason, in the
streets of Market Harbor on a high bike and peeled off
an amazing victory of the day. – Did you? Nice work. So you’ve dabbled before but presumably you could put an aerodynamic
spin on this as well. – Well these guys have struggled for it and they’ve trained
specifically for this, right? And I’m thinking “Hold on,
let’s not underestimate this”. – I think you hit the
nail on the head by saying that this record is an awful lot harder then maybe it looked initially. (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) Right then, we have got seven
minutes 26 seconds remaining and as I’m talking now
Mark is 25 seconds back on World Record pace. He’s clearly well into the pain cave now. I should imagine it’s
completely different to anything experienced on his round the world. Go Mark! But it’s a sterling
effort because the wind has really got up here. So the temperature’s high,
it’s now getting super windy and as you can see, his
pacers are all over the place. They’re really, really feeling it as well. So maybe the World Record is looking a little
bit like a big ask now. It would be now pulling back two seconds a minute or something but, on the flip side the British Record is still up for grabs and he is two minutes and one second up. (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) (crowd cheering) (lively music) (lively music) (lively music) (bell ringing) (bell ringing) (bell ringing) (lively music) (lively music) – [Crowd] Seven…six…five… Four…three…two…one. (gun shot) (applause) (lively music) (lively music) – Well done Mark! Great effort mate, great effort. (clapping) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) (sad music) – I’m absolutely cooked,
absolutely cooked. I’ve never done a ride where
just everything feels… my arms are shot, my legs are shot. I mean the last 20 minutes, 25 minutes, I was just, I can’t ever remember being in a hurt locker like that. When you do ultra endurance you’re always protecting yourself
so you don’t overcook it. That was all about just living out there. I was nuts. With the right team and
on a completely still day with no wind, you could get the World. But hey, we got the British Record. – Is that you saying you’re
going to do it again? – Give me a day, I think I’ll
come back to you on that. That was type two fun. That was ridiculous. – Yeah, what kind of
intensity do you ride in at? Was that you at threshold
on a penny-farthing? – Do you know what? I think I’ve done tougher
hours on the walt bike, I’ve done tougher hours on the road bike but there’s so much more going on there. You don’t feel particularly efficient. Like you’re bumping all over the place, your arms are shot, it’s just trying to
keep smooth on the bike. When I finished, I thought
I was going to crash. I mean that last lap I was seeing stars. I was absolutely- I’m used to riding ultra
endurance for the last 20 years. I guess I’ve just never- I’ve taken myself to
that place in training, you know when you’re sick
off the bike and stuff but for an hour, and on
that ridiculous contraption, there’s so much more going on. But you know what was amazing? The crowds. I mean like banging. Like, I’m used to being out in the Gobi Desert, the Sahara Desert. I had them bashing on the railings, I had the team yelling at me. I’ve nearly lost my voice
from shouting orders. That’s like unlike
anything I’ve ever done. Hey, a cool bit of history there. – Yeah, well fair play mate. You actually looked like you genuinely have enjoyed yourself as
well, despite the effort. So again, huge congratulations
from all of us at GCN. Great effort mate. – Thank you. – Right, we’re going to leave the World Cycling Revival now, having witnessed a quite
incredible new British Record for the World Hour on the penny-farthing. Now, it was also a quite incredible feat of mental fortitude. I’ve never actually witnessed anyone climbing off a bike
after an Hour Record before, but it’s quite frightening to witness. Mark was in pretty shape there, but you could see he’s
bounced back nice and fast. Anyway, the rest of the
racing is about to carry on, so this is our cue to leave as a derny cruises past. That’s probably what he needed. Anyway, if you want to
see Mark’s previous feat of physical and mental endurance, his around the world in 78 days, why not click on that
video just down there now.

100 comments on “Taking On The Hour Record – On A Penny Farthing?!

  1. I will not accept this as a beat of the record as every single component on these bikes is completely modern with no specifications

  2. You forgot to refer to the front wheel as the penny and the back wheel as the farthing! They don't call it a "penny farthing" for no reason!

  3. who else was like what the fuck is penny farting racing…. the reread it and still had no fucking clue

  4. 1890's record on 1890's technology…. everyone inexplicably dresses and dances 1930's style.
    Equivalent to people from the future thinking they're imitating the 1960's and qearing Nikes and basketball gear from 2010

  5. My PB in penny farting is 1372 farts in an hour, 1426 if we're counting the ones that missed the penny. That's about 0.38 farts/second. Pretty good if you ask me

  6. I didn't know that in 1880's the penny farthing bike had a disk rear wheel!If one is going to break the record one has to have the same bike. No modern enhancements allowed. That includes clothes.

  7. As a kid I learned to ride an original 1880 Columbia, all period iron steel and heavier than hell. And the first rides were on an authentic 19th Century road surface… a cow path! Only the one step in back though, and it took a while before I realized I could just step back on it to dismount instead of taking the rather tall side exit… made life a lot easier on the legs! It was a lot of fun riding around town from up high. Though seeing what modern penny farthings are like, I would like to see a full carbon one made — a 21st Century version of the classic ride with a fraction of the weight of an original.

  8. You’d think they would be able to smash the record with the new bikes compared to the bikes in the 1800s heavy as fuck and shitty heavy components. It shows how good they were on those crappy bikes.

  9. I have wondered how you mount and dismount one of these, now I know, would be very tricky to do well I would think but I'd love a go.

  10. This is terrific. Those bikes look like doing a rotational face-plant would be easy to do. And what a crash that would be.

  11. Type 2 fun. Fantastic. Well done. Very easy to underestimate the victorians, those guys were utterly insane and no shame at all in being a few seconds off.

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