In for a penny!

Penny farthing race in Hall Leys Park, Matlock.
Penny farthing race in Hall Leys Park, Matlock.

Wheelie good fun took place in Matlock as cyclists rolled back the years with penny farthing racing.

After months of planning and hard work the spectacle took place in the middle of the town on Sunday as part of Hall Leys Park’s ongoing centenary celebrations.

Penny farthing racing in Hall Leys Park, Matlock

Penny farthing racing in Hall Leys Park, Matlock

Crowds flocked to the Pennies in the Park event which was organised by local rider Richard Thoday.

Thoday, a one-time bronze medallist in the British 24-hour time trial championship and a stalwart of Matlock Cycling Club took up penny farthing racing himself last year.

After 100 years of a ‘no cycling’ policy in the park he negotiated the right to cycle for one day only.

He said: “It was very successful and a really good day.

Penny farthing racing in Hall Leys Park, Matlock

Penny farthing racing in Hall Leys Park, Matlock

“Someone said they had never seen the park that busy.”

He added: “I went to a penny farthing race in Knutsford that only happens every ten years and it gave me the inspiration for this event.

“I was at the park for the Victorian Christmas Market and thought it is such a good venue and penny farthing racing would fit in well with the 100 year celebrations.”

There were many activities being held on the day, which attracted huge crowds as people watched some spectacular racing and events.

Penny farthing racing in Hall Leys Park, Matlock

Penny farthing racing in Hall Leys Park, Matlock

The day started with timed laps for the Penny Farthing rider’s, who had travelled from all over the country to take part in what was truly a spectacle to be hold.

Watching riders ride 100 + year old bicycles was fascinating in itself, but to then watch them race – with many riders dressed in clothing of the era – was a real crowd pleaser. Live commentary of the races was broadcasted to the spectators making for a real buzz of excitement.

The timed laps would determine the grid positions for the main event that was to be held in the afternoon, with the fastest rider being on pole position.

In what was a fiercely competitive affair, round the world rider Joff Summerfield recorded the fastest lap, with Dave Preece in second place, with Jim Brailsford coming third.

Before the main event could take place, the course was to hold yet another ‘alternative’ form of cycling, with the Unicycle Race.

The riders had a mass start and were to complete 25 minute race on the tricky circuit. There were riders of all ages with many young children taking part.

Tom Hartland won the event after an awesome display of power and control as the Unicycle remained smooth underneath him with speeds of nearly 20mph being hit. Second place went to Julian Dobb after a fierce battle with pre-race favourite Roger Davies who made up the final podium position.

After the Unicycle Race had taken place, there were a number of Youth Go Ride Races, which were promoted, and run by British Cycling. By this time, hundred’s of people had descended on the park to soak up what was a really great atmosphere as families enjoyed the good weather.

The Penny Farthing Race started at 2pm, and was a real battle right from the start.

Dave Preece powered away from pole position to keep his lead in to the first corner, followed closely by Jim Brailsford and Richard Thoday. The three broke clear quite early on from the rest of the group and were to exchange places as the laps went on.

A real cheer from the crowd went up as Richard Thoday took the lead after the third lap as he looked really strong and determined to win his local race.

The front three riders stuck together for the entire duration of the event and with one lap to go, the bell was sounded. The three started to jostle for position and on the back straight, Jim Brailsford made a huge attack, which Dave Preece and Richard Thoday could not react too. A small gap was gained leading in to the final corner, which was too much to be made up as Brailsford punched the air as he crossed the finishing line to take the win. Dave Preece narrowly edged out Richard Thoday in to third spot.

Jim was one of the riders sponsored for the day by MTH tool hire of Chesterfield, whilst the team prize for the fastest team went to Richard Thoday, Dave Preece and Joff Summerfield all riding for the team sponsored by Cut Above nail and hair design.

Whilst the racing was going on, there were many other cycling related activities taking part including Unicycle Hockey, Roller Racing, and a bicycle smoothie maker.

The event raised a huge amount of money for the Aquabox Charity.

It was sponsored by local Indian restaurant Maazi who provided sample food for the spectators as well as rides in their Tuk Tuk, which lead out the Penny Farthing Race for the first lap before the rolling start.

Other sponsors were Hire Station who provided the barriers, Ashfield Training Solutions who created the web site, Wirksworth Rotary helped with fund raising and Matlock Cycling Club promoted the event and handled the administrative side of the day. Mark Ludlow of was the event photographer and pictures from the day are available to view on his web site.

PENNY FARTHING RESULTS: 1 Jim Brailsford, 2 Dave Preece, 3 Richard Thoday, 4 Joff Summerfield, 5 Katrina Jungnickle, 6 Phil Saunders, 7 Edwin Knight, 8 Jim Crew, 9 Graeme Waters, 10 Karl Webster, 11 Barry Denny, 12 Les New, 13 John Derbyshire, 14 Bruce Dalton

UNICYCLE RESULTS: 1 Tom Hartland, 2 Julian Dobb, 3 Roger Davies, 4 Julian Page, 5 Ben Glynn, 6 Robert Day, 7 Paul Young, 8 Gary Halford, 9 Gabriel Rogers, 10 William Summers, 11 Owen Summers, 12 James Summers, 13 Ben Summers, 14 Glen Woodhead, 15 James Howell-Jones, 16 Andy Parry, 17 James Prince, 18 Joe Marshall, 19 William Gascoyne