Ride Bikes

Penny Farthing Criterium - QLD


Race a Penny Farthing 4 weeks after having a baby? Why not!!

Baby Z is 4 weeks old and the annual ‘Pennys by the sea’ event is on in Brisbane. The past few years we have attended the Penny Stack at Sandgate. This year there is a new event; the ‘criterium race’ at the Nundah crit track, which is designed for road racing (yep the ones with the skinny tyres).

Because we have a 4 week old newborn, plus a 2 year old and 4 year old, we didn’t want to commit to the 5pm Penny Stack. Anyone with kids knows this is the meltdown time, witching hour and it has potential for absolute chaos. It would have been too late, and all the kids would, no doubt, be feral.
A few days before the event I decided I needed to familiarise myself with the Penny. It’s not my bike, it is my mums husbands. He has a few and lends it to us. So for the ‘trial’, my mum looked after the 3 kids, while I went out on the bike path behind her house. It was hot. I was enjoying my 10 mins of kid free time and I was taking it easy. Perhaps a little too easy… Rather than dismount the bike and turn around at the end of the bike path, I decided I would ride out onto the road to turn around and get back on the bike path. I rode down the little ramp off the bike path, and turned onto the road. I misjudged the line of the small back wheel, which dropped off the gutter. This propelled me forward, and I went over the bars, flipping the bike with a crash onto the bitumen road. It was one of those super slow motion crashes where you know its going to end bad, but there is nothing you can do. I grazed my elbow and knee and landed hard on my wrist which I have previously broken. I felt pretty dumb crashing the bike only 4 weeks after having a baby.

Anyway, back to the bike race.

Due to logistics involving multiple kids, cars and a rather large Penny Farthing, we had to take two cars to the event. So with military organisation and very little sleep, we fed hungry mouths and bundled up kids, hats, food, shoes, helmets, kids, food, sunblock etc etc, coffee.... and we were off. I was exhausted, and this was a before we even got to the race…

I managed to squeeze into my Sol-Breads-Cyclinic race jersey. Sweet!

At the race, it was hot and humid again and I was still a bit shaken from my crash. I decided to just take it easy and have fun. There was about 12 people racing, and a large audience of lycra clad road riders who were racing their own events at the crit track. I stayed at the back off the start line as I didn’t want to get caught up in anyone else’s misfortune. The leaders were off so fast there was no way I could catch them. The Penny is a fixed wheel (i.e., it doesn’t have brakes). I started to get some speed up and released I couldn’t keep up the cadence and risked my feet coming off the pedals. I saw some other people taking their feet off and ‘coasting’. Since the only way to stop the Penny is to slow down your pedalling with your feet; there was no way I was taking my feet off! I need more practice.
Photo: Me on the Penny with my lovely husband and two of the kids in the background cheering me on.

I came through the finish line in last place. But I had fun and I didn’t crash. I love the uniqueness of riding a Penny.

The event was held by the Queensland Penny Farthing and Historical Cycle Club.

Photo: The start line. I’m at the back right; behind the really tall man.

Here is a short clip of the start of the race, at the Nundah Crit Track:


And here is a clip of the winner finishing (I’m out of view).


Photo: From the back

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