UDC Penny Farthing breaks 133 year old world record

On the 10 October 2019, Global Cycling Network (GCN) set-up a world record attempt to try and break the one hour world record for Penny Farthings. The previous World Record was set by WA Rowe in 1886, 133 years ago! The attempt used slightly modified UDC Penny Farthings.

 The world record breaking team

The world record attempt adhered to the rules of the origional world record attempt.  GCN took great care to make sure that record was a fair challenge by following the rules set up in the 1890's.

Old image (new riders!)
Image courtesy of PlaySports Network

Setting the new Penny Farthing World Hour Record has taken some preparation. In June 2018 Mark Beaumont set a new British record at the World Cycling Revival Festival, also at Herne Hill. The hour challenge may have been shorter than the Around-the-World exploits Beaumont is most famous for, but it proved just as tough and he fell 290 yards – just over a lap – short of Rowe’s. This record attempt used 7 amateur pace riders to assist Mark.  This was a great learning exercise and made Mark realise that the record was possible but needed better riders.

A year later, Beaumont and GCN presenters Opie and Lowsley-Williams joined forces to set the inaugural World Indoor Penny Farthing Hour Record at Derby Velodrome in September 2019. The three riders each made individual attempts, and it was Opie who went fastest, setting the record by riding a distance of 34.547km (21 miles and 821 yards). Perfect preparation for the ‘outdoor’ ride.

Image courtesy of PlaySports Network

For the record-breaking ride at Herne Hill – a shallow concrete bowl measuring approximately 450m with the steepest banking 18° – the penny farthings were provided by Neil Laughton, Secretary of the Penny Farthing Club, who has also supported the previous attempts. A British Cycling official ran all the hour timings and calculations to adjudicate the ride.

Image courtesy of PlaySports Network

The successful attempt was a team effort with all the three riders working together to achieve record pace. Opie was first across the line, breaking Rowe’s previous record by 200m. This equates to the team riding with a power difference of + 3.9w, and finishing 20 seconds faster.

If you want to hear more about the world record attempt checkout the GCN show.  Subscribe here.  There will also be one hour documentary about the whole attempt in the new year.



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