08 January 2012

A Friday night lecture on world travels (on a penny farthing!)

Friday 6:30 pm, somewhere in Farringdon. Lucy and I cycled from work searching for a place called "The Gallery". It was not well signed, but eventually found a bunch of fancy touring and antique bikes (including the very first Moultons) all parked in a narrow alley. It seemed obvious that we had arrived at the right venue. We were attending a talk by Joff, a guy that had cycled round the world on a penny farthing.

Waiting for the talk to begin
The lecture was organised as a fundraising event by Sustrans. Upon arrival we found around 80 people awaiting Joff's talk. Most of them you could tell were cyclists, and it was very pleasant not to feel weird in our bright yellow jackets. Bromptoms were lining up near the walls. Helmets were everywhere. Wine and food were provided for £1 donations, so that was a good start.

This was the first time that we had seen a world traveller in the flesh. We follow loads of round the world travellers on the net, and we've even read some of the books, but seeing one live was a novelty. With Joff was his home-made penny farthing.

The bike, appropriately named "Penny"
I had to have a closer look at the machine. To me, it seemed simple. No chains, no gears. Just a massive wheel with plenty of spokes (which turned out to be regular spokes, but joined together to form a single one), and solid tyres. Also, he fitted a front light to the big wheel's front hub. Not sure how it worked while in motion, but it seemed loose on the hub so as to prevent it from turning. He also managed to carry all his stuff in just two small panniers! We definitely have to travel light on our Camino de Santiago!

The talk itself was inspiring and funny at times. Yet it could have done with a better organisation, especially regarding the pictures. Too much talking and not coordinated pictures. Also, we felt that it lacked a bit of the planning and the "post-journey" emotions when he returned home. We laughed at the first question from the audience: "which fuel did you use!?" Clearly the audience was looking for more practical advice!

All in all, an enjoyable way of spending an evening. And an even better way to find some extra motivation for riding in 2012! It's only January, but the season has officially started for us!

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