To celebrate the Tour de France coming to London on 7 July 2014, Londoner Joff Summerfield (46) is undertaking a unique and gruelling challenge as he prepares to ride the Spring Classics road bike races on his very own Penny-farthing!
Summerfield rose to prominence in 2006 when he became the second person in history to circumnavigate the globe on a Penny-farthing, following fellow Brit Thomas Stevens who set off on his own incredible journey in 1884. The London-based athlete spent two and a half years travelling through 23 countries on four different continents riding a Penny-farthing that he built himself – but even that does not prepare him for the bone-shaking cobbles, steep hills and daring sprints that lie ahead.
For his latest challenge, Summerfield and his high wheel bicycle will attempt to ride the punishing short stage Sportives at some of the most famous one-day cycling road races in the world including the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Leige-Bastogne-Leige – all in celebration of the Tour de France Stage 3, which will see the world’s cycling elite take to the iconic streets of London this July.
Joff Summerfield says, “The famous cobbled roads and the steep hill climbs of these European Spring Classics are going to test me and my Penny-farthing to the limit. I am really looking forward to taking on these very challenging routes and meeting some of the pro riders along the way. The Tour de France coming to London is going to be an incredible celebration of cycling. I’m proud to be doing my bit to inspire and invite people to come to the capital this summer to see the world’s cycling elite take to the city’s iconic streets, and perhaps go even further and take on the same route as the pros with RideLondon.”
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, says, “Joff is a supreme athlete and we are delighted that he has taken on this exceptional challenge in celebration of London’s hosting of the Tour de France this summer. The Penny-farthing is the perfect metaphor for the Anglo/French rivalry we will witness in the Tour De France - even now no one can decide which nation invented the bike!’
‘It’s absolutely fantastic to welcome back Tour de France to London. The capital is fast becoming a beacon of cycling following the extraordinary triumphs of the 2012 Olympics and of course the inaugural RideLondon last year. What could be better than watching top class pro cyclists as they compete in the world’s most famous road race, with our incredible London landmarks providing the breath-taking backdrop?”
Photo Credit: Elliot Brown under Creative Comms