RESIDENTS in Stawell, Halls Gap and St Arnaud might see an unusual group of cyclists riding through the towns this week.
Ten riders on penny farthings are cycling about 1000 kilometres through western Victoria across nine days for the annual Australian Penny Farthing Tour.
The tour has from around Australia and is taking place from October 12 until October 21.
The annual event was conceived and organized by former Horsham man Dan Bolwell, who is also the man behind bespoke 'Penny Farthing Dan' bicycles.
Mr Bolwell makes the bicycles full time and is extremely passionate about their history and their place in the modern world of cars and road bikes.
The tour kicked off in Wallan and proceeded north-west to St Arnaud, before heading to the Grampians via Stawell.
Mr Bolwell said the whole tour was an "adventure" for a community of passionate people, and was designed so riders get an opportunity to use the penny farthing in the setting that it was originally designed for.
"It's just using the bikes for what they're made for," he said.
"It's just sharing the sheer enjoyment of penny farthings, and also connecting really beautiful people - the whole community is just an amazing community.
"Wall flowers tend to be interested, and there are a lot of really discerning and interesting people among the community and they're all out to have a really nice time. It's like a family to me."
Tuesday afternoon the tour stopped for lunch in Dunkeld, and Mr Bolwell said it was a region some in the group had not had the pleasure of seeing before.
"We have a couple from Brisbane and one from Parkes in New South Wales," he said.
The tour will soon turn towards the coast and finally finish in St Kilda.
The terrain for the ride is considered mostly flat with sections of undulating hills, and where possible secondary roads will be taken.
Mr Bolwell said the penny farthing is a bike that was made to go fast.
"The penny farthing was the original hoons machine; they were ridden by noblemen and heirs of grand estates looking for speed and excitement. They were the Ferrari of their day" he said.
"And most importantly, the penny farthing was the first bicycle that was capable of being ridden comfortably for 160 kms in a day, and of reaching speeds as high as 50 kilometres an hour, so it was unrivaled in its time."
The penny farthing, or highwheel, design dates back to the 1870s and although these bicycles had their heyday for only about 20 years, it took many more years before another bicycle could go faster.
Mr Bolwell has been riding, racing and building penny farthings for over 15 years.
The tour route:
- Day 1 Sat: 96.5 kms Wallan to Castlemaine (Via Kyneton)
- Day 2 Sun: 116 kms Castlemaine to StArnaud
- Day 3 Mon: 105kms St Arnaud to Halls Gap
- Day 4 Tue: 96kms Halls Gap to Hamilton
- Day 5 Wed: 105 kms Hamilton to Portland
- Day 6 Thur: 102 kms Portland to Warrnambool
- Day 7 Fri: 105 kms Warrnambool to Colac
- Day 8 Sat: 103 kms Colac to Queenscliff
- Day 9 Sun: 105 kms Queenscliffe to St Kilda
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