Early bicycles — a.k.a. high wheelers, penny farthings, or ordinaries — had the crankarms attached directly to the front hub. Riders wanted more speed, so front wheels grew as tall as 60 inches. Brakes weren’t part of the mix, as locking the front wheel meant a launch over the bars, and the rear wheel didn’t carry enough weight to have any effect. Advanced riders controlled speed by slipping backward off the saddle, placing one foot on the mounting peg, and dragging the other on the rear wheel. Although ungainly to store, the big wheels ride smoothly and span deep potholes without falling in. And the altitude: the high perch places riders above all the action, except an occasional spiderweb.
• The Frederick Clustered Spires High Wheel Race: www.cshighwheelrace.blogspot.com.
• The Veteran-Cycle Club: www.v-cc.org.uk
• The Wheelmen: www.thewheelmen.org
• 1in6, an organization for abuse survivors and a beneficiary of the race: www.1in6.org