From Bristol to Exmouth... on a penny farthing

06:55 17 April 2014

Alistair Cope riding his penny farthing on Exmouth seafront. This Easter Alistair is riding the machine from Bristol to Exmouth to raise money for local brain injury charity Devon Headway. Photo: John Bailey.

Alistair Cope riding his penny farthing on Exmouth seafront. This Easter Alistair is riding the machine from Bristol to Exmouth to raise money for local brain injury charity Devon Headway. Photo: John Bailey.

(C)John Bailey 2013

HAVING cycled and canoed from Edinburgh to Exmouth for charity, Alistair Cope is on his penny farthing this Easter, raising money for local charity Headway Devon.

Starting in Bristol on Good Friday, the founder of Exmouth’s Vintage Velo event is pedalling to Bridgwater, then Tiverton and then on to Exeter’s Double Locks for lunch before arriving at Exmouth’s Manor Gardens at around 4pm for afternoon tea on Easter Sunday.

There’s just one problem. Alistair has no brakes.

“With penny farthings you can get up hills, but it’s getting down again that’s a bit scary,” he said. “You can’t slow them easily. You can put pressure on the pedals so you can try and go down slowly, holding the pedals back with your leg muscles, but you reach a point where the back wheel starts to lift off the ground. That’s when it gets a bit terrifying and you think, ‘OK if I don’t let go, I’m going to go over the handlebars!’.

“So I will probably have to walk down some of the hills. You’ve got to judge it very carefully.”

Alistair hopes to be joined by others on penny farthings.

“We’ve got some people who want to ride them, and we’ve got some penny farthings, but we can’t match the two together. The trouble is we can’t adjust the penny farthing. It’s got to be your size.

“I’m particularly hoping on the last stage on the Sunday that we’ll have a good number of people – maybe as many as five penny farthings – coming down from Exeter.”

Alistair’s epic ride will raise money for Headway Devon, a local brain injury charity. “That’s because my sister died last year from a long-term head injury”.

To donate to Alistair’s charity ride, go to:


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