To modern eyes, a penny farthing bicycle is anything but "ordinary". But these eye-catching cycles were indeed called "ordinaries" in the late 19th Century, in contrast to the new-fangled safety bicycles, and in Victorian Oamaru the club devoted to these and other vintage cycles is known as The Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club.
Oamaru is a charming town in New Zealand's South Island, with a wealth of surviving Victorian buildings, so it's highly appropriate that penny farthings find a home here. Each November Oamaru holds a Victorian Heritage festival, which I've been fortunate to attend in the last two years. Here are a few of the penny farthings taking part in the festival's street parade:
The Cycle Club Captain, David Wilson, has just completed an extraordinary journey: he has cycled the length of New Zealand on a replica 1882 penny farthing made in Oamaru. He started the ride last November, and three months later has reached the top of the North Island. This is not an easy country to cycle in, with all our hills, and with our ample wind and rain. The journey would be challenging enough on a modern cycle, but to complete it on one that has no gears, no chain and no brakes is quite a staggering achievement.To add to the challenge, as well as the authenticity, David wore tailor-made Victorian-style clothing for the 2,000 kilometre ride.
Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club.
The send-off in November.
In one of the many towns visited along the way.
Congratulations, David, on a tremendous achievement.