These magnificent men on their riding machines
IT might be called “the original hoons machine” but there’s no doubting the ability of the penny farthing to turn heads – and that was the case when a group of riders descended on the region this week.
The 10 participants were taking part in the annual Australian Penny Farthing Tour, this year a nine-day ride around Victoria that began and will end in Melbourne.
It’s the brainchild of penny farthing builder and former Western Victoria farmer Dan Bolwell, who built all the bikes on the tour under his ‘Penny Farthing Dan’ brand.
Each year he takes a group of riders on a tour of about 1000km somewhere in Australia, with this year’s trip including Portland being especially significant.
One of the riders is local Peter Radcliffe, a familiar sight on Portland streets where he has been riding a Bolwell-built bike for the past three years.
The group of riders this year are mostly from Melbourne but also include a Queenslander and New South Welshman, who are all getting a unique view of the state atop the Victorian-era bikes.
They ride about 100km each day, taking back roads where they can and to enjoy the scenery and give the whole ride a sense of adventure, and arrived in Portland after starting out from Hamilton.
Many are dressed for the part too, with at least one sporting a magnificent handlebar moustache.
The riders aren’t doing it for charity – Mr Bolwell said the riders all give generously privately anyway – but they are sharing something else.
“What we are doing riding is spreading a lot of happiness,” Mr Bolwell said.
“And happiness is free.”
For Mr Bolwell, who has been riding, racing and building penny farthings for the past 15 years, the lure is simple.
“The penny farthing was the original hoons machines,” he said.