Old-fashioned, high wheel bikes race through historic Frederick

Antique and replica high wheel bicycles will race through the streets of historic downtown Frederick, Md., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, bringing history to life in front of cheering crowds.

Frederick high wheel race by Good Travel Design

Racers and their high wheel bicycles, also known as penny farthings, will line up at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Bar on N. Market Street for a 4:30 p.m. race start, the only one of its kind in the U.S.

"It is truly a unique event and is fun for both racers and spectators alike," said race co-founder Jeanne Rhodes. "If you have ever seen one of these individuals on the penny farthing in person, you will understand and appreciate their skill."

But there's a lot to enjoy before cyclists mount their tall bikes for the race, which is held in conjunction with the annual Tour de Frederick bicycling events that weekend.

Friday, Aug. 14

6-6:30 p.m. - Meet the Racers, Carroll Creek Promenade
Meet and mingle with the race participants, many of whom travel from across America to participate. Learn about their bikes and enjoy mounting/dismounting and trick riding demonstrations. The Carroll Creek Promenade is near the Delaplaine Center.

(Find out more about the 2015 racers.)

Saturday, Aug. 15

3:30-5:30 p.m. – Antique Bicycle Display, Frederick City Hall
See antique bikes from 19th century provided by members of The Wheelmen, a national nonprofit group dedicating to keeping alive the heritage of American cycling.

4 p.m. – Children's Race starting at Brewer's Alley Restaurant
Cheer on members of the Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County as they race down Market Street on high wheel bicycles.

Frederick high wheel race line by Good Travel Design4:20 p.m. – Penny Stack and Opening Entertainment
Enjoy performances by the Frederick Catoctones and Duly Noted Quartette before the Penny Stack, a self-supporting lineup of the high wheel bicycles.

4:30-5:30 p.m. High Wheel Race
Racers are introduced, then race around a course in downtown Frederick for an hour. Racer with the most laps wins!
Racecourse streets close at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and reopen at 6:30 p.m. Here's a map of the route.

The Frederick Clustered Spires High Wheels Race was started by Frederick residents Eric and Jean Rhodes in 2012. Eric saw penny farthing bicycles in an Independence Day parade in Washington, D.C., Jeanne said, and he was determined to try it. Eric and a few friends traveled to the United Kingdom in 2010 to race in the Great Knutsford Race, which occurs once every 10 years. When he returned, he was inspired to bring this type of event to the U.S, according to Jeanne. And so the Frederick Clustered Spires High Wheel Race was started.

Coupled with the antique bike display, "the event is truly a celebration of the history of the bicycle," Jeanne said.

Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Bar, where the races start, is located at 124 N. Market St., Frederick. It is Frederick County's original brewpub where they still make a variety of beers. See what's currently on tap and check out their menu specials on the way in if you need a little refreshment. If you like to sample, you can pick eight 5-ounce pours or purchase 5-ounce glasses singly, as well as the larger sizes, of course.

Find out more about the race and related events at the Frederick Clustered Spires High Wheel Race website.

Photos by Good Travel Design.

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