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“I’ve been in the wars”: Jeremy Vine suffers nasty penny-farthing crash

The broadcaster was taken to hospital and left with a black eye after falling from his high wheeler at the weekend

Broadcaster Jeremy Vine has been riding a penny-farthing around London for a few years now, so should appreciate that there’s a knack to mastering that most stately of cycling past times.

However, the pedalling presenter must also be well aware by now of the potential for things to go very wrong when sitting atop one of those impressive, eight-foot-high relics of the late Victorian period, also known as high wheelers or ordinaries.

During the weekend, while taking his high wheeler for a spin in a west London park, things did go wrong for Vine as he suffered what penny-farthing enthusiasts call a “header” – that’s a faceplant to you and me – which resulted in a black eye and a trip to the hospital for the Radio 2 host.

> Londoner to take on Spring Classics routes - on a penny-farthing 

“I’ve been in the wars a little bit, as my mum would always say,” Vine told his Channel 5 show, which was being presented by Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije as he recovered at home.

“Look at the black eye there, and I broke my glasses because I came off my penny-farthing.

“The thing is, when you’re on it you’re eight foot up, and I basically was on grass, no one around. I didn’t see the divot, front wheel went into it, over the handlebars, I landed on my head, and a crowd gathered.”

The broadcaster was taken to Charing Cross Hospital, where tests were carried out on his brain, spine and heart before he was given the all-clear.

“When I went to A&E,” he continued, “they said ‘you’re fine but you’re lucky’. They said ‘we’ve never written this [‘was riding a penny-farthing’] on the form before’.”

> Videos: Penny-farthing crashes compilation ... it's a long way down 

Unfortunately for Vine, he says that his family have now banned him from riding the penny-farthing on his own following the accident. On the plus side, his fright at the weekend prompted a segment on his own Channel 5 show about whether he should give up cycling. Very meta.

The fall at the weekend wasn’t the Radio 2 presenter’s first wobble on his Victorian machine. In March 2021, he almost came a cropper after his 360 camera nearly got tangled in the penny-farthing’s spokes as he rode along a London cycle lane. 

While no video has emerged of Vine’s nasty spill at the weekend, it appears that you can while away a few hours watching footage of cyclists whizzing around on ordinaries on YouTube. And of course, there are a few crashes thrown in too, for good measure. 

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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Crippledbiker | 146 posts | 1 year ago

You see, if you're sensible and have three wheels, you don't need to worry about this sort of thing, nor any of that silly business of "trackstanding" or "falling over at a stop".

None of that "Gyroscopic Effect", more like "Gyro-stopping-without-falling-over".


Yeah, ok, I'll stop (without falling over!).

Ride On | 222 posts | 1 year ago

So Jeremy Vine was off-roading on a penny farthing!?


Next stop Bike Park Wales.

Philh68 | 573 posts | 1 year ago

Crashing on an ordinary is like falling off a horse. You're high enough to know exactly where you're going to land, and how much it's going to hurt, and there's enough time to realise that yet not enough to do a damn thing to stop it 😁

chrisonatrike | 6799 posts | 1 year ago
1 like

I'm sure a race around some of London's finer "cycling facilites" between him and Jacob Rees-Mogg would be supported by all sides of the whole commentariat.

Of course they could join an existing race.

For those concerned about safety the use of an American Star could be mandated.  They were a more successful "workaround" (for those who weren't into all the other kinds of interesting "cycle" of the time) but only arrived around the time of the "safety".

andystow | 1179 posts | 1 year ago

I still want one.

SimoninSpalding replied to andystow | 593 posts | 1 year ago
1 like

Me too at some point. I am thinking that when a high wheeler becomes the next target for n+1 I will have completed my collection. 

brooksby | 12197 posts | 1 year ago

One of the tabloids claimed that Mr Vine is only one of two people who ride a "penny farthing" in London.  That can't be right, surely?

swldxer replied to brooksby | 279 posts | 1 year ago

I'm sure many PF riders used to do London - Brighton on them.

Adam Sutton replied to swldxer | 488 posts | 1 year ago

Yup, one finished ahead of me in 2019. I'm just going to pretend he set off way way earlier than I did!

Rendel Harris replied to brooksby | 5436 posts | 1 year ago

There are more than two I see regularly (not including JV, whom I've seen occasionally) and there's even a company that does sightseeing tours on them, so no, it's not.

hawkinspeter | 12162 posts | 1 year ago

There's a reason that safety bicycles got that name

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