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.
“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’.”
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.
"What was the poor chap thinking?"
Callers express sympathy for @theJeremyVine after he fell over the handlebars of his penny-farthing this weekend.
— Jeremy Vine On 5 (@JeremyVineOn5) February 16, 2022
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 road.cc 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.