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British man touring the world on high wheel bicycle

By Jennifer Vandermeer, Norwich Gazette/IngersollTimes

Joff Summerfield was quite a sight on Beachville Road Wednesday morning, June 25. The resident of London, England was on day four of his tour of the world atop his high wheel, or penny-farthing, bicycle. This is his second tour.

Joff Summerfield was quite a sight on Beachville Road Wednesday morning, June 25. The resident of London, England was on day four of his tour of the world atop his high wheel, or penny-farthing, bicycle. This is his second tour.

INGERSOLL - 

Drivers in Oxford County were doing double-takes Wednesday morning when they passed by Joff Summerfield atop his high wheel, or penny-farthing bicycle.

Summerfield, wearing cycling gear and a British-style helmet, was making his way through the area on day four of his second cycling tour of the world. At a stop on Beachville Road near Ingersoll, Summerfield said he had started on the weekend in Toronto, where he and the high wheel arrived by air from his home in London, England. After spending time with relatives in the city, he set out on his journey.

He describes his high wheel cycling as being “a little call” to the road and his website www.calloftheroad.co.uk details his passion for the bicycle and for seeing the world from his perch on the high seat.

“I'm still like 'Wow, I'm back on the road again,'” he said.

This is Summerfield's second tour of the world. From May 2006 to November 2008, he saw the eastern part of the world, travelling 22,000 miles (35,406 kilometers) across 23 countries.

Aside from being robbed in Prague and an attempted robbery in Istanbul, Summerfield's trip was a good one.

“People always want to know what I'm doing,” he said.

And he's more than happy to stop and chat, to meet people from all over the world, but said often times there are no people, or no English language, so he has to be comfortable being alone.

“You realize 99.9% of the people in the world are lovely.”

This time he's heading west. He'll cross into the US where his only scheduled stop is at a high wheel event in Wisconsin where he is the guest speaker. He said then he'll “turn left at the Rockies and head south,” toward South America and perhaps to Mongolia before returning home to England.

All of Summerfield's earthly possessions are strapped to the bike, which he calls “The Wheel.” He has a tent, camp stove, and a special cycling GPS system that shows him the best cycling routes around the world.

He doesn't do any special training for his round-the-world tours and doesn't collect any sponsors for the ride, but works hard and saves his money. When he's at the height of his trip, he'll be cycling about 70 kilometers per day.

Summerfield builds penny farthings at his workshop in London. He comes from a motor racing family and before building bicycles, he built race engines, including five years building Formula One racing engines. You can follow him on Twitter at @joffsummerfield or on Facebook.


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