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Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Thursday, 27 May 2010 09:42 UK
Penny farthing riding course starts in Leicester

Roger Lovell introduces BBC reporter Kylie Pentelow to the penny farthing

A Leicester cycling historian is to launch a penny farthing riding course, after being inundated with requests.

Roger Lovell from Cyclemagic is the UK's only professional penny farthing rider, and now wants to pass his expertise onto other enthusiasts.

Invented in 1871, the penny farthing is an icon of the Victorian age.

People attending the course will be shown how to mount and ride the bike, plus learn about the history of its development and past famous racers.

Roger said, "Leicester is a very important place for development of bicycle racing, some of the great racers were from Leicester, so I'm going to teach them the history, why the bicycle developed and how Leicester is so important."

Finding your bike legs

The cycling expert claims it is possible to pick up the basic mounting and riding techniques in two to three hours.

Leicester's Bert Harris was the most celebrated cyclist in Victorian England

After that, it is simply a case of patience; "You can learn, but you do need a lot of confidence and quite a lot of practice to learn and to be able to do it successfully.

"I ride mine almost every day, I've been doing that for 10 years."

Roger admitted that cycling champion Chris Hoy took tumble when he had a spin on the penny farthing, but pointed out it was largely to do with press photographers getting in the way.

Those enrolled on the course will start out on a half size machine, to pick up the unique skills a little closer to the ground, and will also be given the chance to try out a 1870s 'boneshaker' and tricycle.

Roger is expected good interest in his new training scheme based on him witnessing the fascination the penny farthing inspires in all that cross it.

"It's just up there alongside the red telephone box, and the taxi and the London bus. It's an icon of England."

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