Penny-farthing Santa to cruise Lake Burley Griffin

penny farthing santa
Setting off from at Old Parliament House at 9am tomorrow, Saturday 12 December, Santa will cruise Lake Burley Griffin on a penny-farthing with a handful of helpers in tow. Photo supplied.

Tomorrow morning, Santa’s sled and reindeers will be taking a rest as he cruises around Lake Burley Griffin on a penny-farthing bicycle with a handful of helpers in tow.

Setting off from at Old Parliament House at 9am, Mark Skimmings of the newly formed six-person Canberra penny-farthing rider group, told Canberra Weekly he’ll be kitting up in his red suit.

“Santa Claus is going to join us on the ride,” he said. “I have done before, I’ve got the suit, the beard, and a hat that sings Christmas songs.

“I rode around Murrumbateman in a Santa suit and best thing about it is no one knows who you are.”

While the other penny-farthing riders joining Santa won’t be dressed as elves, Mr Skimmings said the ride was organised for “a bit of fun” and to spread some Christmas cheer.

“It’s an eye-catching thing for sure, people stop you wanting to take photos and ask questions,” he said.

“You don’t ride a penny-farthing to not talk to anyone … They love to get photos and the bikes themselves are a work of art.”

Having ridden road bikes for over 20 years, Mr Skimmings took up penny-farthing riding two and a half years ago.

He was first inspired when he happened across the National Championships at Evandale, Tasmania in 2015.

“I’m the sort of guy who likes a challenge, so when I saw these crazy guys racing around this 400m track on penny-farthings I tapped my wife on the shoulder and said ‘guess what? I’m going to get one’,” he said.

“I’ve since then been down and competed in two of the championships.”

With plenty of experience atop the towering two-wheeler under his belt, Mr Skimmings has grown to love everything about it.

“They are a nice bike to ride, certainly a challenge,” he said.

“They’re totally different to another road bike, much higher, have a fixed wheel, solid rubber, no brakes, and you dare not make a mistake or you’ll fall off it and go straight over the handlebars.

“I haven’t fallen off yet, but I certainly know people who have.

“They’re not for everyone, but they’re so different everyone admires them when they see one.”

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