The Annual Clustered Spires High Wheel Race

Posted in: Festivals and Events

high wheel race -PPhoto Credit Jim Hamann.jpg

photo courtesy of Jim Hamann

The Frederick Clustered Spires Race is held every August in Downtown Frederick. This unique event celebrates the history and love of bicycles in Frederick, Md. Although high wheel races were common in the 19th Century, there are only four races of this kind that now occur around the world, and Frederick's high wheel race is the only one in America.

A high wheel bicycle, also known as a penny farthing, is a type of bicycle with a small rear wheel and a large front wheel pivoting on a simple tubular frame with tires of rubber. The seat is nine feet off the ground, there is only one gear, and there are no brakes. A high wheel bicycle can reach a speed of about 10 miles per hour. The first one was invented in 1871 by British engineer James Starley.

Every August, the Frederick Clustered Spires Race is held in conjunction with the Tour de Frederick. Prior to the race, there's an antique bicycle display at City Hall and a children's race on Market Street. The main event -- the high wheel race --  features riders dressed in vintage clothing. The race is a one-hour multi-lap race along a 0.4 mile route through historical downtown Frederick, Md.

Click here for more information about the Frederick Clustered Spires High Wheel Race.