Evandale’s Century riders to go back to 1880s in February

More than 100 years ago, cyclists would gather on a yearly basis to embark on a 100-mile ride through the Northern Midlands countryside. 

In 2016, the ride continues in a vastly different world, however the mode of transport remains the same. 

The Century Ride, on February 17, brings penny-farthing riders from across the state to cycle the 162-kilometre course. 

Starting at Evandale, the race will take riders through Nile, Cressy and then back to Evandale via Poatina Road. 

Evandale Village Fair Association secretary Di Sullivan said about half-a-dozen riders would compete in the event this year.

“It’s not exactly easy to ride a penny-farthing 100 miles,” she said.

“We’ve had about five or six confirmations, but someone always turns up at the last minute to have a go.”

The ride is part of the Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships – a staple of the Northern Midlands calendar, according to Ms Sullivan. 

The national championships will host 10 penny-farthing races and numerous displays on February 24.

The carnival began in the 1980s as a way to make the town stand out to potential visitors from Tasmania and abroad. 

“Evandale is not on the way to everywhere [for tourists] and we have businesses that rely on the tourism trade,” she said. 

“We wanted to get the Evandale name out there, so we started the national championships here in 1983.”

CHAMPIONSHIPS: The 2017 Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships. Picture: Paul Scambler

CHAMPIONSHIPS: The 2017 Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships. Picture: Paul Scambler

Ms Sullivan said that Evandale’s penny-farthing festivities are one-of-a-kind. 

“It’s a unique event, and it’s something they can’t see anywhere else – no one else does it quite like Evandale,” she said.

“There’s no where else you can come and see [penny-farthings] raced all day, so we attract a lot of visitors.”

Northern Midlands mayor David Downie emphasised the importance of the event for the municipality. 

“Evandale is one of the better presented towns in Tasmania to visit and we’re very proud of it, and the penny-farthing races in particular,” he said.

For more information on the festival, visit evandalevillagefair.com.