Charity cycle causes a few heads to turn
Following the official Hebridean Way as much as possible, Tom with his two companions, Woody and Simon, who were on standard cycles, covered the 300 kilometres, starting in Vatersay and finishing up at the Butt of Lewis lighthouse.
Tom is certainly no stranger to adventure or the unusual. A mountaineer, he has climbed Everest and many of the world’s toughest climbing challenges; has cycled from John O’ Groats to Land’s End unassisted, and covered the entire length of the South Downs Way, over 100 miles, on a unicycle.
When not undertaking the toughest of challenges, Tom runs a building company specialising in residential properties in London.
The Hebridean penny farthing challenge was undertaken to raise money for the Stroke Association and at the time of going to press had easily surpassed their £10,000 target.
"People were stopping us on the route asking, what on earth is this,” said Tom. “I don’t think they had seen such a thing before so were giving us donations along the way.
"I have to say it was very humbling. The islands are just so beautiful – words can’t really convey it. There seems to be so much space; the people are kind, friendly, warm. There’s a big sense of community here. That’s rare, but it’s very good for the soul and I’ve loved it.”
Tom explained how cycling on a penny farthing, which were popular in the late 19th century before being overtaken by more convenient forms of cycle, presents a very different challenge.
“It can’t free wheel, so your legs have to be constantly moving, and to make matters worse, there is no brake – instead, you have to use back pressure on the legs to slow down,” he said.
“As far as I know, no-one has ever completed this mission on a Penny Farthing. Some brave soul might have done back in 1880 but we do not know for sure.”