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By Virgil Vaupel
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Just Passing Through

My Most Memorable Bicyclists Of 2014


Virgil Vaupel / The Courier

Just where will worldly cyclist Joff Summerfield of London be cycling down the road? "That depends on which countries are fighting with whom by the time I have to decide," he said during the Hinsdale leg of his life's journey.

For those of us who pay attention, there is a lot of bicycle traffic along the Hi-Line and this past summer has been no exception. Most folks travel west to east because of the prevailing winds, but there are those who haven't been warned about wind and chase the sun.

There are many forms of bicycle and tricycle transportation. There are bicycles built for two. Bicycles with side cars. Tricycles with trailers. Traditional bicycles and recumbent bicycles/tricycles.

Riders I have talked with range in age from 12 to 75 years of age. Some are tall, some are not so tall. None are overweight! How could one be when pedaling 3, 379 miles in just 59 days as Jay Singer and his daughter Molly did this summer from Anacortes, Wash., to Cleveland, Ohio.

Jay is a 62 year young high school music teacher from Cleveland who has been teaching children how to play music for 40 years.

Molly is 24 and a second year medical student. I would think maybe she's going into psychiatry to try and figure out why people subject themselves to bicycle rides such as this one.

Jay is known to friends as "Bent Jay" because he rides a recumbent tricycle and he keeps a daily journal of all his tours at

Singer has made several tours around the five Great Lakes mostly alone, but Molly has accompanied him on some of his rides. Jay said "My wife doesn't really see what this is all about but she is very supportive."

I met them in Hinsdale and had the opportunity to photograph and interview two very memorable people.

My other choice for MMP (Most Memorable Person) is a 42-year-old Londoner named Joff Summerfield, who rides a Penny Farthing he built himself. He manufactures and sells these oddities to help finance his world tours.

A Penny Farthing is the United State's equivalent of a "High-Wheeler." The front wheel is about 50 inches tall and the back wheel is maybe 12 to 14 inches high. Quite an eye-catching contraption indeed as can be attested to by the hundreds of folks along U.S. Highway 2 who encounter Joff riding high and wearing his old style English military helmet.

He was planning to visit Glacier Park, then on to Yosemite in California. From there his tour takes him through Mexico, Central America, across the Panama Canal and into South America. Bloody ambitious indeed, old chap.

I asked him "what then?" He answered, matter of factly "Tierra del Fuego of course." That's about as far south as a person on a Penny Farthing can go, for those of you who were educated in Buck Snort, Tenn.

From there Summerfield is still not sure which way to go. He said, "That depends on which countries are fighting with whom by the time I have to decide."

This is his second around the world tour. (He's bloody "crackers" I'd say.) His first trip took him two and a half years to travel a little over 23,000 miles. This time he figures to cut his trip down to about 22,000 miles.

If you would like to track his moves you can do so by logging on to

When I asked him "why?" he answered "because of the great people I meet along the way and the beautiful scenery I see in my travels.

It was at the Raiders Quick Stop in Hinsdale that I had the pleasure of photographing and interviewing another of my Most Memorable People.

That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.


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