high wheel race, frederick, cycling

By ABBY THEODROS | atheodros@whag.com

Published 08/16 2014 08:29PM

Updated 08/16 2014 09:00PM

FREDERICK, Md. - It's a gigantic competition, but not in the way you would expect. Thousands gathered in downtown Frederick on Saturday to cheer on cyclists competing in a race on bikes twice their size. 

"[It's] the only one in the U.S. and one of seven in the whole world," said Erick Rhodes, director of the clustered spires high wheel race. 

The historic bikes date back to the 1870s when they were used as transportation. Fast forward to 2014, and they are being used by bike enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the heritage of American cycling. 

"These bikes were invented in the 1870s [and] were very popular in the 1880s, but they didn't last long because they weren't safe," Rhodes said. 

For high wheel enthusiasts, some of the most common questions they get about their not so common hobby is how they get off their bikes. A fair question considering most of them do not have breaks. 

"Step on the peg on the back, and you kick with the other leg, and you step up on it and make sure it's moving, and you catch the pedals and you get off the same way," said Chris Rhoten, a cycling competitor. 

For 9-year-old Haken Rhoten, who came from Westminster, Maryland, racing alongside high wheel veterans did not hold him back. 

"I feel kind of excited racing with all the adults it's kind of exciting," Rhoten said. 

In Saturday's race, 25 men and 5 women raced around a two block loop in the downtown area. The winners, were determined by the most laps completed in the span of one hour. 

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