Riding an Ordinary or High Wheel Bicycle is one of life's great pleasures ! The rider sits 5 feet above the road peddaling a giant wheel. Once you are up and rolling the sensation is like flying.
The Ordinary always prompts a familar respose.
"How do you get on that thing ?"
This is usually the first question folks ask when they encounter someone riding an Ordinary Bicycle. A small mounting step above the rear wheel enables the rider to step up and hop aboard. To dismount, you slow the front wheel with back pressure on the pedals, gently apply the brake, and reverse the process reaching back for the step with your left foot.
The large front wheel of the Ordinary is the driving gear and the pedals are in continuous rotation as the wheel moves. The Ordinary does not freewheel like a modern bicycle which presents a challenge when descending hills. One technique is riding legs over the handle bar while applying the brake to the front wheel.
Riding Legs Over
One must exercise caution. If the hill is too steep it is easy to loose control of the pedals. You can wind up with a run away machine.
The Run Away
When riding the Ordinary be aware of the ever present danger of taking a header . A sudden obstruction to the front wheel can send the rider flying over the handle bar with disastrous results !
The following link is to a video of a contemporary Wheelmen descending a steep hill upon his Ordinary, riding "legs over". Unfortunately the pedals act as counter weights and as the bike gains speed the front wheel begins to oscillate and warble.The front tire comes off with a dramatic result.
It is no wonder that the bikes we ride today are called safety bicycles.