Peter Matthews – a Cyclist with Few Equals

There are few bicycling resumes more impressive than the one Peter Matthews has lived for the last 78 years. At the Dublin, Ireland home he has completely renovated over the last 5 decades to also include space for his vast collection of bikes and parts, much of which dates back to the late 1800’s, I took at a look at just some of the cycle treasure  he has managed to accumulate over the last half century.   If the story of a few of his machines, even parts from a few of some, was where this quick report were to end, the life Peter has led in acquiring or building them would be impressive enough. What Peter stands for however is far more than the tale of a builder or collector of things pedalable.


A warm and loving man, Peter’s humbleness makes it hard to know his many, many accomplishments as a bicyclist. Here is what I learned from the Internet and was able to get from him:

– In 2004, at age 70 with Gary Sanderson (also 70), he rode his 50 inch Coventry HiWheel bicycle from the east coast to the west coast across America. And the two of them did so in 60 days per this link. The fact their bikes, like all HiWheel, are like giant fixed gears, they pedaled the whole way!!
– One of the bikes hanging from his rafters, built around a full size mattress, by many years predates the stuff seen at the Kinetic Sculpture Races that are growing in popularity all over America.


– He is the international HiWheel trick riding champion with a repertoire of 20 to 30 or more different daredevil maneuvers.

Peter still does tricks.  See them at the end of the recent interview in the video below:

– He built a whole fleet of unicycles and can still ride the one that is 6 feet tall (extendable to 7 feet). In fact, he has ridden the tall one in Dublin’s annual St Patrick’s Day parade for almost two decades. He even taught his now 52 year old son how to ride one wheel and the two of them pedal events together.

Here he is talking about some of his bikes
– He has performed as well as raced his HiWheel bike in countries in both hemispheres all over the world.
I also have to tip my cap to Peter Matthews because he still sacrifices his well being for his love of the bicycle. Having suffered brain damage while trick riding, he still tempts fate from the high saddle – at 78 years old!!! And on May 4, Peter will be leading the first annual Tour of Dublin!!


Perhaps the only three men  living who come close to Peter in terms of a bike centric list of accomplishments are all a part of our upcoming National Bicycle Greenway Mayors’ Ride. One is another fellow named Peter, Peter Wagner <link>,  the man who will be giving a Rideable Art demonstration at our Davis NBG Day. Here he is on film. While the Davis Peter has built hundreds of amazing bikes from discarded scrap and is a strong cyclist, who also can ride a unicycle (he even made a HiWheel out of one), he has not performed the ultimate cycling feat. Yet. He has has not biked across the USA. However, he still has a decade to try to catch up with Peter #1.


The other cyclist who runs neck and neck with Peter #1 is Steve Stevens, the man who is kicking this year’s NBG Mayors’ Ride off on Earth Day in Golden, CO. In terms of a bicycle resume, Steve HiWheeled across the USA in a world record 29 days time <link> ! He also HiWheeled 2023 miles across Europe from England to Turkey in 2006 <link>. In addition, Steve runs the Golden Oldy Bicycle Museum <link>. out of his, arguably most sustainable home in the world <link>.


And then there is John Howard  <link> A now 65 year old fellow author and cyclist, as a National Bicycle Greenway supporter,  John is one of the imprimaturs of my book “Awake Again”. Though he doesn’t collect, build or ride Hi like either of the Peters or Steve, he stands equally as tall for what he has done as a cyclist.


John has not just pedaled across the country, in 1982 he took second in the inaugural Race Across America  In 1985, he rode a bicycle 152 miles an hour (behind a race car). He won a Gold medal at the 1971 Pan American games. He has raced on three Olympic teams, is a former 4-time U.S. National Road Cycling champion (1968, 1972, 1973 and 1975) and he won the 1981 Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii. Still very active in cycling, through John Howard Sports he is now busy promoting his latest book, “Mastering Cycling” as he also produces award winning  instructive cycling videos.


Find out how you can be part our several hour NBG Day tours and meet all but John Howard HERE!