A CYCLIST has just completed an epic 22,000-mile cycling trip around the world – on a penny farthing.

John Summerfield, from Rochford, pedalled his handmade replica of the Victorian bicycle to Greenwich Market, London, on Sunday where his journey began two-and-a-half years ago.

John, known as Joff, visited 23 countries spanning four continents after setting off from zero degrees latitude at the Greenwich Observatory.

He cycled across Europe into Turkey before riding through Australia and New Zealand, south-east Asia, the USA and Canada before heading for home.

Joff, 40, who went to Park School in Rayleigh, said: “I cannot believe I have actually finished the trip.

“It is amazing to be back. I am very patriotic and the more I have travelled, the more I have appreciated England and my roots.

“It was not comfortable on the bike at all but you just get used to it.

“For me, the bike sums up a great period of adventure – a time of real exploration, of journeys without maps.”

His parents, Barry and Margaret, have kept up with his progress via e-mail and his website, from their home in Sutton Road, Rochford.

Barry, 69, said: “We are very pleased to see him back. We met him at Greenwich yesterday where he had a wonderful reception. He was only five minutes late after 22,000 miles. Hopefully, he will be back in Rochford at the end of the week.”

In China, Joff sneaked illegally into Tibet while in Nepal, he crossed the Himalayas at 17,000ft and made it to Everest base camp.

Joff, who had to abort two attempts through injury, took in world-famous landmarks including India’s Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex and the Grand Canyon.

He is the first man to complete the circumnavigation on a penny farthing since Brit Thomas Stevens in 1887. His bike had just one fixed gear, a hard leather saddle, small brake and solid tyres.

Joff travelled light with just a change of clothes, stove, tent and sleeping bag and survived on £5 a day. He suffered dysentery in Turkey and broke his wrist when he was almost run over by a truck in New Zealand. But otherwise he returned saddle sore but unscathed.

Joff, who sold everything he owned to fund the trek, said: “Now I will have to return to work and pay off my credit card bills.”

Joff raised money for wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation and breast cancer charities, and hopes to write a book about his adventure.

For more information, go to www.pennyfarthingworldtour.com