That’s direct drive right there. No gears? Pffft. There’s no chain. You needed to put the exact amount of force on the pedals required to turn whatever size wheel you had. The wheel was limited in size by your ability to straddle it and turn the crank. That’s it.
The video shows the starting line with various Jeeves holding the bikes upright for their respective Woosters. It’s hard as all get out to mount a penny farthing and get going without help. They don’t show the actual start, but they probably require a good shove to get them going, too, or the amount of force required to turn the crank would be too high, and the bike would topple over before you moved.
Athletes used to be fit. Now they’re big and strong. Look at pictures of Ted Williams. He’s got a farmboy frame. Shortstops have more muscle on them now. Somehow or another, the ball still went over the wall pretty regular back then, though, didn’t it? Lance Armstrong wouldn’t have won a boneshaker race because the only doping was how much sherry you had with breakfast before the big race.