Friday, June 01, 2007

Unicycling the STP

So every year thousands and thousand of bicyclists get together to cycle the 204 mile journey from Seattle to Portland together over two days.. This year's edition is coming in about a month and a half, and so you hear a little here and there among bicyclists in Seattle who are preparing for it. So I heard the other day about a guy who did it on a unicycle. Yes. This guy. rode. a unicycle. 204 miles. in 2 days.

So I looked up the story, and found it here. He did it in 2005. It's a really fun read, he did a great job writing the story up! Here's some excerpts:

Some of the personal achievements while training included riding thirty miles without getting off, maintaining an overall average speed (including stops) of 10 mph for over seventy miles, and riding up a 16% grade.

However, in 2005 I would be turning 40 just a week before the STP. What better way to celebrate my 40th birthday than by showing myself—and anybody else who cared—that I was still strong, tough, and a little bit crazy

(Read more ...)

Or just read the whole story here

If I could maintain an average riding speed of 10 mph—a respectable speed over long distances—then I would be sitting on my unicycle for over twenty hours. Compared to this a marathon or a triathlon feels like a sprint. With no gears, brakes, or coasting my legs would be working the entire time, so good training was going to be important.

After a year of planning it worked. At around 6:10 PM Sunday I rolled in to Holladay Park in Portland and cracked open a bottle of champagne, having left Seattle at 7:10 AM the previous morning. The vital statistics are:

204 miles

20:40 of saddle time

26:30 of road time

This gives me an average riding speed of a bit less than 10 mph. I’d hoped for more, but it was tough to maintain a good pace the second day. The first 40 miles on Saturday I managed a riding average of 11.4 mph. The first 40 miles on Sunday my riding average had dropped to 9.2 mph.

“The Hill” at the 43 mile mark is a legendary 7% grade that goes for a mile. It’s not really that bad a hill, but you can’t argue with a legend. This was one of the highlights of the ride for me. The really fast cyclists were far ahead, so I was riding with cyclists who were, once you removed most of their gears/coasting/brakes advantage, not as fit as I was. So I toasted them. Nobody passed me on The Hill and I passed sixty or more cyclists, while talking on my cell phone in order to make it seem even more effortless. It was very fun. It’s worth unicycling the STP just for that.

On the downhill side I just kept to the right and let the lazy cyclists coast past me without pedaling. Wimps.

Just a few blocks from the end began the highlight of the ride. My daughters Maria and Sarah were waiting, with their unicycles, ready to ride to the finish line with me. It was an amazingly powerful moment. As we rode through the blocked off streets the crowd was cheering us wildly. They were cheering everybody, but a unicyclist who makes it to the finish line gets an extra loud cheer. A unicyclist with two beautiful and talented daughters as a unicycle honor guard drove the crowd completely wild, and I felt like I was the king of the world as I rode triumphantly, giving high fives to my subjects. It was indescribably powerful, and I still get choked up thinking about it. I was again incredibly grateful to Helen for being there to support me, and thinking of bringing the girls’ unicycles. I was also thankful to her for being there to greet me, and for handing me a bottle of champagne to pop up open and sloppily drink.

No comments: