America's Most Beautiful Unicycle Ride

Yesterday, a group of us did a fantastic unicycle ride around Lake Tahoe in California/Nevada. We joined in on an organized bike tour called America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride which is somewhat difficult to register for due to demand. They only allow 3000 cyclists at this event.

There are 3 options, the classic around the lake (72 miles), the Century which tacks on an extra 28 miles, and the halfway around the lake option, a bit over 30 miles. Scot Cooper and I did the 72 mile option on our Hunter36s with Gary Kanuch on his kick-bike. Megumi and Beau rode Cokers in the shorter ride, along with with my cousin Becca and Scot’s girlfriend on bike. There are two climbs around 1000’ on each half of the ride, and we found them pretty easy. But many of the bicyclists were walking and moaning and groaning. We passed dozens and dozens of them on each hill which was fun. Most of the distance is rolling with 100% beautiful views of Lake Tahoe. The weather was at its very finest yesterday - I had never seen Lake Tahoe looking so beautiful. Traffic is not stopped for this tour, but I think it’s much safer to do this ride on the one day when thousands of cyclists are there than on a normal summer day when the car drivers are less aware and driving faster.

We were interviewed by the Reno Gazette and the Sierra Sun but I don’t see the article yet at the Sierra Sun site. Of all the races and organized tours I’ve done, this one had the best scenery, the most positive feedback and the most amazing finish line. You ride up a chute passing between hundreds and hundreds of cheering people - it was really unbelievable. This ride has been sort of adopted by the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training and between 1800 and 1900 of the 3000 riders were with riding with them - they come from all over the United States.

I didn’t take very many photos myself and might make up an album once I get some of Gary’s, but here is one shot at the finish by the Sierra Sun photographer using my camera: Scot Cooper, Megumi, Beau, myself and Gary, all happy to have finished safely.

For the 72.5 miles, I rode for 6:39, elapsed time was a little under 9 hours. My cyclometer said 4400’ of climbing, but I think it is really more like 3000’.



thats awesome! i went to lake tahoe once, and it was absolutely gorgeous. update us if you find yourself in any newspapers :slight_smile:


You can read one article here.

With one photo of Scot and one of Gary.


Thanks Nathan for sharing this great story. That makes six weekends in a row that Nathan’s done major unicycle rides, including a solo 24 hours in New Zealand, and riding in Telluride, CO last weekend (even higher altitude than Lake Tahoe).

You too can do some riding at Tahoe with a big group, at this fall’s California Mountain Unicycle Weekend. This will be Sept. 17-19. We will ride in Truckee, at the Northstar ski resort, and on other trails around Lake Tahoe. If you want you can stay extra and even ride the 72 miles around America’s second-deepest lake (over 1600’)!

Nathan and family joined me for dinner on their way home from Tahoe last night, calling me up out of the blue asking about sushi places. Mana, the place we went during MUni Weekend last year, is unfortunately closed on Sundays. But we went to another excellent sushi location…

Re: America’s Most Beautiful Unicycle Ride

Great write-up Nathan. I would love to join that ride next year. Is it first come first serve, or is there some other criteria to keep the 3000 limit?

On the quote above, what type cyclometer do you have that tracks your climbing altitude? I wish mine had that feature, but it only shows distance, top and average speed, and total pedal time.

ah,yes. Mana the place DudleyDoRide and I did the fastest u-turn his Toyota could handle without rolling…ABORT ABORT! to the steak house.

Great job Nathan! That is a lot of miles and a good pace. I am really anxious to see that area at the MUni Weekend. Until then, thanks for the report for those of us that must live vicariously.


To answer Tom’s question, it is first come, first served.

See their webpage at:

I believe they must block off about 2,000 spots for the TNT Leukemia riders, so registration fills up by late March. Registration for 2005 will be open in Jan. 2005. It would be great if you could come.

Yesterday was absolutely the most beautiful day I have spent in Tahoe. The water was an intense blue I had not previously witnessed there.

Gary and Nathan could have done the 72 miles in under 6.5 hrs. had they not waited for me. The only time I had an advantage on those guys was on the climbing. The rest of the time, I could not keep up. Nathan with his 125mm cranks was about 3 mph faster. Using 152mm cranks, it took me 6 hrs and 55 minutes of riding time.

It was a great day for everyone. I dont think that Nathan mentioned that Beau did the last 12-13 miles without a dismount.

If you cant make it in June, the organizers also hold some other events at Tahoe.


for their homepage.

Scot, I saw the crank length difference in the picture and wondered how that worked out. With my very limited Coker experience I can’t imagine doing that kind of climbing on 125’s. I guess 3 mph on the downhills does add up. With any length crank, that is an amazing ride.

And way to go Beau!


Well done again to all. Nathan, you must be in the best shape of your life. It must be nice to be able to dedicate all that time to unicycling. Your an animal.

I saw you guys!!!

I was working up in Tahoe this weekend and I drove past you and Scot. We honked and waved, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t see.

I was jealous.


The fall version definitely has my attention:



Gary Kanuch sent me his photos and I combined some of them with some of mine into an album.

Mike, that’s cool you saw us, but we had SO many people honking etc at us, it’s not surprising we didn’t notice. Scot met one of his neighbors which was pretty funny.

And Tom, not sure about the September ride - that month is usually very busy for us. But let me know if you decide to register and I might do it with you.


The same ride in Sept. is Sept. 12th. That’s the Sunday before CalMUniWkd…

Here are some details from the website.

The 72-mile Tour de Tahoe – Bike Big Blue course circumnavigates the highways clockwise around Lake Tahoe in both Nevada and California. It includes a challenging 800-foot climb to a rest stop overlooking Emerald Bay and a 1,000-foot climb to Spooner Junction. There are also many short rolling ascents and descents totaling over 2,600 vertical feet of elevation gain! The altitude ranges between 6,300 feet and 7,100 feet above sea level and the ride is recommended for conditioned recreational bicyclists, not for beginners. Participants must be at least 14 years of age (no children, please) and must be experienced in riding roadways.

For those traveling from out of town, just plan on staying in Cali for a week. Yeah…Dont forget to bring your Coker and your MUni.

More newspaper coverage

The Sierra Sun from Truckee put out a couple of articles yesterday. This one mentions and quotes unicyclists and this one just talks about riding a Huffy 10 speed mountain bike in the tour. If they are correct, there were 3500 riders - a new record. I sure did see a lot of numbers over 3000.


I forgot to answer Tom’s question on cyclometers. I used a Vetta RT88 wireless on my Hunter36 last year, including the Norway tour. It worked ok, but as time went on it got harder and harder to reset (press 2 buttons exactly simultaneously and hold). To the point where it couldn’t reset. Since I know I have to train hills MUCH more seriously next year, I wanted to upgrade to one with an altimeter. There are some nice ones on the market, but many have a problem fitting on my Hunter. Since I have Dave Stockton’s SuperCoker Wide hub, the frame is further from the wheel, especially so at the top where you want to mount a wireless cyclometer pickup. The basic problem is that transmission distance is only something like 70cm so you need to mount it high. But then the sensor has to extend quite a way to get close enough to the magnet on the spoke.

The Vetta wireless models all work ok in this regard, so I bought a V100A which is wireless with altimeter and thermometer in addition to the normal features. Now I’ve used it for 500 miles or more and it works great. It even shows % grade and has other nifty features. It cost about $100 at and has a single button to reset. In fact, I lost that button in a crash once and wrote to Vetta asking if I could order just that button - they immediately sent me one for free in the mail.

One other thing on the Tahoe ride newspaper articles. When I saw the article in the Sierra Sun, I wrote to thank the reporter for getting all the factual stuff right (which is rare) and he wrote back saying he liked my mail so much that he went back and edited the story on the website to add a photo of us at the finish line! Very cool. Here it is.


The cycle computer that I used on the unibago is a Cateye cordless 2 which I think I bought on close-out last year. They now may have the 4th version.

Cordless is the way to go.

The Cateye Cordless 2 is a great one too. I’ve had one on my Mountain Bike for the last 2 years and it works perfectly - no glitches whatsoever.


I’ve got a Cateye Cordless 1 tucked away in a box in a dark corner. Very retro…I’m thinking of bringing it out of retirement now :slight_smile: