Man travels on a wheel and a prayer
8 December 2002
Copyright 2002, Chicago Tribune. All Rights Reserved.
LANSING, Mich. – Lars Clausen ended a 205-day, 9,136-mile unicycle journey from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic and back recently.
But he isn’t through.
“I’ve got one last little ride in Hawaii to make it all 50 states,” Clausen, 41, said. “I trained by riding in Alaska before setting out on the cross-country trip in April.”
Clausen left a job as campus minister at East Lansing’s University Lutheran Church in 2001 and intended to complete his ride, which began in Washington State, at the Statue of Liberty Aug. 10. But then he decided to ride the return trip.
“Things went really well on the way across,” he said. “I’m on sabbatical and had the time, so we decided to keep going.”
On the return journey Clausen–with his wife, Anne, and their two children accompanying him in a motor home–rode through the 28 states in the Lower 48 he missed on the way to New York.
Anne Clausen said the journey was an adventure for the family, including daughter Kari Anna, 8, and son Kai, 6.
The family stopped at places such as the Grand Canyon and visited American Indian reservations across the country.
Anne, a former teacher, and Lars supplemented the lessons learned on the journey with math and other instruction.
“I think they learned more from this than they would get in a classroom,” Anne said. “Every time they study an era, a geographical region or a people they will have this to draw on.”
Still, she looks forward to not spending her days in the motor home.
“We did a six-month tandem bicycle tour for our honeymoon,” Anne said. “Riding each day keeps you physically fit and in tune to nature, and I missed that on this trip.”
Friend Charlie Downs of East Lansing said Lars’ job was easier than Anne’s.
“All he had to do is ride the unicycle,” Downs said. “She had to drive the motor home, fix meals, do the logistics, help with the planning, take care of the kids and do the schooling.”
Clausen said trip highlights included a July stop in East Lansing and coming across students he had worked with at Michigan State University throughout the journey.
Clausen’s 5,032-mile ride from Washington State to New York City is the world record for long-distance unicycle riding.
He expects the Guinness Book of World Records will change that to reflect the entire 9,136-mile journey.
Along the way, he appeared on the CBS Morning Show and on CNN.
Son Kai, who learned to ride a unicycle on the trip, vows to do better some day.
“If Kai wants to break the record, I’ll drive the motor home for him,” Clausen said. “But I think I’ve set a pretty good challenge for him.”
The record ride
Highlights of Lars Clausen’s cross-country unicycling journey:
April 29–Sets out from Neah Bay, Wash.
July 12–Arrives in East Lansing, Mich., where he meets with friends and performs a wedding ceremony.
July 17–Breaks world long-distance unicycle riding record of 3,876.1 miles as he pedals out of Toledo, Ohio.
Aug. 10–Arrives at the Statue of Liberty. The distance of 5,032 miles in 111 days becomes certified as the official long-distance unicycling record.
Nov. 12–Completes 205-day, 9,136-mile journey back across the U.S. by reaching the Santa Monica Pier in California.
– Associated Press