Awesome day with Cross Country Unicyclist, Gracie Sorbello

The alarm awoke me at 4:30 a.m., much earlier than I normally get out of the sack. I had to push the snooze one time, a normal routine, but I popped straight out of bed. Today is the day that I am going to get to ride with Gracie Sorbello, the amazing girl who is uni’ing across the country. She has been in Colorado all week, and I missed a chance to ride with her earlier in the week. I had hoped to ride to the highest point in her epic journey together, Hoosier Pass. That didnt work, so I opted for another Pass that she would have to ascend. This is one that is still on my list of “to do’s”, so it had double the pleasure.
Our planned meeting spot, Granby, Co. is a 3 hour drive from Aspen. I had figured to hook up with Gracie and her father around 8 a.m. at a intersection where they would turn off to head up to Willow Creek Pass. As I carried the last few items I needed into my truck, I was blessed with loud birdsong. It sounded like a huge party was going on in the tree’s, the tree’s were alive and well. I noticed a dim glow on the horizon to the east, as I started my drive down the road towards Granby.
During one of the brief spells of good cell phone service, I rang Gracie. I was lucky to reach her, as she was on the move already. She was already past the intersection, so I had to drive up the road a little further until I would see them. I turned a corner and there she was with her father, her bare feet pushing those pedals around the 36er. It really hit me then, the magnitude of her journey. Her father, on a bicycle, only has rear paniers. Gracie, carries an appropriate sized backpack.
My skin was covered with goosebumps, I was so excited and honored to spend a day with the two of them. So, I got into my biking gear, and we all headed off after a few pictures. The morning was perfect for road uni’ing, actually for anything that involved being outside. The air was fresh, and cool, and barely a breath of wind was blowing. The animals were out, and the traffic was very light. Gracie and I spun at a very fast cadence up the majestic Willow Creek valley. Fresh waterfalls would greet us with their cascading water sounds at many drainage crossings. We were in the shade for a good part of the first hour, Gracie did mention that her feet were a little chilly. The three of us talked the whole way up, which of course made the time fly by. I was having a blast riding next to Gracie, she is solid and can really spin those cranks. We were flying up the valley! A few stops to rest our bums, and give her Dad a chance to catch up, made for a relaxed morning of riding. The summit to Willow Creek pass was 22 miles from the intersection, and we were only a few miles from it. Green covered mountains began to come into view with every turn, as the valley got narrower and narrower. The road began to steepen as our breathing followed along. Steady conversation turned to limited conversation. I love this stuff, working it!!! We stopped one last time to wait for her father, before the last push up to the summit.
Gracie is a girl with determination and fortitude. She is young and built for speed, her tan body matched her glowing smile beautifully. Her attitude is a breath of fresh air for me, very positive and full of gratitude. I could tell that her parents had done a masterful job of raising her and her siblings.
The three of us sat there in awe of our surroundings, Colorado was shining upon us today. We saddled back up and pushed to the summit.
I high fived Gracie as we approached the summit of Willow Creek Pass. This pass is relatively moderate, low elevation and not very steep. But, it does cross the Continental Divide, which for me is always HUGE. Pictures were taken, stories were told, and off we went down into the Atlantic drainage.
The cumulus clouds built to the point of letting go, so we stopped and put on our rain gear for a few miles. The rain brought further enjoyment to our wonderful morning of uni touring. Gracie’s father passed us a few times on the descent, but we would occasionally pass him. The descent was allot like a roller coaster, both ups and downs. The Never Summer Range off to the east came into view as we pedaled down into North Park. That range is the farthest west boarder of Rocky National Park. The Zirkel Wilderness also came into view, but farther away to the west.
Our next destination was Rand, Co. a picturesque little ranching community. It has a post office, a general store, and a restaraunt. Our stop was rudely interrupted by swarms of hungry mosquitos. We applied repellent, thank you Gracie, and surivived through our lunch. I knew that this was my point to turn around, as I had ridin 25 miles with them already. They had 22 more miles to go for their day. We hugged, high fived, and said our good byes. Off Gracie went, barefoot on her 36er with her father providing support on his touring bicycle. I’ll never forget that moment, or for that matter, our 3 1/2 hours spent together.
I headed back towards the Continental Divide, and Willow Creek Pass. It was 10 miles or so to the summit. I could see that the rain was thicker than before, so I mentally prepared for the weather. As I got deeper into the forest, the rain began to get harder, so I stopped. One last bit of food, put on my rain coat and off I went into the thunderstorm. I pushed suprisingly hard up the pass, even with the rain drenching me. Every little drainage began to flashflood and my shoes were filled with water. The thunder seemed to be continous, with no breaks. Very few cars passed me during this time. I spotted the mileage marker, 2 miles to the summit. About one mile to the summit BANGis when it happened; my hairs stood on end on my entire body. Then… white light and BOOOOM at the same instant. The road shook, but I was able to stay on the GB4 36er. Common sense would have been to get off at that instant and find shelter, but no, I had to make it to the summit. I also figured that if that didnt hit me, none would, sh—t for brains, huh.
I pushed it hard as I passed over the top of the Continental Divide, the rain was still coming down in sheets. I was warm, even though I was at 9600’ feet elevation. My rain coat worked great keeping my core dry, but everything else was soaked. Then the rain turned to hail stones the size of peas. I handled it for awhile, but decided I should find shelter as the road began to ice up. It only lasted for about five minutes, the hail that is, so I got back on. The rain finally stopped about 2 miles from where I had started again. Remants of the thunderstorm could still be heard behind me as I pedaled towards my truck.
I took a couple of other breaks on the descent, for pictures mostly. Colorado was spectacular that afternoon, and I was still alive. I gave thanks to the weather gods, and the unicycle gods, every chance I could that afternoon. Reaching my truck 7 hours later, with a smile on my face, I was grateful being able to ride with Gracie and her father. My time with her was not near long enough, but was memorable just the same. I admire what she is doing, and her father as well. They are quite a team together, out there on that lonely road.
Gracie, you are amazing and you rock. Keep spinnin and grinnin!!!

My short ride with Gracie stats:
50 miles
9.5 mph average speed
4200’ vertical
4200’ descending
7 hours total time out
Willow Creek Pass

Pic #2 is on top of Willow Creek Pass

pic #3 Gracie barefootin

nice write up, that’s cool that you were able to meet up with them and ride. I really like the pictures!

How did she get up on top of that sign?

It was a great write up, what excactly happened with the lightning? Sounded pretty close. Thats awesome you got to ride with her, looks like she is using some pretty short cranks.

Thanks for those pictures, that were really nice.

That’s the first thing I wondered too. How did she get up on that sign?
Maybe Aspenmike will reveal all later.
Great report, by the way.


Thanks for another brilliant writeup of a spectacular opportunity. It’s nice you had a backup since your first choice fell through. What a determined woman with a noble cause. What a bizzarre ride under incredible conditions. It was as if everything was unfolding in a way to burn this into your memory forever. You have honored each other by riding together.

After all that, the thing I’m most wondering about is if she still has the pins in the pedals. :stuck_out_tongue:

Those bare feet are killing me. That girl rocks. And so do you, Mike. I’m in awe.

John Long

that is very cool you are mentioned in this travel log

she likes to hang/climb on all the signs doesn’t she :slight_smile:

As always, I am in awe of the rides you do. A casual 50 miles over a mountain pass. And then after breakfast… :astonished:

I’ve not heard of this formidable lady before. What’s with the bare foot thing? What happens in a UPD?

Wow, what an awesome ride. Mike and Gracie are both my uni-heroes!

I too am intrigued as to how Gracie got up on the sign, and about what happens when Gracie UPDs in bare feet (although it is possible that being such a super-unicyclist, she just doesn’t have UPDs:)).

Great write-up. Glad to hear Gracie is still doing so well on her voyage.

Don’t forget to donate some $$$$ to support Gracie with her goal to raise $10,000.


Awesoma Powa!!

very nice story - what a great opportunity to ride with Gracie. sure do wish my wife & I could have too.

Thx Harper, I enjoyed your take on it, and agree wholeheartadly with you.

There are enough supports on the backside of the sign to help with climbing up. I was on top of the sign with her for awhile, but knew that that is her thang, climbing signs, so I climbed back down.
I did not witness any UPD’s, either mine or hers that day. So, I can’t answer on what would happen. I would think though, that Gracie could run out most UPD’s, her feet are incredibly tough.

Thanks Mikefule, check out for more info on Gracie and her ride. She rides barefoot, and will most likely make it w/o shoes. The cold might be the only reason why she would use socks/shoes.

As you probably guessed, yes she has the pins in. No, just kidding, no pins in pedals.

Thanks for the kind words to all of you, it is a honor to be part of such a respected group of people, uni people. One more pic of Gracie in the Colorado mountains.



Thanks for the inspiring write-up about this special young lady.

Could you share what length cranks you use on your coker for the riding you do?
How about Gracie–hers seem pretty short for crossing the mountains?

Also, what kind of shorts are you wearing in the pictures and where did you get them?

Thanks, all the best.


Very nice write-up, I am amazed that she rides barefoot, good luck too her on the rest of her ride!

I am a barefooter, and she inspires me very much. The ride sounded amazing. I can only hope I get to go a good distance like you can do on your coker, and Gracie going all the way across the country that is amazing. Best of luck to all three of you.