Century Ride of 9.7.08 (and massive UPD)

Today would have been the first ever 6-person Century completion ever, except only one of us actually rode the 100 miles, and it wasn’t I.

The riders
Me, Roland Kays, Perry Woodin, Steve Relles, Adam Cohen, and Andrew ___, a 19-year old I’d not met before. Roland and I were on geared 29s, but the others were on Cokers. We all arrived at Central Park North except for Adam, who had parking issues following a flat tire that he had to fix late in the game. He still managed to pull off 75 miles, which is quite impressive. Steve also finished with Adam, while Perry came in at an impressive 55; I’m not sure about Andrew).

The other 5 of us took off a few minutes earlier than the training wheel crowd, but they quickly passed us when I took everyone 5 blocks out of the way by accident (I possess a wonderful sense of misdirection). Eventually we headed down a slightly different route that allowed us a faster, smoother (and longer) ride towards the Brooklyn Bridge. We stayed together until the first rest stop (at mile 14) after which Roland and I zipped off with the goal of 100 miles; the others had to contend with choosing 55 or 75-mile options due to the time constraints (12 hours max).

Going for the hundred
Roland and I had a great time. The route took us around all of Brooklyn, which had a pretty flat route, and thence around Queens, which never seemed to end. In fact, the break between rest stops is surprisingly large at that point, going from mile 42 to 71 without any peanut butter or bananas. We took our own breaks frequently, partly to rest my groin or Roland’s legs.

Pain and breaks
It was odd how each of us suffered differently, especially since I was not expecting any troubles after having such a relatively pain-free Lobster. But the breaks made a huge difference, and by mile 71, we’d made great time and were looking at finishing by 5pm (that is, in 11 hours, total). This was not to be.

More pain: a massive UPD for me and wet pants
A few miles later, as we finally arrived in the Bronx, it was time for me to upshift yet again. I was just ruminating over how many times I’d successfully shifted up to that point – 50? 100? – when suddenly the gear didn’t catch and I fell over backwards like a bowling pin. Happily I was wearing a helmet, wrist guards, and even a fanny pack hydration system. All of these were essential in my coming out of the fall with nothing more than two tiny scratches on my elbows. But in falling, I smashed my helmet on the ground. I wasn’t dazed, but it was certainly the hardest I’ve hit my head (out of three times total). The fall didn’t hurt my shoulders only because I didn’t have time to move my arms from my sides, which might have resulted in a worse fall. But as I lay there realizing that I was ok, I wondered why my pants were wet: my hydration pack had ruptured. Having checked that my body was unhurt, I next checked my 2nd-most valuable possession at the time, but luckily my iPhone was ok. Phew!

Gun shy and sore
At this point, I had ridden about 78 miles. There was still time to complete the 100, but I was nervous that my head or neck might have some latent injury and that I had no water for the remainder of the ride, tho I could always buy liquid, so that wasn’t a big issue. The real issue, however, was my bum. I was really sore at this point, and I worried that I’d only be making things worse if I rode for 3 more hours. I decided to quit the ride a bit early and headed to the race’s endpoint while Roland rode on thru the hilly Bronx. He ended up finishing the ride (about 105 miles) in just over 12 hours.

Rosy cheeks
When I got to my mom’s afterwards for a shower, I took a look at my bottom. It looked like one of those cartoon Santa faces from the 1960s with really red cheeks. The shower was painful and the drive home (80 miles, or just about the same distance it took me 10 hours to ride) was a bit uncomfortable.

The good news
Well, I was happy that my ride didn’t tire my legs or make any other muscles sore and that I was able to ride nearly 85 miles after having only ridden about 25 since the Lobster. It’s too bad about my seat and about that UPD, but it was still a great day.

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Didn’t one of those cheeks wear my tattoo a few years ago?

Good ride, David. You’re no sissy.

Great write-up, and sounds like a great ride even with the unhappy ending on the century quest. It sounds like you had a “perfect storm” of protection to keep that fall from being much worse.

You mentioned this was the first-time 6-person century attempt, although I had thought this had been done previously during the 2007 ride around Lake Tahoe. Irene, Nathan and Beau, M. Scalisi, and Ryan Woessner are all listed together in the “Who has completed a 100 mile ride?” thread, but I thought that day that Scot Cooper and John Foss also did the century instead of the normal 75. I might be wrong, since I didn’t actually see them do it. They pulled away from me by Mile 5, and I didn’t see them again until I finished the 75…a very long time later, and after all of the centurions had finished.

I had a fall on my bike, when the seat post clamp broke while I was riding with no hands, unceremoniously dumping me on the road at something near 20 mph. You don’t want to see the pictures. I couldn’t sit down for a week. But no serious damage; you’re fortunate to have a lot of flesh down there.

An incredible ride anyway. Frankly, I think it’s incredible that anyone still considers doing long road rides after RTL. I’ve had my life fill at this point.

Hope you recover quickly!

Sorry to hear about the crash David, but it sounds like it could’ve been much worse.

On our century ride last year, there were indeed 6 unicyclists who set out to do the full 100 and all of us did make it. It was Scot’s second century but the first for the rest of us. I’m not sure of everyone’s time but Beau and I finished in 11:20 if I remember right.

Here are photos etc: http://nhoover.smugmug.com/gallery/2955744_deRzP

Get well quick,

Sorry for misreporting about the ‘largest group to attempt’ … Somehow I’d gotten that impression. Too bad we didn’t have a bit more time or at least two more riders could have finished.

Wow - this thread got posted fast. When I got home, it was all I could do to drag myself upstairs and crawl into bed.

I’d had the 100-miler in my sights, but after some lolly-gagging and a long line at the first rest-stop’s bathroom, I began to realize that there wasn’t enough time for the full monty. Adam had planned on the 55 mile loop, but we compromised on the 75, farther than either of us had ever ridden. We took our time with leisurely breaks (12 hours, but only 8 hours of riding).

This event is incredibly well-run. The well-marked route does a great link-up of existing bike-paths, parks and New York’s mammoth bridges. We also had the good fortune of perfect weather, breezy, upper 70s, and the hurricane the day before left the air crystal-clear, a rarity in the Big Apple.

With 6000 bikers, we were the subjects of constant questions and extravagant praise. One lovely, hard-bodied cycle-mama told me “You guys are rock-stars!” Made my day.

Even though I didn’t complete the century i opted for the 55 due to time, and a pain i was developing in my achilles. i finished the 55 at around 1:30 ish.
The 55 seemed to be a let down because i had done two 60 miles before this without feeling like the way I did after and when i woke up this morning. But I saw some really cool parts of NYC, and riding over the Brooklyn bridge in the morning was awesome, and differently one of the coolest things i did.

But i am must say we were a well known group of riders by the time the day was over. And I think we changed a lot of peoples views on us. I most of heard “hey your one the unicyclists” like 100 times, and everybody was constantly asking us questions about our way of transportation.

I think Dave and Roland met Sal (one of the marshals), and i ran into him later. He has plan to buy and learning on the 36, even though i did my best to talk him out of it for a smaller tire first.

How did the other cokers fare? We got parted in between the first and second rest stop. If my achilles was hurting so much i would have loved to at least done the 75 miles.

I am looking forward to doing these again next year, and guess I will be on the big one getting in even better shape for it once my ankle feels better.

Who has completed a century on a guni? So far I only know of Roland and another rider from Seattle that posted about doing a century on his 29er guni.

I don’t think there have been many!

I found a nice google map of the century ride, but it doesn’t show the 15-mile, 35-mile, 55-mile, or 75-mile cut-offs.

From the website http://www.nyccentury.org/, here’s a small map showing those cut-offs…

My 2nd century was on a 1st generation Schlumpf, back in 2003 I think. Funnily enough, it mis-shifted, too, but I happened to be leaning forward and wasn’t hurt – just scared. I guess that may have been the first geared century bit I don’t know.

I found yesterday’s riding easier than when I was on my Coker (my first century, I think it was 2001) because I shifted often and didn’t kill my leg muscles.

After the 1st rest stop, I never saw David again. And Andrew never sat still long enough for me to get a photo :wink:

So… here are some photos of me (Perry), Adam, Steve and Roland.

Perry at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island

Adam and Steve at the finish

Roland at the finish

Roland purging. Check out the kid pointing to him.





That photo of Roland puking is too funny. Poor guy. I talked with him this morning, and he said he was feeling better.

Great write-up! Don’t worry David, even if you didn’t finish the 100 miles, you’ll always be a Centurion! Plus I guess it wasn’t your first century anyway. Certainly if that ride was all on roads that are open to traffic, it was a ton more work mentally than a ride around Lake Tahoe. And, from my experience with the Bike New York ride back in the day, it’s bumpy! Or was that just my old hard-tire big wheel? :stuck_out_tongue:

The Tahoe ride of course has a lot less oxygen (lake level about 6300’ and the ride isn’t flat), so each has its challenges. On the '07 ride I made it all the way around the lake, which is 72 miles. That’s still my longest ride to date. This year I had some new milestones, of which many of us share at least one:

  • My longest unicycle race ever (RTL of course)
  • Longest MUni race ever (NAUCC MUni Marathon, 17km)
  • Full marathon in under 2 hours (1:48)
  • Full marathon without a dismount (ouch!!)
  • Possibly my steepest-ever uphill ride of any length (Unicon Uphill race)

That was an entertaining read, the more so because a week ago I met Roland and rode 50 miles with him. That was my longest ride ever, and I know I’m not ready for double that distance. Congrats for Roland finishing his century and all other riders for getting that far.

David, when you said “the gear didn’t catch” when upshifting, did you mean it stayed in low gear, or it was temporarily a coasting hub? The first happens all the time to me and it’s usually no problem (except one of frustration if it happens too often), so I’m guessing it was “in between two gears”. That’s scary! But I thought that that problem had been solved by Florian?

Not that I need to give you tips on using the Schlumpf or shifting since you have had your guni for a long time, but you shift with your ankle correct? Have you ever tried changing your method of shifting? I have found that the gears engage a lot better when I hit the button with a good kick of the heel by keeping the balls of my feet on the pedal and swinging my heel out and then swinging it in. This method has been extremely consistant in engaging the shifts immediately, and although it is harder to do than the ankle/slide method, I believe it is safer and more effective.

yeah, the gear slipped. I don’t know why it happens to me so often. I think it didn’t happen on the Lobster only bc I rarely shifted. I’m going to alter the way I upshift.

The other Uni’s have given this a good write up so I’ll just add my perspective, and a bit more detail about my last miserable 20 miles.

Also a few pictures up on flickr

This was my first Century, but I would still argue that its harder than the average 100 mile route you might pick because of all the starts and stops, and rough pavement. It was very hard to get into the groove that I’m used to from long distance rides. There were a few nice smooth sections along waterfront bike paths, but on average it was through the city. All the starting and stopping at intersections not only slow you down, they also wear you out. I shifted my 29" guni 100’s of times. David was very adapt at weaving through traffic, through red lights, in high gear; I was more likely to downshift and wait at the light with the other bikers.

However, it was a ton of fun (at least for 80 miles). I have been to Manhattan a few times, but never to Brooklyn or Queens, and only to a bit of the Bronx, so I enjoyed getting a look at all these neighborhoods. Crossing the Brooklyn bridge at dawn on a uni with 6000 bikers was certainly a highlight in my cycle carear.

Riding past Coney Island, a number of ocean front spots, seeing the Statue of Liberty, all very cool.

We rode through a lot of parks, and on this sunny Sunday there were tons of people out and about. The reaction to the Uni was as positive as I’ve ever experienced. Add to that the encouragement from all the bikers, and the ride was like some kind of love-fest for those of us on unicycles.

I felt great for the first 25 miles, and was riding pretty fast, pacing many bikes, as we entered the first rest stop. Miles 25-50 gradually got worse for me. My stomach started feeling lousy, and my legs were cramping a bit. I just did a 50 miler last week with Klaas and had no leg problems, so I was a bit worried that something was amiss and would screw up my century. At the 50 mile stop I took a longer break and tried to eat/drink more than I had before.

Miles 50-75 were good. My legs were still a bit tweaky, but I was feeling strong and was now confident I’d finish the century. After the 75mi rest stop David and I had a ~40min delay in crossing a bridge back into the Bronyx because of all the bicycle traffic getting up and over some stairs around some bridge construction. Shortly thereafter David had his wipe out and had to cut his ride a bit short, leaving me to do the last 25 or so myself.

Here I started to run out of gas. I was obviously not getting enough water and food into my system. My legs were at their limit, pushing up one not-that-steep hill both my legs cramped up so I jumped off only to find my legs were too cramped to stand. So I sat on a narrow strip of grass on the side of the road in the Bronyx and nibbled at a power bar. I was out of place, and the locals moved over to the other side of the street as I watched the slowest of the bikers finishing their 100 trickling by on the route.

Problem was, I still had 20 miles to go! I got back up and kept pushing on, downshifting at the slightest incline, and taking a few extra breaks sitting down. I hit the last rest stop at 5pm with ~12 miles to go. I ate some more food and pushed home determined to finish the 100. My stomach was really rotten at this point. I tried puking into a garbage can along the route without success so. Finally I rolled back into Central Park at 6:10pm with a group of very slow bicyclists. A few minutes after regrouping with the other Unis at the finish, and just as my wife called to check on me, I puked up a stomach full of PB&J, banana, and cliff bars. Damn, where where those nutrients and fluids when I needed them at the end of the ride?!

I’m still not sure why I had stomach problems, and related muscle cramping. Usually I have a pretty iron stomach, and this wasn’t a problem at RTL for me, or in any other ride. Perhaps some combination of eating something bad, catching some bug at just the wrong time, and/or getting my food in fewer but larger servings (at the rest stops) rather than smaller more frequent bites along the way.

Now that its over, I am happy that I pushed through those last 20 miles and finished. That will go down in my own personal book as one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. One day later I’m still rather sore and tired. As time heals these wounds I might entertain another century ride, but preferably somewhere with less intersections than NYC!

Nice write-up Roland. Congratulations. Looks like you had nice weather. I liked the photos, especially of Steve “fixing things”. Here’s my all time favorite “adjustment” photo: http://nhoover.smugmug.com/gallery/664026#28616410_ak8iB


Yes, great writeup. Photo #P9070095: Tapanzee Bridge? I think the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge would be along your actual route. :slight_smile: I rode my big wheel across that one several times in the Bike New York rides (formally called 5-Boro Bike Tour). Brooklyn Bridge at sunset sure was pretty!