Some time ago I posted photos of Floyd Beattie, a speed and distance unicyclist from Athens, Ohio, IN THIS THREAD. One of the grad students in the lab here has childhood memories of Floyd’s antics in her hometown from decades ago. This is an exerpt from the note she sent me.
I just heard from my parents that Floyd Beattie passed away of cancer. His family is looking for comments from someone in the unicycling community that might be appropriate to read at his funeral, and also (I think) someone who might have an idea for what to do with his vintage unicycle. They would especially love to know if there is a museum anywhere that keeps track of things like unicycling. I thought you might be able to suggest who to contact on these things. Any ideas? I think he was very touched by your interest in sharing his photographs and in the feedback they generated, so it was actually meaningful to him during a tough time.
The vintage unicycle she refers to is a Tom Miller big wheel. Floyd owned several other unicycles. I never met Floyd but I know John Foss and others on the newsgroup have. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Anyone who knows how to contact Tom Miller may want to do so also.
The Metz Bicycle Museum in Freehold, NJ has a couple of unicycles including a golfbag unicycle ridden by Judge Edison Hedges of Atlantic City, NJ. Hedges was profiled in 1974, the first year of the USA Newsletter. Perhaps his family would prefer that his vintage unicycle stay closer to home, but if there is interest the website includes contact information. I’d be willing to assist if they desire.
Floyd Beattie was a former holder of the Guinness 100 mile record. It was a battle, in the late 80s, between him and a handful of other (younger riders). That battle ended a week after Unicon III in Japan, with a 100 mile race. Yes the Takauiki Koike current 100 mile record was set in an actual 100 mile unicycle race. I’m not sure how many other riders participated, if any, but the 18 year old Takayuki set a mark that was way beyond the training of the 30+ Floyd.
Befor that, he set some speed records for the adult age groups at some USA conventions and at Unicons I and II. A picture of his aerodynamic track unicycle (with spoke covers and full toeclips) is featured on my Garage Page. I’ve attached it below.
If his family needs someone to write something up, I’m sure I could help out. I have a stack of letters he sent me during my newsletter editor days, and even some more recent emails from a few years ago.
Floyd owned more than one big wheel from Tom Miller. He did an hour record attempt in 1988 or so, as well as setting a “top speed” record at an IHPVA convention. This was done on brand new 45" wheel, I believe, which might make it very similar to mine.
I don’t remember what Floyd’s speed was from the 200m speed trap. Something like 22-23 mph. I think Cokers have exceeded that, but not under such official conditions. I’m sure it’s still the official IHPVA top speed record for a unicycle.
In his hour record, he was trying to beat a mark of about 14.88 miles or so that was set by a guy in the 1880s. He was shooting for 15 of course, but didn’t quite make it. He was being a purist on the ride, and wouldn’t accept any outside water. So after he used up what he’d carried with him, he proceeded to dry out and have to “retire” a few laps before the hour was up to relieve his stomach of its contents.
Goodbye Floyd. We will miss you with your giant beard and long hair, juxtaposed under a skinsuit and aero racing helmet. You were one of a kind.
Here’s a picture of Floyd, from one of his 100 mile record attempts. Don’t know which one, but pretty sure this was in Ohio, not the one in Japan. This is not my photo, and not sure of the source. I think it may be a press photo.
Here is an AP report of one of Floyd’s record breaking rides.
Unicyclist Claims World Record For 100 Miles
25 August 1985
The Associated Press
(Copyright 1985. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
(AP) _ A man who once crossed Ireland on a unicycle pedaled through a downpour to claim the world record for a 100-mile ride on a one-wheeler by more than an hour.
Floyd Beattie, 32, did 22 laps on a 4.54-mile bike path in seven hours, 53 minutes and 55 seconds. The mark listed in the Guinness Book of World Records is nine hours, 20 minutes and 53 seconds set in 1981 by Johnnie Severin of Atwater, Calif.
The Athens resident used a 40-inch wheel instead of the standard 24-inch wheel, saving him an estimated 30,000 pedals, he said.
During the ride, he ate bananas and a mix of apples, carob, dates and coconut, drank from two water bottles attached to the cycle. He hopped off the unicycle after each lap to turn around.
He was a great guy and very helpful back when
I met him in the mid-1980’s.
Fond memories will always be remembered.
I was on the track when Floyd rode that unicycle
John included a photo of in this thread. It was 1986 in Bowling Green Ohio. He did 4 laps of the track passing and lapping other riders riding with toe clips.
Please let your friend know that if they are looking for a permanent place for Floyd’s unicycle
to be displayed and cherished, I would be greatful
to have it on display in my unicycle shop.
I would reprint all the photos I have with/of Floyd, put them in a album and make it available to everyone who visits.
I would drive down to Ohio and pick it up if I get to be the person who gets to display the unicycle.
I have many vintage unicycles including old Schwinn’s, Loyd and T.E.M. unicycles. T.E.M. are unicycles made by Tom Miller beford 1985 when he started The Unicycle Factory. I have many T.U.F. unicycles as well.
I’m into collecting and perserving the history of unicycles and unicycling. I will have a show room dedicating to unicycles from years past.
Do you have the date of his death ? I want to record it for historical reasons.
Thanks for your comments and ideas. I will pass this information along and see if we can get anything done. Raphael’s and Darren’s museum ideas seem to be nice ones. I will try to somehow find out if the family wants to contact John Foss for comments which would be the first thing needed.
I have an old Bill Jenack unicycle that’s waiting for a museum to house it. Right now that’s the city of Davis (CA), who have a bicycle collection but are still arranging for a permanent place to display them. When this happens, I will fix up that old Oxford and put together some info about Bill Jenack to go with it.
But this may take one year or ten. Closer to one at this point, I think, but I’ve learned not to hold my breath. So I can’t offer a museum place for Floyd’s wheel yet. Darren’s offer sounds like a good one. I’m sure he will take good care of that uni for years to come.
My own unicycle collection suffers from my garage environment. Constant temperature ups and downs, but less moisture out here in CA than they got in NY or Michigan. But still the years take their toll. If the house had unlimited space, I’d keep them idoors where the temperature is constant…
They fooled you! They have also worked to fool us with names like Bridgestone, Panasonic, and Datsun. Others were less successful, like Subaru (Fuji).
The significance of my Oxford is where I got it from, pieced together from inventory in the Jenack garage and attic after he passed away in 1982. It’s all original “Jenack” components. Plus it has a cardboard wheel insert, like the ones you may have seen in old Jenack Cyclists pictures from Jack Wiley’s The Unicycle Book, the Complete Book of Unicycling, or the Bicycle Builder’s Bible.
It has been brought to my attention that Tom Miller might also be interested in Floyd’s unicycle. It may have been built for him by Tom for his record attempts at no cost (or no attempt to collect, knowning how Tom works), so rightful ownership might revert to him as well. Tom has quite a collection himself. I hope he’s able to keep them out of the rain!
If you can, please give Tom a call, or forward his number to Floyd’s family: (765) 452-2692
Wow, sad news indeed. I knew Floyd but not very well and only at the yearly meets in the mid-80’s. He was always focused in warming up and getting ready for the next race at the National Unicycle Meets. I remember his toe clips and then he switched to “Power Bands” which were straps around the pedals instead of toe clips. I asked, "Can you get out of them any faster than toe clips? Floyd’s answer, “No, but you think you can. So they are less scary”. Floyd ventured into new territory with those types of speed enhancements as well as wind cheating enhancements for unicycling which were unheard of at the time. Like a skin suit and aero helmet and aero bladed spokes. Floyd was a turn pioneer. I was hoping to meet him once again at a National meet. I guess now, I’ll think of him when I ride. I’ll miss you Floyd.