Great Unicycle Ride Across Iowa

Great Unicycle Ride Across Iowa

The Great Unicycle Ride Across Iowa (GURAI) will start next week (Sunday, July 21st - Saturday, July 27th). GURAI is a 480 mile unicycle ride that follows the route of Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, commonly known as RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI is the largest long-distance bike ride in the world with 8500 registered riders every year and many more who just “come along for the ride”. The ride starts in Sioux Center on the West side of Iowa and travels East to Bellevue on the Eastern edge of Iowa. The days range in length from 55 to 77 miles. If successful, we will be the first to complete RAGBRAI (and ride across Iowa) on unicycles.

Daily updates will be posted here on the newsgroup and/or on the GURAI website. The website has quite a bit of information and will be updated with photos, riding log, etc. during and after the ride.

Because of the large scale of RAGBRAI, it should be an excellent opportunity to get some publicity for unicycling. We are trying to get as much exposure for unicycling as we can. Please stop by the website and sign the guestbook, we’d love to hear from you!

GURAI website:

Jesse Shumaker

Hey Jesse, I’ll see you guys next Tuesday. I tacoed the Coker wheel, so I’m riding my mountain/touring bike, pulling my BOB trailer. I may bring the muni along in the trailer, to ride to the beer gardens with. On Tuesday, I’m riding from home (Osage) to Forest City. I’ll find you guys when I get there. I’m camping where ever I find room, and riding to Charles City with you Wednesday. I’ll then either camp and ride back home on Thursday, or have the wife come pick me up Wednesday night. Preferably camp Wednesday too, but I’ll see what she says. See ya, Joe from North Iowa

If any of you receive the Omaha World Herald, look for an article about GURAI this week.

I will post either the link or a scanned picture when it does run.

A tacoed Coker wheel…I want to hear the story behind that one. If you happen to be a juggler too, bring a few props along. I’m sure the muni would be a big hit. You could do some trials riding at the stops along the way. We’ll mark out plenty of groundspace so you have room to camp by us. See you soon.


I thought all you had to do to taco a Coker rim is ride it near some cheeze and salsa. They pretty much fold on their own.

Also, can anyone conjugate the future imperfect (or future impartial) form of the verb, “to taco”?

I grew up in Iowa and have always wanted to make that trip. Maybe next year. I will be with you this time in spirit.


I grew up in Iowa and have always wanted to make that trip. Maybe next year. I will be with you this time in spirit.


The Omaha World Herald ran an article today about our ride:

Great article, George. Good, positive press is always a plus. Have a great time on your ride and don’t forget to pass some bicyclists. I’ve passed five in the last two days and they were all alive.

Thanks to all who have signed the guestbook already. It’s nice to know you have people cheering you on. I leave tomorrow morning to travel to the tour’s start town of Sioux Center, IA.

Again, we’ll be posting updates on the website as often as we can. We can be contacted by posting something here on the NG or signing the guestbook.

Harper, I’ll do my best to make you proud. Many a bicyclist has already eaten my dust on the uphills.

Hello everyone,

Updates on our ride are posted at:

We’ll try to update as often as possible, but it’s hard to do after riding a unicycle all day :slight_smile:


Jesse, George, Aaron-

Looks like you guys are making great time with few falls. Excellent work. Keep passing those two wheelers!

And the responses: “I don’t think I understand. What other wheel would that be?”

“No, it’s not hard. It’s just one of many things that the dedicated are willing to pursue.”

“Gears? Yes, one is plenty.”

The daily journal on the GURAI webpage has been updated again. The journal entries for the last two days as well as stats for the entire ride will be posted in the next few days. Pictures should be posted within a week.

I have some photos of the GURAI up at;

I don’t have any of anybody actually riding a unicycle. I could barely keep up with them, and I was on a bicycle. I rode my muni around at the stops along the way. see ya…Joe in Iowa

ragbrai 010.jpg

At approximately 7:34 P.M. and 17 seconds Central Standard Time, two unicycle wheels and two tired riders hit the Mississippi River after completing every mile of RAGBRAI XXX, 501.4 miles in 7 days

Pictures from the ride are now up as well as an updated daily log.

Absolutely amazing guys! This was some serious miles. There had to of been of few times where your will was seriously tested. Few unicyclists have traveled that many miles in consecutive days.

When you get time I would like to know how your butts held up. You did not talk much about it in your diary. Did you get to a point where it didn’t hurt anymore or was there always some pain to deal with. Also, if you had to do it over again what would you do different? And lastly, did you feel like you got easier or harder as time progressed? I want to do something like this someday and am curious

Again congratulations and absolutely amazing feat!


I’m speaking for myself here, Jesse (jshu99) might have his own opinions…

Seat discomfort was definitely a major factor in the ride. I applied liberal amounts of “BodyGlide” to critical areas every morning. I never had any “saddle sores” to speak of. Numbness and the compression of certain soft tissues was my biggest problem. We would stop every 7-15 miles for a “circulation break”. My discomfort was about the same all week, maybe a bit worse on the first and last days.

To minimize the aforementioned compression all of our Cokers were equipped with the “GB handles” that I make. These allowed us to pick some (and at times all) of our weight off the saddle and place it on our hands. The trip would definitely not have been possible without the handles.

For the most part, the week got easier as it went. The first two days pretty much whipped me into shape for the rest of the ride.

I really can’t think of much I would have done differently. If I had to do it again, I’d probably do a better job of hoping for tailwinds. We had headwinds all week; I can remember only 2 times when we had tailwinds.

If you ever do decide to do something like this, I’d highly recommend doing it during RAGBRAI or a similar organized ride. The support we received from people was phenomenal. It’s pretty cool to ride through a town and have everyone clapping and cheering.

A post ride survey has been added to the ride journal. More photos coming soon…

Regarding Dan’s questions:

Yes, saddle soreness was an issue. The “circulation breaks” mentioned by George were essential. After the first couple of days I had some chafing right at the edge of the pad in my cycling shorts, but that got better afterwards. Otherwise the “sore butt” became more noticeable as the ride went on. Early in the day, I would actually feel comfortable in the saddle when I hopped back on after a break. Later in the day (and in the week), I felt the saddle soreness as soon as I hopped back on. The GB handles were a HUGE help. I can’t imagine doing the ride without the handle.

Because of problems with my left knee, and consequenly, right achilles tendon, the ride got harder for me later in the week. The other guys seemed to hold up well later in the week.

Your final entry in your logbook, “a week after the ride” was informative, and interesting. Most revealing to me is one of you (cant remember who) indicated that he would participate in a similar multiday tour as long as the daily miles did not exceed 50.

I have always made the comparison of a Coker being twice as hard as a bicycle. Hence, traveling 50 miles on a Coker has the same “feels like” effect as 100 miles travel on a bike. Having experienced both, I know that the miles after 50 on a unicycle, and miles after 100 on a bike are a completely different experience. The transition moves from absolute enjoyment during the first 50, to absolute survival thereafter. Most of the reason for the difference is physiological, although a sore butt from a unicycle doesn’t help the situation. Note that Lars average daily miles were approximately 50, which possibly adds credibility to the case.

I think one can get enough miles of training in so pain and discomfort are minimized when riding in excess of 50, but it would take a bunch of weekly miles. Most working people simply do not have the energy, focus, and time in order for this to happen. The same holds true with a bicycle, most people do not have the energy, focus, and time to train so that miles after 100 are still comfortable while multiday touring. Some cyclists participate in 100-mile multiday tours, but few participate in over 100 mile multiday tours.

With is important to know is that this tour was more about guts and determination, than it was about fun. This is not to say that satisfaction in completing the ride was extremely high. There is a difference between fun and satisfaction.

I bet that you all will never forget this ride. I will also bet that this ride will prove to be a huge character builder for all 3 of you. As the great Eddie Merx once said, " Compared to cycling every thing else is easy". I think the same hold true in distance unicycling of this magnitude. More people need to do hard things!

You guys are amazing!