Lars, the preacher from the West who is nearly done with his 5,000-mile
ride across the US, has been keeping a journal of his ride. Most of it is
NOT about unicycling directly but about people’s reactions to his
unicycling as well as notes about the people and places he encounters; for
these reasons, his write-ups are not especially useful to anyone curious
about long distance unicycling. A recent note, tho, contained some
interesting nuggets for those of us into long rides.
I should note that his Guinness contentions are not necessarily accurate.
Some have tried to pierce Guinness’s impossible office in order to get
info on perspective records without success. Others have been told that
for a ride to be considered for the Book of Records, it has to average at
least as much per day as the previous record (in this case, 75 miles a
day!). Lars is going about 50 miles a day (I am not sure if his average
includes the fact that he doesn’t ride on Sundays, but that seems legit on
Here are excerpts from Lars’s recent note:
Hey, we’ve made it to New York! Back near Toledo we set a new Guinness
Record. We’ve ridden through mile 4,000. There are less than 1,000 to go.
Folks have been asking us, “What’s Next?” Here’s what we’ve been thinking
July 17th: Breaking the Guinness World Record.
Finally comes the day. We leave Hope Lutheran at 8 a.m. for the final 18.76
miles. CBS News films us as we head out the driveway.
At mile 12 Anne and Amy and Al catch up. We unload KariAnna’s bike and Al
and his son Nick get their unicycles out to join the ride. They are riding
24 inch unicycles, and while they pedal furiously I ride almost as slowly
I can. On a 24 inch unicycle I’d probably still be somewhere back in
Wyoming. The 36" Coker has worked well for this trip.
I’d been wondering if there would be an interesting sign near the Guinness
World Record mark, like the ETCETERA JUST AHEAD sign at the thousand mile
mark on the trip or the DO YOU HURT? JESUS CARES sign at the hundred mile
mark of our 202 mile 24 hour ride. It was a pretty plain section of road
with a lot of truck traffic as it turns out. But, a few hundred yards
the mark was an ice cream shop. Al’s wife Rosemary asks if we want anything
and we say thanks to Vanilla shakes.
So, its surprising, but we’ve already gotten an e-mail questioning the
breaking of the record. When Tim Ferry broke the Guinness 100 meter dash
record on his unicycle last year, he had the same thing happen.
So, FYI, here are the details for Guinness World Records listing of the
distance unicycling record… The Guinness record is 3876 miles, set in 1985
for a trip across Australia. He averaged something like 75 miles a day on
the trip. Our trip’s daily average will be somewhere around 50 miles a day,
thus the contention. Guinness records okayed our itinerary prior to our
ride, and then we reconfirmed it a couple weeks before reaching the record
mark, so it’s a record, subject to certification of our ride and route. We
collect three to four signatures a day of people who we meet along the
route, and we record our route each evening, with highways numbers and
mileage. At the end of the ride we’ll submit all the information to
for their certification and approval.
The whole ride has been done on the 36" Coker unicycle. I’d expected to
the 28" Semcycle for going up hills, but we’ve made everything so far on
big wheel. Its satisfying to have made the ride on one piece of equipment.
The length of the cranks determines the torque for pedaling. 6 inch cranks
are standard. Shorter cranks let you spin faster, but make hills harder. I
used 4.5 inch cranks all the way to the crest of the Rockies in Montana.
only exception was the day I used the 5 inch cranks to get over Steven’s
Pass in Washington. 15 miles of climbing with the last 6 miles at a 6 %
grade made me glad for the longer cranks. After the Rockies I switched to 4
inch cranks and have traveled on them ever since. The one exception to that
was riding into Lennep in the biggest headwinds of the trip. I switched to
inch cranks because without them I couldn’t get onto the unicycle or even
pedal into the wind. The handlebars have been such an improvement for
in wind and for climbing hills that I can’t imagine having to be without
them. I’m sure there are more optimal designs than I have, but this has
worked well for me. The brake has been great for easing the knees. In the
flat Midwest it has made a good parking break. And the inner-tube seat,
despite all the poppings along the way, has made the ride immeasurably more
pleasurable. To ride for 8 to 12 hours a day and get up the next day
just as good as ever is a blessing that gets my highest thankfulness. Heat
rash from the sweat, humidity, and heat, no fault of the seat, has been
tolerable. Bag Balm, recommended to Anne after her surgeries, has also done
me well ever since the temps started soaring.
Perhaps a half dozen people have unicycled across the U.S.A. Vaughn Murray,
who we rode with near Minneapolis, completed his ride over the past two
summers. Tyler Bechtel rode from near Oregon to Florida in 1997. In the
mid-90’s a man from Japan did the ride. Keith Cash did his solo ride from
Los Angeles to the East Coast in 1983. Someone rode 12,000 miles one time
a unicycle. Another person did a “round the world” trip in the 70’s. The
record we broke today is the record that was documented by Guinness World
Records. Every one of the long distance riders who has talked with us has
been generous with their encouragement. The ride, these people know, isn’t
really about the numbers or the technology. Once you get your routine
working, its about the people and the places and the experience, an
experience that is richer and fuller than anything we could have imagined.
Co-founder, Unatics of NY
1st Sunday / 3rd Saturday
@ Central Park Bandshell
1:30 start time