Lobster Qualifier Ride Report

My name is Geoff Elder.
104 Days ago was my first day on a unicycle.
Thanks to Mark Premo (already qualified) who is a good friend from Mt Biking, and an all around over-energetic good guy, I’ve been thinking (obsessing) about qualifying for the lobster, just 201 days away.

Day 1

I had planned on borrowing Mark’s GPS and testing out a course in my neighborhood that I thought would be perfect for a lobster qualifier ride on my KH-29. I have a Nimbus 36 on order but I’m in a race between Jan 1st for team registration and the VT weather.

The furthest I have ever ridden a unicycle so far is 14 miles, just 2 days ago. I’m still hurting!

But, the weather looked good for the today and tomorrow (I repeat, ‘for today AND tomorrow’), so after picking up the GPS I figured today was good for a first attempt. It was chilly, with a high around 40, but really not too bad.
I had a carefully planned route that I thought was ideal for the 29” and my (lack of) ability. I wanted to avoid busy streets, unnecessary stops and be close to home for anything needed. It was a loop around my neighborhood of 2.17 miles with 141 feet gain/drop.
I had already played around with the ratings calculator, so I knew I needed 18 laps. I knew if I did one extra, 19, I would only need 18 tomorrow to make 150 points with the carryover.
I started around 9:30, and just started pedaling away. I decided to rest every few laps at the house for a circulation break, refuel, and anything else I needed.
After lap 7, my awesome wife, Kelly, stopped by from work and took some photos. (photos from both days: http://www.splitsecond.com/RTL/index.html )
After that everything fell into an almost endless rhythm of riding and quick breaks every few laps. There were a couple hail storms on laps 14 and 15, but nothing too bad.
Laps 16 and 17 sucked. I was getting tired but after a quick break I had renewed energy and finished up the 19 laps as planned in 5 hours 15 minutes (about 4:45 riding time).
I was sore and tired, but not as bad as I expected, since I didn’t think I could ride that far at all!

Total distance: 66.7 km (41.45 miles)
Elevation gain/drop: 817 meters (2680 feet)
Rating for Day 1 : 140 (nothing subjective)

Day 2

200 hundred days until the Lobster!
Had a restless night sleep. Looked out the window to see 4 inches of fresh snow :astonished: WHAT!!! This WAS NOT in the forecast. Yikes!
I checked out at the road. It was worse than I thought. On the road it had melted as it fell, then froze before more snow fell. They had plowed the snow off the top leaving a ¼ inch layer of ice you could barely stand on. No salt at all. Crap!
I didn’t want to waste yesterday’s ride. I felt relatively good, I just needed a solution.
Since I didn’t start yesterday until 9:30 and still had some daylight left at the end of the day I decided to give it till 10 am for the sun to break through the ice.

10 am and still a sheet of ice. No change at all. I needed a new plan!

I received an email from a friend that said the roads were in good shape outside of Williston (my town) so I packed up the car with the every piece of winter clothing I could fins and some sports drink and hot chocolate and went searching.
I eventually found a great loop in a development of townhouses. I did a loop in the car with the GPS and found it to be 0.81 miles with around 100 feet gain/drop per loop. Basically it was all a hill except for a flat area at the bottom where I parked. Plenty of elevation per mile, perfect for a 29” attempt.

It was 11:00 am. Not a moment to waste.
Lap 1 : I guessed I would need to do about 40 laps, I guessed that the extra elevation per mile would balance out less distance. I figured I would rest every 5 laps for a circulation and fuel break. This worked out well and I did it right through the ride.
Lap 6 : Photo lap. I took a bunch of photos as best I could while riding. Doing the lap without gloves wasn’t smart! Big relief to get my hands warmed up once I was back to the car.
Lap 17 : I realized the GPS had been stopped somehow, maybe a lap or 2 earlier. It must have been the cuff on my glove. I restarted it.
Lap 20 : Even though I’m wearing the same hiking boots I use for snow shoeing, my feet are freezing. I take a break and sit in the car with the heater running and drink hot chocolate for a few minutes.
Lap 30 : Another break. Because of the tangle up with the GPS around lap 17 I decide to stop the GPS timer and start it fresh from Lap 31 to 40 so I can work out the elevation later to apply it to the whole ride. I try to call Kelly to tell her how I’m doing but the cell phone dies mid-call. Maybe it’s cold too?
Lap 40 : Another warm up break. I’m very worried this won’t be enough. I don’t know exactly what the elevation will turn out to be. I don’t want to come out in the dark and do more. I’m tired, and very sore, but I decide to do 5 more laps…
Lap 45 : I realize I’m not sure I can dismount. It’s as if I’m on autopilot. All I seem to know how to do is keep riding. I come up to the car, the unicycle clatters to the ground and I fall on the car. It’s not graceful but it worked.
I’m done.

I’m worried the whole way home that I haven’t done enough. I download the data, plug the numbers into the Rating Calculator . . . .
YES YES YES I’ve done it!
I’m so relieved! I call Kelly at work. I call Mark. I send out email. I can’t sit down, I’m so relieved and excited!

Total Distance: 58.7 km (36.5 miles)
Elevation gain/drop: 1138 meters (3733 feet)
Rating for Day 2 : 278 (listing all 58.7 km as Extreme Temp)

Note: Without counting this as an extreme temp ride (no subjective rating) it would have been a rating of 193. So, I did it either way, but I’m sticking to the 278 because the temperature, wind chill, and being soaked from sweat all day in the cold were probably more of a factor than the endless hill riding and the distance.

Time for Champagne… :smiley:

photos from both days: http://www.splitsecond.com/RTL/index.html

Haha and I thought my qualifying ride was rough, Great right-up and even better perseverance!

Awesome work! I’m so impressed that you’ve qualified having been riding so little time, it’s amazing.

Watch out that you don’t overwork your muscles / joints though; you’ll need to get your body used to sustaining long distances in time for RTL. Sounds like you’re not lacking the motivation to achieve just that though!

Congradulation Geoff

Excellant write up. I’m still trying to sync with nature on my qualifing ride.
I did 54km on Sunday last weekend. Winter conditions would not allow for second day.

Keep up the great work.

Based on how my knees feel this morning, you’re exactly right! :o

But, I was looking at this as two events. Qualifying as one, and the actual RTL as another.

I’ll have time now to build up real endurance for the main event (after resting for a few days). At first it may have to be the spin bike in the gym but when winter allows I’ll be out on the 36" getting in the miles… :smiley:

Congrats, Geoff! You rock, dude. I especially like the pics with the icicles hanging off your KH29er.

Way to go Geoff!
Man, I thought my loops were repetitive! Yikes - with the climbing, descending, ice and cold - you’re clearly made of stout stuff!!
Your speed is impressive too - both riding and total.
You sure made that 29er work well for the effort - good show selecting your route!

Congratulations Geoff! That’s great. What an epic. I hope other people see what you overcame and can push through to qualify, even if it’s cold out. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment - or something like that.

Please go ahead and fill out the form at http://fs19.formsite.com/RideTheLobster/form185548023/index.html so we can get you up on the Riders page: http://www.ridethelobster.com/race/riders.php

We’ve got it up to date now. The US page has 18 people, the Canada page has 6 and the UK page has 3. I just heard that a bunch of riders (11 I think), qualified in South Korea last weekend.


That was awesome. I am ashamed to say that I cannot do cold weather. Were those regular long cycling pants? Are they warm? Maybe if I knew how to dress for cold I would do more. Great job with the pics.

Good work Geoff! Look forward to meeting you in Canada.

Thank you all for your kind words. I look forward to seeing ALL OF YOU in Canada! :smiley:
(if I can qualify, just about anyone on this forum can too, just get out there and do what you need to do…)

Nathan: I posted this writeup on the registration page the same time I put it up here, and already received a reply from Andy Cotter, so hopefully I’m all set?

Rem48: You’re right, getting clothing right for cold weather is a challenge. I’ve found from Mt Biking that what’s perfect for 40 degrees (f) is freezing for 30 degrees etc. It’s a fine balance.
Also, you’re going to sweat under all those layers so you need the right type of materials to let as much as possible escape. If you’re working hard you’ll be wet no matter what, so ideally you’ll have enough layers to be wet and warm-ish.
I was wearing cycling shorts, then a pair of lycra tights, then a pair of slightly fleecy lycra tights and then a pair of uninsulated overpants that zip up the sides to block the wind. Not as bulky as it sounds and worked out well for that temperature.
On top I was wearing a long sleeve Patigonia Capilene under shirt (they are really good for anything in the cold) then a very thick fleece and a gore-tex rain coat to block the wind. I know the ‘breathable’ part was actually working because ice kept forming on the outside of the jacket.
I was damp all day but didn’t really start to get cold till later in the ride as I became fatigued.
I was wearing really warm boots, but my feet still froze. I think it’s the constant pressure on the pedals cutting off circulation? Walking around for about a minute every 5 laps helped that for a while.

Hope this helps… :slight_smile:

Geoff Elder

Yes you are!


Activated charcoal foot/toe warmers for US$0.75 per foot are an awesome solution. Some kinds heat longer, some hotter. Best are the kind that have an adhesive sticky back so that you can position it on your sock just right so to avoid the bunched-up-sock sensation.

I like them best when the feet overheat with the warmers in before the ride starts (or after you stop for a bit). Then, when you ride (or resume riding), the wind chill factor + warmers make your toesies oh so comfy.