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.
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)
200 hundred days until the Lobster!
Had a restless night sleep. Looked out the window to see 4 inches of fresh snow 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 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…
photos from both days: http://www.splitsecond.com/RTL/index.html