Lobster Qualifying ride - 100 miles!

I wanted to get two things done before next year…

  1. Finally do a century ride
  2. Qualify for Ride The Lobster

I looked at the elevation profile of the W&OD trail and came up with a route that would basically accomplish both of those by giving me a next day carry over enough to complete the qualifying ride in 1 day.

I rode from Herndon to Purcellville and back…twice.

Pictures here:

and did a little bit extra towards the end to make it exactly 100 miles.

I got my friend Zach to go with me on his bike for some moral support and so I wouldn’t get bored, and we started the ride at about 830AM. We stretched and had a bagel and banana before heading out.

It was about freezing outside (33F) and windy, but the sun was just coming out so it wasn’t too bad. I put on my winter shell and some sunglasses with the orange lenses to brighten things up a bit and to keep the cold air out of my eyes. We made it to Purcellville (25 miles) only stopping once halfway to warm up and to put in toe warmers in our shoes (the chemical pack things) because my toes were freezing! We got to Purcellville in a little over 2 hours and were making good time considering it was slightly uphill most of the way.

We stopped at the bike shop at the end of the trail (Trails End Bike Shop) and bought some much needed cliff bar gel and shot blocks. I already consumed 2 of them on the way. When we got to the shop someone was inside asking about what unicycle to get their son. What are the odds that I would come into the store with a unicycle just as she was asking the question??? The store owner was trying to sell a Sun unicycle (had the info up on a computer), but I told her most people agree the Torker LX is the best beginner unicycle for its value, and she wrote down my advice and decided to order the unicycle on unicycle.com.

Anyway, we left soon after and when we got back to Herndon (50 miles) we were both pretty beat. I am not sure what time we even got back, but we stopped at a bakery/cafe to warm up and get some food. I got a cheeseburger and fries (I was craving it for some reason) and ate another banana from my car with a gatorade from the car. Filled up my camelback with more water and left at about 225PM(i think) to head back to Purcellville.

We both knew that we would have to ride in the dark for some of the ride and figured that the whole trip back from Purcellville would be in the complete dark, so we packed our lights. Going back to Purcellville was hard, and we stopped more often, but made it there sometime after 5…530 maybe? We went back to the bike shop and bought more energy gel stuff (hammer gel and carb boost), and since it was already dark out we figured there was no rush, so we went across the street to a restaurant. We sat at the bar there and warmed up, and I went to the bathroom to put on my extra dry layer I brought with me (underlayer of polypropelene) since the rest of my clothes were pretty wet and cold. I ordered some mashed potatoes and hot chocolate, since I couldn’t stomach anything solid.

I put on my helmet mounted light and put the battery pack in the camelbak and we left late. I fell once or twice on the way back due to unseen things on the trail, but it wasn’t too bad since my light is really bright. We only saw 6 people on the way back, and had to stop every 7 miles or so to have a energy gel or shot block with some water and they seemed to boost us a little. When we stopped we also closed our eyes for a bit because the cold air was really getting to both of our eyes. We rolled back to the car at a little after 930pm, but went an additional mile or so to be sure we did a full 100 miles.

I am very glad that Zach went with me on his bike because it definitely helped me out on the ride.

I wasn’t in too much pain, and didnt have any knee pain like I almost always do, the most pain I had was my neck/back and my left ankle.

My set up:
-std coker frame
-miyata plastic base, small thin slip of foam on top and the foam from the KH freeride saddle on top of that, with a leather cover on top. GB4 stiffener plate with GB4 bars.
-Wheel TA tire (brand new!)
-airfoil rim
-114mm cranks (I think the reason I had no knee pain)
-snafu pedals

consumed: a lot of water…7 energy gels, 1 pack of cliff bar shot blocks, 1 cliff bar, 1 oat bar, 3 bananas, cheeseburger, mashed potatoes, hot chocolate.

Total Distance: 100 miles / 160 km
Ascend: 2180 m
Descend: 2180 m
(both of those are estimated, and should be higher than that, I looked at the elevation map and took the differences between the half miles and added a very small amount to make it an even number…so it should be much more than that)
Night Riding: 25 miles/40.2km

UPDs: 3 (1 going too fast around a uturn, 2 at night, both landed on feet)

We also had some 10-15mph winds for most of the ride, and I was pretty cold for most of the ride and had to use 2 packs of toe warmers from keeping my toes from freezing, but I figured I wouldn’t enter anything into extreme temperatues because even though it was very cold for me…I know that others have been riding in much colder.

Final Rating: 802 (objective: 641)
Next Day carry over: 188

So since I had a carry over of 188, I already exceeded what I needed to do the next day, but I wanted to ride for a little bit the next day (today) to make it count, so I got on my unicycle and did a victory lap around my block. Surprisingly I had no pain at all and wasn’t sore! Well…I did miss my mount in the beginning and my ass really didn’t want to sit back down on the seat again, but other than that, it felt really good to ride again and to know I was qualified!

Wow, qualified in one day! That’s awesome!

All these tales of RTL qualifications are inspiring me; I think I might give it a go myself :slight_smile:

I really hate to post this but technically you can’t use only carry over for your second day

I am sure that with a rating of 802 they wont care about the technicality. That is a truly epic ride.

If they don’t like the one day qualification just say that your first day ended when you got back to Herndon the first time splitting the ride in half giving you objective ratings of 203 and 241 which is more than enough.

That ride is truly impressive. I hope to do a century ride myself sometime after RTL

Congratulations on joining the 100 club! That is awesome. And such style! A rating of over 800 in one day is huge. Unfortunately you don’t qualify for RTL that way. You have to use the rating calculator. The carryover is limited by your second day ride. So the 188 you see is only if the rating of day 2 exceeds 188 on its own. Otherwise you could ride 1km and call it 189 - that isn’t really cricket is it?

You really do have to ride 2 days in a row to qualify for ride the lobster…although the second day doesn’t have to be that far if your first day is huge. For example: Day one rating 802. Day 2: 50km, no climbing scores a 100 instead of only a 50 that it would without the carryover. So you need to get Day 2’s rating on its own to get to 75 in order to reach 150 assuming your carry over is at least 75.

And no saying your first day ride ended some random place in the middle of the ride either (unless it was midnight)!


Oh well. I didn’t plug it into the rating after I saw the next day carry over. I guess my logic was flawed. Guess I should have read the requirements more!

Either way, I’m still happy to have the 100 miles under my belt. My main goal was the century after all. I can fit two consecutive days with lesser length no problem. I’ll just extend my route to work and I’ll be good. I should get it in before the end of the year still. Maybe even before the end of this upcoming week.

Anyone who can ride 100 miles on a unicycle (especially in the conditions you had) can easily qualify for Ride The Lobster. When we were training for the MUT this spring, we set a high goal: complete a 100 mile ride in a day before the tour. We trained for that more than we trained for the tour itself. And that day was harder than any one the tour for sure. But then again, there was one period of four consecutive riding days on the tour where we had strong headwinds most of the time and covered around 300km. Any one day would be no big deal but doing those days again and again without a rest is harder. That’s what the qualification is all about. I know several people who have attempted to qualify for RTL and made the first day fine but were destroyed by it and couldn’t do the second day. No problem - there is still time to train more and make it. Just don’t lose your fitness over the winter if you’re in the northern hemisphere.

Ride the Lobster is going to be quite challenging. Just think of waking up (after not enough sleep probably) on the morning of day 4, knowing you still have 400km of racing to do in the next 2 days. And you are sore and tired from 3 days already. Plus, it will probably be raining or something! Sounds excellent, eh?


Hi James,

Well done on your ride and welcome to the 100mile club :sunglasses:


After finding out that the 100 mile ride didn’t technically qualify I decided to qualify two days after the 100 mile ride and work my usual commute to work on my unicycle into the equation.

I did a lot of night riding on these rides, and both days were reallllly cold and windy.

Day 1 was commuting and 20 miles extra
Day 2 was commuting and riding into DC after work.

Pictures: http://enhansa.net/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=3192

Monday - Day 1 of qualifying:

Woke up and stretched and had a banana before gearing up for the cold and windy weather outside. My usual ride into work is about 8 miles, but I decided to extend it to 10 miles in the morning. All of this was done in pretty bad wind that was almost blowing me off my unicycle. I got into work a little later than I usually do and brough my uni to my cubicle since I forgot my bike lock and went down to the gym to shower.

Monday’s after work I usually ride to my friend’s place and watch heroes and eat some pizza since Jerry Sub and Pizza has 5 dollar larges on Monday. After work I put on my light and rode 10 miles out of the way from my office and hooked up with the W&OD trail again and rode the same direction I rode on Saturday. The point to this was that I would ride 10 miles down and turn around and end at my friend’s place, so that I would do 20 miles after work before eating some pizza. When I got to his place I was freezing cold since the whole ride was in the dark and the wind picked up even more than the morning! I was wishing I had brought my balaclava with me. Either way, I got inside to the warmth and realized that my toes were numb. I took off my socks and saw my big toes had lost most of their color. It was pretty brutal outside (for me at least), but I knew that I had pizza coming.

My friends and I sat down and ate 3 large cheese pizzas and watched the last episode of Heroes. By now I had warmed up and put back on my cycle clothes and an extra pair of socks and unicycled home (10 miles).

I got back at 1130pm or so and took a shower and went to bed.

Monday’s stats: distance: 40 miles/ 64.4 km
Night riding: 30 miles / 48.3km
Strong winds: 40 miles/ 64.4km
Rating: 177

(Didn’t include the cold temperatures or the elevation profile, but looking up the profile and calculating the ascend/descend miles is annoying.)

Most of the ride was in the dark and all of it was in strong winds…which made me wish I had longer cranks than 114.

Tuesday’s ride - Day 2

Same routine as Monday morning (woke up/stretched/banana), unicycled to work with an additional 2 miles to make it 10 in the morning. Today I wanted to do something different though and decided to call up my friend Zach again and unicycle to DC after work. He decided to join me and we planned on meeting up after work outside my office.

Once again…it was windy…even windier than yesterday! It was also colder, but in the morning riding into work it wasn’t too bad since the sun was out. However after work at around 530pm it was completely dark and freezing outside! The actual temperature was below freezing, but according to weather.com it “felt like” 22F. The wind made it horrible, but I brought my balaclava with me into work and decided to just go for it anyway. Zach and I cycled from my office and made our way onto the W&OD trail. I put some of those chemical toe warmer packs into my shoes, but they didnt seem to be helping much. My mouth was getting almost numb so I put the bottom part of the balaclava over it and kept on riding till we reached Whole Foods in Vienna. We reached it after 12 miles or so of riding. I bought some food and warmed up inside. We took our time and stayed in there for a good 30 minutes or so and I put another set of warmers into my shoes (this time hand warmers) and my toes were starting to feel the heat.

I looked ridiculous by the way…with a balaclava, a helmet with a huge light on top, clear lens glasses to block the wind and a bright orange bike jacket. I got a lot of strange looks.

We left and rode the rest of the way on the trail and connected with the Custis trail and kept on riding through Arlington and eventually made our way to the end of the trail and crossed the Key Bridge over into Georgetown. I rode with traffic on M street and put my light on strobe to get more attention from cars. I got a lot of "WOAH, WHAT THE HELL!"s from people and “WHAT IS THAT” from others who were strolling through Georgetown. I had to hop in place a lot at the traffic lights and eventually we made it down to Pennsylvania ave and turned right and rode all the way down to the White House where I took some victory photos. Afterwards, we decided to just stroll around for a while and rode down to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial and around the WWII memorial and around the mall for a nice night time DC ride.

The funniest comment I got was when I was coming up to a couple behind them and my headlight engulfed their path and a woman turned around and went “AH! Oh…I thought that was from an alien!” .

Anyway, we met my friend’s sister at the Smithsonian metro stop and got on the metro back home. A few people talked to me on the metro and asked the usual questions.

Overall…it was a very windy and cold night, but it was a fun ride. Riding around the monuments in DC at night is really cool. They look a lot better and there are no annoying groups of tourists blocking the paths.

Distance: 10 miles in morning, ~30 at night to get to the trail and to DC and including the distance we went from Georgetown to the Monuments and around.
There were definitely some large Ascents and Descents on the ride, but I am too lazy to look up the elevation profile for this ride, so I won’t include it.
All in the wind, 30 miles at night.

Distance: 40 mi
Wind: 40 mi
Night Riding: 30 miles
Extreme Temperatures: 30 miles (I’ll include it today because WOW it was cold)
Rating: 239

I fit the ride in with my normal unicycling commute, and it turned out not to be that bad. I am still surprisingly not sore at all and have no knee pain like I usually do. I have done 180 miles of riding since Saturday, 85 of which were at night. I’m glad I bought that light!

Fantastic! No question there - you’re qualified and I look forward to riding with you in Nova Scotia!


Man, James, that is really impressive endurance and fortitude! And what a glorious ending on the Mall - you deserved that kind of wrap-up. Cheers!


Also…my gallery on my site is down right now for some reason.

I’ll post 3 pics here for those interested:

36" in the office

White House

Washington Monument

Cold feet and numb toes …

Sidi winter boots are great for keeping your feet warm … Works for me even with out the toasters down to about 25F.


Hey siafirede, I just found this thread! This is truly a ride of epic proportions and is way more hardcore than anything I did last weekend! 2180 METERS of climbing? That’s something like 6,000 feet! Bring it ON! All I did was spin home and up a couple bumps in the ground! Furthermore, it was 64°F when I started and cooled to the low-mid 40’s by the time I got home. None of this hardcore freezing-business. You rock!

Can’t wait to ride with you at RTL!

My elevation was way off by the way. Due to a stupid mistake that I won’t get into :roll_eyes: I know that it should be much less than what I thought it was at first and the rating would go down significantly, so I am glad that I didn’t use this as my RTL qualification ride anyway. I really need to get a GPS device, which is why on my actual qualifying ride I didn’t include ANY elevation stats towards my rating.

The cold did play a part for sure as far as how many breaks I needed to take. It wasn’t so bad when the sun was out, but once it went down, that cold air really started to take its effect.

Your ride was definitely as epic considering how much night riding you did.

The next “epic” ride I am planning on doing before RTL is going to be all of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park…only 105 miles, but the elevation is ridiculous and I plan on doing it in 2 days and camping in between. I am still debating whether or not to use my coker or my new schlumpf 29 on the ride because I think I climb faster on the coker.

I may also try to do the C&O canal (180 miles) in 2-3 days as part of my RTL training…but this is mostly flat so I am not sure how great of RTL training it will be.

p.s. image updates from the qualifying ride since my gallery is down:

I haven’t done my qualifying ride yet, but in planning it, I’m using Google Earth to map out the elevations. If you download it, you can figure out elevation by checking off the “Terrain” option then putting you mouse over the point you want to know. It’s a simple solution if you don’t have a GPS device to measure altitude.

Best Coast congratulations!

Be a bear or be a grizzly! You’ve met that challenge. Welcome to the next challenge: riding the Lobster.

Best from the right coast of Canada.
As we say here:
Go hard or stay home.


I don’t see any way I can do RTL this year, but I am gearing up for what appears to be the de facto roll-your-own event of the year: the RTL Qualification ride!

These stories are very inspiring. I might have to turn my March long ride into a two day affair.

Good job!

Alternativey draw your route on http://www.mapmyride.com/ which uses Google Maps. You can select show evelation and even download a CVS file including elevation.

Their ascent/descent is conservative, atleast in the UK, as can be seen in the CVS file. If you are on rolling hills rather than mountains it will read low. However if you use a GPS you need to average out the measurement noise or the recorded elevation will be significantly higher than reality.

Alright… that made things easier. :smiley:

I had just plotted some elevation points on my map so far. That site made things way easier. I didn’t really feel like having to calculate all that elevation stuff anytime soon.