Several months ago I realized there was no point in delaying the Coker purchase until I was a better rider. I figured I may as well become a better rider on the Coker…So I set a goal: research the components, order, assemble, and learn how to ride it for a month in preparation for Chicago’s “Bike the Drive” event. I did everything except time it well enough to get that month of preparation.
On Friday my frame showed up from Bedford Unicycles - Black with yellow frames, and mounts for an eventual brake set-up. That was the last piece. I asked my wife and kids to go on to Chicago without me, so I could take a few hours to put the thing together after work. I figured the odds of actually just being able to hop on and ride were about nil, but I figured it was worth a couple of hours of work and having a second car in Chicago to take the chance.
I know it’s been said many times, but reading about Cokers does not prepare one for the first actual meeting, that wheel seems shockingly enormous at first. I was so intimidated, I just threw it on the car for my trip to Chicago. I figured if I’d tried it, I’d hurt myself and miss the holiday trip altogether.
So after staring at the ceiling fan in our host’s guest bedroom all night - all the while thinking about how that wheel in my car was even bigger than the fan - I took the Coker out in the backyard to try it. I just couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t get the wheel rolling through the grass. Just before I officially gave up hope on my desire to cruise Lakeshore Drive with 20,000 cyclists, I thought I’d give it a go on pavement. Well the 10 minutes on the grass had taught me how to dismount, so I just relaxed, and gave it a launch off the step of the front porch. Went right down the driveway - and around the block - officially a Cokeur!
So made it down for a 3 mile cruise alond Chicago’s lakeshore late Saturday evening, and woke up early for the “Bike the Drive” on Sunday. What a blast! They close Lakeshore Drive for 20K cyclists to ride 15 or 30 miles - from downtown north and back, or south and back, or both. I went from the harbor we stayed in to the event start and North about 1/2 the route and came back - 8 or 9 miles in all. Everyone loved seeing a unicyclist out there. The bikes were really supportive. This is a real family event - it was cool to be recognized by kids, athletes, the event volunteers, etc.
It took me a long time to get started - it was tough to find a tall enough guard rail, sign, or light post where I needed it. I tended to ride about 2 miles between dismounts. I was having a ball, but I felt like I was fighting for balance the whole time Sunday - Saturday had actually been smoother. I don’t know if the road was slanted or if my seat was twisted a little bit - I look forward to getting the kinks out - and learning enough to optimize the seat angle, air pressure, etc. I loved the uphills, and dreaded the downhills - I guess I’ll have to learn to let the wheel roll without fighting it so much on the down slopes…
The funniest part of the day was answering all of the “Wow, how long have you been doing that?” questions. I truthfully said, “Anyone can do it, I just started yesterday!” The event’s film crew interviewed me - probably internal use, maybe the local cable TV not sure…
Looking forward to many more miles,