Yesterday I completed a new milestone on the Coker,
a metric century of 62 miles. The Clarksville Labor
Day Weekend Classic in Tennessee is billed as one of
the flattest century rides in the country.
A lot of bicylists use this as their first 100 mile
century ride, my brother was one of them. Kudos to
At first I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do this
ride on a unicycle or even if I’d be able to. My
Miyata air saddle has been shipped to David Stockton
who’s fitting it on a new frame from Hunter Cycles.
On the day before the ride, I took the Viscount
saddle off my 24" trainer, trimmed down the seatpost
with a pipe cutter, and took it out for a brief 4 mile
ride. Everything seemed to be okay, though I probably
should have put in a shim on the seatpost.
On the morning of the ride, I left about 20 minutes
before the official start so as not to get tangled
up in the mass start. I was also worried about my
speed, since the SAG vehicles would pick up any
stragglers at 4:30 pm, and figured an early start
would give me an extra margin of safety.
About 2 miles into the ride, the 62 mile and 100 mile
courses diverged. After 40 minutes of riding I started
getting passed by people riding the metric century.
It was fun being out on the road with other riders
who would whoop and holler as they passed. By the
time I’d arrived at the first rest stop (15 miles)
I was still ahead of some of the slower metric
riders. I arrived at the rest stop about 2 hours
after I’d started, without a single dismount. This
would be my longest continuous riding for the day.
Thereafter, I would be forced to dismount about
every half hour to relieve myself of saddle pressure.
I didn’t have a cyclocomputer on the Coker, but I
could estimate my distance by checking my watch.
I was probably averaging slightly over 8 miles an
hour. After the third hour, the traffic from the
metric riders had mostly passed me by, including
some children on mountain bikes. I would often
push down on the nose of the saddle with my
left hand, stand up and balance on the pedals to
relieve saddle pressure. This slowed my progress
and was tiring on the quads, but kept me going
After 4 hours into the ride a yellow VW beatle SAG
vehicle pulled up and warned me that there was a fast
paceline approaching. It was the lead group in the
100 mile ride, perhaps 25-30 riders strong. Soon
afterwards, I rode into the second rest stop
at mile 31, near the Jefferson Davis monument.
(Why a monument to Jefferson Davis in Kentucky
which fought on both sides?) The 31 mile halfway
point to the metric ride was the 70 mile point for
the century riders, and I got the chance to see many
of my friends in the Harpeth Bike Club riders there.
I pulled out of the second rest area feeling pretty
strong, but knew the next section would take its
toll. My initial plan was to stay on the unicycle
for 30 minutes, then take a 1 minute break to
relieve the saddle pain. So I was constantly
watching my wristwatch, waiting for the blessed
break time. Occassionally I’d cheat and dismount
after 20 minutes. Additionally I was having some
minor problems with the saddle twisting whenever
I’d apply too much torque. I was regretting not
taking the time to shim the seatpost.
On my other saddle I’ve got GB handlebars which
help (a little) to get some relief while riding.
I’m not sure how much this would help for longer
distances, but I’ve got to find some solution for
long rides. I also took some Ibuprofen, which
is pretty rare for me.
After leaving the second rest stop, the next one
would be at mile 49. On my bicycle, I’d normally
pooh-pooh these short distance rest stops, but in my
present transportation mode I welcomed them. For
the remainder of the ride I would be passed by the
slower 100 mile riders. It was great to hear their
encouragement, and it kept me going when all I wanted
to do was get off the stupid unicycle. Several times
someone would whip out their camera and say “I’ve got
to get a picture of this.” Even a few cars not
associated with the ride would slow down and yell
out “Totally awesome!”.
One advantage (the only advantage?) with traveling
at such a slow speed is that I never missed any of
the road markings. At one point I yelled at some
riders who missed a turn and redirected them to the
route. At another I yelled but the riders were too
far ahead to hear me. I later heard one of them
exclaim as we met at the last rest stop, “I’ve already
done my 100 miles!”
The toughest part of the ride was the last few miles
into the third and last rest stop. We encountered
some brief rain, which wasn’t unexpected and actually
somewhat refreshing. The overcast day had kept the
worst of the heat from scorching us.
I had miscalculated the time/distance and thought I
had another half hour until the last rest stop. It
was somewhat discouraging. Then the rest stop appeared
as an unexpected surprise. I talked with a few riders
including two of my brother’s riding buddies, Kenny and
Jim. They told me David was only a few miles behind.
Leaving the last rest stop, I was feeling confident
that I’d finish the ride, with only 13 miles to go.
It helped that there was a continuous stream of
riders still on route. Interestingly, most people
were curious as to the difficulty of climbing the
hills, (what hills?) which were the least of my problems.
Saddle comfort is the only killer issue. I wonder if
(like bicycling) saddle comfort will increase with
training? I hope so.
Soon after I left the last rest stop, perhaps 10 miles
from the finish, my brother passed me. He was looking
in pretty good shape and said he only hit a rough
patch between miles 60 and 70. He would have enough
time to shower and get back out and take some photos
of my arrival.
I arrived about an hour later, still ahead of a very
few scattered 100-mile riders. My finish time was
under 8 hours. On the way home we stopped and ate
dinner with some friends from the Harpeth Bike Club,
always a pleasant way to end any kind of ride.