Notes on an 80-mile ride

Yesterday (9/9/01) I rode my Coker in the Century Ride, hosted by
Transportation Alternatives ( This annual tour of NYC is
structured so that riders can go 35, 55, 75, or 100 miles, depending on
start time and route taken. I was the only one on a unicycle.

I’d hoped to go the full 100 miles but woke up 2 1/2 hours later than I
meant to and almost quit before I’d started. But then I realized I could
ride to the Brooklyn Bridge catch up with the other riders once I got
there. This plan worked so well, I wish I’d planned it that way. When I
arrived at the bridge, I’d gone almost the exact same distance as the
others (7.0 miles). We crossed into Brooklyn and headed for Prospect
Park’s beautiful antique carousel, where we had the first rest stop (about
14mi into the ride). Next we rode around the outskirts of Brooklyn, and I
got temporarily lost and went 1 1/2 miles out of my way but quickly
rejoined the pack. It was neat that most bikers could not keep up with my
pace (I averaged 12mph for the whole day). I passed most of them on the
uphills (even the ones that weren’t so steep), and they passed me on the
downhills, but for the last 50 miles, I saw the same people over and over.

After Brooklyn, we rode into Queens, and after touring this borough, we
had to choose whether to go the full 100 miles or to jump ship and head
for home. I had enough stamina to get thru the Bronx but chose not to
because it was getting late (4pm) and I wanted to attend a party honoring
my in-laws’ 53rd wedding anniversary. OK, and I was pretty tired, too. And
I heard that the last leg (thru the Bronx) is really hilly. I’d had enough
of hills. I headed back to Manhattan and completed mile 80 on my way back
to my mother’s.

Notes on the ride: There was a point about 45mi into the ride where I
could not slow myself on a fairly short but moderately steep hill. I just
went with gravity and hoped that no one suddenly walked in front of me. I
hit about 20mph at this point. My fastest believable speed recorded was
20.6mph achieved on a straight road with a slight downhill slope. The
computer later recorded a 25.9, but this does not gibe with my memory of
the ride, so I assume it was an erroneous speed. I acknowledge that there
are some folks who can get their Cokers up to 25mph and more…I’m just
not one of them. Rest stops were frequent enough for most bikers, but I
needed to stop more often than once every 15-20 miles because my right
pinky toe kept going numb or hurting terribly. I borrowed my brother’s
Coker (with the extention but without the brake), and I think I still like
my type of air seat better (Roach) than his (Viscount). The extention was
wonderful: There is a trick John taught me where you push against the
extention ‘handle’ such as to relieve pressure on your seat area, and this
was a big help when I did it. Towards the end, I had to rest about every
2-3 miles until I found a really comfortable sitting position and was able
to ride the last 10-15 miles without pain or numbness. I reapplied suntan
lotion at each stop but still got a bit of a tan. I brought but had no use
for some ‘cyclist lubricant.’ I borrowed my brother’s CamelBak with a
capacity of about 2 1/2 liters. I filled it with Gatorade initially and
then added water most of the day at rest stops. In all I drank on the
order of 10 liters over the 8 hours it took me to complete the ride; at
one point I actually ran out between stops but was near enough to the next
one that I didn’t need to buy more. I sweated so much during the ride that
I made only 3 trips to the loo. Food was a bit of a trouble. I got up too
late to have breakfast and instead munch on a Clif Bar at 7:30 or so. At
various points thruout the day, I ate something like 4 more protein bars.
I always felt more energetic afterwards, but there was a price to pay.
Let’s just say that if my unicycle had been gas-powered, I could have
finished the last 30 miles of the ride without pedaling once. For some
reason, I felt like I had more energy as the ride wore on. I was really
sluggish when I first hit the road at 7:15 or so (I was extremely out of
it and a bit tired and unmotivated), but I got a huge surge of energy when
I met up with the ride at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. I got lost that
one time because I was unaware then that the road was marked by painted Cs
with arrows telling us which way to go. Sometimes the Cs were so
infrequent (because there was no change of direction) that I thought I was
lost. Then I would spot that C and feel a little surge of adrenaline.
Those Cs made me very happy. At one point during a break, my back felt
compressed, so I wrapped my arms around the bench I was sitting on and
leaned back to crack my back. It sounded like someone tap dancing on
bubble wrap while wearing clogs…but it felt fantastic. I guess that
spinal compression is one problem we face on long rides. I rode many miles
of the ride without any cyclists nearby – only about 3,000 started the
race, and few of them were going 75 or 100 miles. Those who were going the
long routes generally started earlier than I did (apparently they didn’t
oversleep), so by the time I got to the rest stop at mile 52, there were
only a few dozen riders there at all (and not many behind us, apparently).
Almost no one was at the 72nd mile rest stop. My least favorite part of
the ride: Those moments riding over bridges with low handrails where I
know that if I fell the wrong way, I could easily tumble into traffic on
one side or off a high bridge on the other. There were at least three such
spots. My favorite part of the trip: Encouragement from all the cyclists
and from the folks we passed. I didn’t get too far without someone
yelling, “Way to go!” or the equivalent. It really helped. I also loved
that stop at the Prospect Park Carousel! Final note:Ths afternoon I rode
to work and back at top speed, a total of 22 miles, and I felt fine.

David Stone Co-founder, Unatics of NY 1st Sunday / 3rd Saturday
2:30 @ Central Park Bandshell


Thanks for posting your experiences on the ride. I greatly enjoyed all of it. I don’t know if I will ever get on a Coker, but experiences like yours on the forums page help round out the the information that can be gathered from all the unicyclists out there. I always learn so much. :slight_smile:


Anyone that rides aunicycle 80 miles or more in one day is awsome.

I have ridden plenty of 200 mile rides on a bike in one day and consider 100 miles on one wheel about the same as far as difficulty. I know this because I attempted 100 miles on a unicycle the other day at a local Salt Lake City century. I completed 75. I did not stop because of a sore butt. I stopped because of over-all fatigue. Simply put, completing a century on a wheel takes a good amount of fitness.

I have a lot of respect for those involved in multiday tours covering long distances day after day.

P.S. Where is the spell check on this thing?