Ride The Lobster: Update & Preview Report

Ride the Lobster (RTL)
June 16 to June 20, 2008
Nova Scotia, Canada

Date sent: September 28, 2007

RTL Main Organizer: Edward Wedler
RTL Unicycle Organizers: Nathan Hoover and Andy Cotter
RTL Racing Referee: Constance Cotter
RTL Operations Manager: Meagan Power
RTL Special Events: Heather LeBlanc and Anne Wedler
RTL Route Planners: Nick Cline and John Cranfield

***Ride the Lobster Update
We now have the riders FAQ on the Ride the Lobster website. This email will only have changes to the FAQ or timely information.
Riders FAQ: http://www.ridethelobster.com/faqs/

***Qualifying Ride
Check out the Rider’s FAQ to get all the details of the Qualifying Ride:

Once you finish the qualifying ride make sure you fill out the Qualifying Ride Form:

***Trip to Nova Scotia (written by Nathan Hoover)

The Ride The Lobster organizing team finally got a chance to meet in person over a long weekend Sept 13-17. It was a great time and erased any doubts any of us had about the reality of the event. Everyone listed above (except Connie Cotter) was involved, and in addition, we were joined by Max DeMilner, a unicyclist from Maine whose 32-day unicycle tour was the original inspiration for Edward to conceive Ride The Lobster. Rounding out the group was Darren Bedford of Bedford Unicycles, who will be providing equipment and repairs (and entertainment!) during the race.

Travel to Nova Scotia

The team met in Halifax and drove 160km to Lawrencetown for a meeting with Britech ( http://www.synovacorp.com/britech.asp ), the company providing the GPS devices each team will use as a “baton” during the race. We had a great meeting with the CEO who was very enthusiastic about Ride The Lobster. This is a fantastic partnership with a great company. See the photos to see the size of the device. They will be locked inside convenient carrying cases. It will be possible to do “zero time down” transfers of the baton between two moving riders during the race.

After the meeting we drove 40km to see the Tidal Power station at Annapolis Royal. The Bay of Fundy has the biggest tides in the world (45’/13m) and this power station has been using this to generate power for over 20 years. After a quick tour, we continued another 140km to Yarmouth, the start of the race. We met with town and tourist office officials at the Boston Pizza Restaurant, right where the race will start. Everyone we met there is very excited about having such an event in their town and Yarmouth is a major sponsor. After lunch, we did a photo session in the huge parking lot where we’ll start racing. Then we rode about 2km to downtown for more photos and a look at the wharf. Before the race starts, every single rider will be able to enjoy a relaxed warm-up ride of about 3km around town. This may be the only time we are all riding together and it will be incredible. There was quite a response to just the four of us riding around.

Back on the road, we drove 130km to Annapolis Royal, the end of Stage 1. The route is mostly flat with a few small rolling hills. But once we get to the town, the stage is not over! We take a 50-60km loop out to the Bay of Fundy, and the loop includes a pair of 200m climbs. So everyone except Ken Looi may want to switch out to their hill-climbing cranks for this section.

We stayed at the motel where about half of the racers will stay during the race. There was a reception for the race with dinner and speeches by several local people who are VERY excited to have our event coming, and are planning sponsorship of one kind or another. Afterwards, four of us gave a demo on our unicycles which really opened their eyes. When someone says, “We’re holding an 800km Unicycle Race through your town, are you interested?” people who don’t know about long distance unicycling are a bit puzzled. Seeing us riding around, and then seeing how easily we rode the 2km or so to downtown afterwards gave them a much better picture of what kind of unicycling we are talking about. Maegan, the Operations Manager had a unicycle lesson so now she knows that learning to ride is a little harder than we make it look.

That evening, there was a big Ride The Lobster show at the local theater. There were quite a few speeches; Darren Bedford was our spokesperson and spoke eloquently about how amazed we were at the fantastic reception we received everywhere. The big news announced that night was that the town of Annapolis Royal has decided to become a Stage Sponsor - we were all VERY happy about that. After a multimedia presentation by Edward, we were treated to an hour of stories and photos from The Metal Cowboy who had just completed a bike ride across Canada with his wife and 3 young sons. Check out their website ( http://www.metalcowboy.com/ ). The Cowboy himself is a unicyclist and loved riding a 36er for the first time. He plans to attend the race and may be making an episode of his TV show during it. NovaNewsNow article about the event: http://www.novanewsnow.com/article-139873-Ride-The-Lobster-and-The-Metal-Cowboy.html

The perfect weather of Friday changed to rain, but we had a long schedule of driving without riding planned, so it was ok. After a stop in town at the excellent Farmer’s Market for breakfast, we headed out. First we drove the 50-60km loop that will be the end of Stage 1. Although it was rainy, it was beautiful. A brake might be useful on the last descent back into town. Then we headed back to Halifax, then north to check out the final stage. It was about 600km to the town of St Anns which will be close to the finish of the race. We checked out the route the planners had proposed for Stage 5, but it turned out to be nearly flat and on busy (relatively) roads.

During all this driving, we rotated between the two vehicles, and spent hours discussing the race, getting everyone up to speed.

In the evening, we attended a special “Kitchen Party” put on at the Lobster Galley, specially to promote Ride The Lobster. The staff were all wearing Ride The Lobster shirts and many people were wearing foam lobster hats. Of course we had to too. A Kitchen Party is basically an open-mic jam session, and the local musicians rotated and played some great music. At one point most of us were trying (some more successfully than others) to keep up with the local dancers. After a fantastic lobster meal, we headed upstairs for another presentation. Edward gave the short version of his Ride The Lobster multimedia presentation and The Metal Cowboy once again entertained everyone with comical stories about life on the road.

After the show we had a session with the route planners and worked out a longer and much more interesting route for the final Stage. We sketched it out on the map and resolved to drive it the next morning even though we would have to do it really fast to make it to Halifax in time for the planned photo shoot there.

After breakfast, we drove the alternative Stage 5 route backwards. The route is mostly quiet 2-lane roads with little traffic. There are hilly sections and climbs up to 200m. Quite a bit of the route is super scenic passing lakes and is really out in the country. Stage 5 will be about 210km long, ending in or near Port Hawkesbury. Here it is in GoogleMaps ( http://tinyurl.com/2wxevz ). Due to the longer distance, we will either reduce it or find a way to add additional time - 13 hours instead of the 12 hours planned for all the other days. This route also features a short section (maybe 4km) of gravel road, at one point, climbing up somewhat steeply. This will be a long but excellent day to finish off the race.

From Port Hawkesbury, we left Cape Breton Island and returned to the mainland. Some of us didn’t even realize that most of Nova Scotia isn’t an island! The drive back to Halifax was long but we made it before 5pm, in plenty of time for a photo session at the Boardwalk. As the Time Trial (Stage 3) may end up being in Halifax, we rode a few streets to see how climbing up to the Citadel would be. Organizing a race downtown will be difficult due to the requirement of stopping traffic so we can ride through the lights. Halifax is a gorgeous port city and after a nice climb we had a great view of the harbor. We finished off the day passing out more Ride The Lobster brochures, giving a few more unicycling lessons, and being entertained by Darren making balloon sculptures for many many kids.

In our whirlwind 1700km tour of Nova Scotia, we met so many fantastic people and received the royal treatment everywhere. The people of Nova Scotia seem to love this idea and they are very serious about promoting their beautiful Province. This is going to be an event you can’t miss.

Here is a gallery of photos from the Preview Trip: http://nhoover.smugmug.com/gallery/3495421

Crank length recommendations for non-geared 36" unicycles (for experienced cyclists who think of themselves as liking short cranks)

Stage 1: Yarmouth to Annapolis Royal: 102/110mm
Annapolis Royal loop: 125mm
Stage 2: Unknown, guessing: 110/125mm
Stage 3: Unknown
Stage 4: Unknown, guessing 110/125mm
Stage 5: Whole stage: 125mm

Disclaimer: Crank length is a very personal thing. These lengths are just guidelines. Some people never use as short as 125mm and others never use as long as 125mm. There is no right or wrong crank length.

Great write-up and the pictures were fantastic. It’s nice to see some of the terrain and scenery we can expect.