Ultra Tall Unicycles

Steve McPeak rode his 101 foot, 9 inch unicycle in 1980 on a TV show called
“Daredevils.” I have a video of this which I obtained from Al Hemminger. This
unicycle had a rectangular cross section frame, was made of steel, and was
reported to weigh 1400 pounds. He rode it in a circle around his support crane,
so the crane could stay with him. That’s why a giant circle was painted on the
ground, so he could stay on track and in line with the huge crane.

As a rider of unicycles and teacher of other circus skills, do I think he was
supported by the crane? He sure was. He was strapped onto his seat, and the
crane was attached to the unicycle at a high and low point along the back of the
frame. This line was kept relatively tight as he rode, so the thing couldn’t
fall far if control was lost. Steve pedaled it himself.

How do you steer a 1400 lb unicycle? two guys walked along behind it, holding
ropes which were attached on each side, to keep the steering on track, and
possibly to keep the wheel from getting away if Steve came off the pedals. He
used full toe clips. The two guys did all the steering.

As Steve rode, he issued instructions to the crand operator, though not in so
many words “I feel loose” he would say, while grabbing his handlebar (yes,
handlebar), then “Ok” and letting go again. When the camera angle was from
above, looking down the length of the unicycle, it was fairly clear to me that
the uni. was leaning forward slightly, and the crane operator was maintaining
constant tension on the line. Thus, the unicycle was being held up the entire
time he rode it.

In any case, he’s still in the Guinness Book, and will probably stay there until
someone rides something higher with full safety equipment, which will cost a
bloody fortune (don’t know if “bloody” is acceptable internet language; sorry).

I have a 1981 clipping from the GLOBE about a guy (I can’t find the clipping
now) who rode a 35 foot unicycle at Giant Statium in New Jersey and
subsequently fell off because he had never tried it on astroturf before. This
guy was obviously really brilliant and is the source of Guinness’ rule about
safety equipment for tall unicycles. He broke lots of bones in the fall, which
was not his first. I never wrote about this in the newsletters, because I
didn’t like our emphasis to be on getting hurt and breaking bones. I leave that
to Kurt Morgan.

John Foss, President International Unicycling Federation unifoss@cerfnet.com
voice: (516)731-7613

Re: Ultra Tall Unicycles

I’ve know Steve McPeak for years – he stayed in my house and I saw his 101
footer in Vegas. He told me that he plans to build an extension to double the
height of his 101 footer. But then again, Steve said many things that never
happened …

I’ve also heard rumors that Sem Abrahams or his father are now working on a tall
one to beat the current record. Sem was in Japan some years ago when I arranged
for his ride on the 21-meter unicycle, which was then the world record. He and
his father told me a couple of times about plans to build a 100 meter unicycle,
if my ears served me right.

If they’re really going to do that, maybe somebody should get Sem to ride during
the opening ceremonies of UNICON VIII in Germany! What better way to get
attention, eh?

Enough of my Sunday morning rambling …

Jack Halpern IUF vice president and (sigh) former president

BTW, what is the correct way to post something? “unicycling@mcs.kent.edu” or
“MAILER-DAEMON@mcs.kent.edu”? I wonder if this one arrived …

Re: Ultra Tall Unicycles

>BTW, what is the correct way to post something? “unicycling@mcs.kent.edu” or
>“MAILER-DAEMON@mcs.kent.edu”? I wonder if this one arrived …

    MAILER-DAEMON is definitely not right! "unicycling@mcs.kent.edu" should
    be correct.

    Looking at John Foss' message that was coded "From: MAILER-DAEMON", I
    see that the host subfield in the Message-ID: is null. I suspect an
    email configuration problem on the host John used to send his message,
    causing his message to "unicycling" to arrive at

MCS.KENT.EDU without a “From:” field or with a damaged “From:” field. In a fit
of responsibility, the MCS.KENT.EDU mailer daemon may have inserted its own
email address to ensure that the outgoing message met the applicable
Internet standards.

                                    Craig Milo Rogers