Uni trip across the USA

Check this guy out, I stumbled across him looking for gear



If only he would’ve had a modern unicycling setup! And he did it on a 24". Wow.

Good read.
Across the US on a Schwinn 24"…wow.

Interesting handle set-up.

Uh, it was 1981. In case anyone thought otherwise, a 24" Schwinn was state of the art. I think he even had cotterless cranks (those were the new kind)! :astonished:

Wally Watts’ ride around the world in the 1970s was done on a handmade big wheel (about 43"). No handles, but he had a seat that looked like a loaf of bread with a spring in the seat post (that was made by someone he met along the way). Miyata unicycles were just starting to show up in the USA in 1981, but there was no way for most people to even know they existed at the time. I got the first one sold at a bike shop in Michigan in early '81, and it was supposedly the floor model at the big bicycle trade show in Chicago or NY just before that!

Just a few years ago there was another guy who rode across the US on a 24" Schwinn. I don’t remember the details, but he was a school teacher from San Francisco. He didn’t find out about the unicycling community and things like Cokers until he was very late in his planning, so he decided to stick with what he had. Unlike Lars Classen, who completely revamped his planned ride when we told him about the Coker.

I meant modern as in now times, i.e 2009. I don’t know if they had them back then, but he didn’t have a brake, which I think most distance riders have now days.

All Hale the Sturdy Schwinn!

I rode my first 24" Schwinn with cottered cranks for a good ten years before I bought…Drum role please…
Another one. This time with cotterless cranks.
I stuck with that one for just a few years before I bought an old 20" Schwinn and cut it up and built me a 27". Yeah, that was cutting edge technology for the late '80s. (pun intended) I rode that one for about five years until it got run over by a car (luckily I got run under). The frame was all bent, but I just took a sledge hammer to it and straightened it out (mostly). Then I rode it for another 7 or 8 years. They’re built like tanks. I’ve still got the remnants of it in the basement. Can’t seem to throw it away.
I know what you’re all thinking, but sorry, it’s not for sale. :roll_eyes:


I love the “rickshaw” setup possibly another approach to handbars for long distance riding? You’d get the benefits of resting your arms and still have an easy way to “eject.” All that aside very inspirational story!

Wow… that’s a cool story. I won one of those old school schwinns at MMUF two years ago… my sister rides it when the desire to go riding comes over her.

I believe that was Patrick Thomas (or was it Thomas Patrick? People should only have one first name ;)), http://pedalthewave.org/

Someday I’d like to ride my muni cross Canada. I don’t even know where to begin (well, one of the coasts ;))

hard to believe

Even though it’s likely true. I like how John Foss knows all this stuff. It is impressive how fast uni gear has advanced. No one thinks long distance on a uni is just nuts now. Or at least we don’t LOL.

I have a lot of experience in motorcycle touring. I avoided interstate type highways, gas was dirt cheap, I just wanted to see stuff.

In my opinion, crossing the USA from west to east is very dull. Based on my memories, there are so many better ideas. Tour through Maine down into Vermont and New Hampshire during Peach season. Keep going down and cut to the coast to follow the fall down the sea coast.

I am sure that a north-south progression, starting in summer and moving south would be the fun way to go. Start in Alaska in June and ride to San Diego, or from Canada to Florida.

I’m not knocking the epic accomplishments of riders who go west-east, I just have personal knowledge of how vast,hot, flat, windswept and unchanging the mediocre west can be. For days at a time on a 65 mph motorcycle.

The middle of the USA, for 1000 ish miles, is flat, hot , and looks like corn

I think the idea of 36 touring is fun. But why pick somewhere hot, shadeless and dull? That must be the plan of anyone who would do the coast to coast. I think passing through north Texas is best, slightly higher elevation, and cooler. Still a crappy place to visit on a motorcycle, and a shadeless wind swept dry chasm for a uni tourer. Yet north or south of north Texas, it’s hotter, flatter dryer and even more dull and monotonous then the crappy dry (even no beer in some places) somewhat interesting stuff you might see riding through north Texas.

Much better, I remember back roads that went on for hundreds of miles in the Carolinas, more or less. Big oak trees covered with moss and all sorts of stuff to see that was not corn. Shade, coastline, cool old towns and even more stuff that is not corn or windy emptiness.

On future motorcycle tours I will of course be thinking about what it would be like to ride here on a 36. Retroactive, I can tell you for sure that most of the middle of the USA is to sunny flat monotonous etc. Definitely plan any epic type long tour to go north-south with the season. The land will turn it’s bounty to you , tilled by times plow.:wink:

The Transamerica bike route (Adventure Cycling Association has the maps) minimizes the monotony. It starts north, then goes along the Continental Divide from Montana to Colorado. You do have to deal with Kansas and Missouri.

ACA’s Lewis and Clark route has some potential; it stays north into North Dakota, then drops down along the Missouri River through South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri. You could hook that up with the Transamerica in southern Illinois and through Kentucky.

One thing about bicycling that’s not true of motorcycling or unicycling, is that sometimes it’s nice to have a day where you just hammer out miles. Get a little tailwind and you don’t care about miles and miles of corn; you get in the big ring and fly. That doesn’t happen on a uni, which is part of why uni touring doesn’t appeal to me.

wow this guy is crazy.

It’s easy to tell how old that picture is.
Just look at the SIZE of his mp3 player !!

mp3 player, lol

Hey it still looks smaller than the old converted car decks with the 12 volt battery belt. Still not exactly a nano.

I came across this story a few years ago, when I wanted to organize the LA unicycle roundups. I clicked on the link at the bottom for email and it actually went through to him. I told him about my plans to organize a uni get together in LA, and he said that while he enjoyed riding the unicyle, it was great time in his life, but he had moved on from unicycling. He kept the webpage up just to share the odyssey.


lol yeah, you could fit a whole TAPE cassette in that thing, :astonished: