Unicycling 160km (100miles) around Lake $#@!&@

Ok, that’s Lake Taupo . A rather large lake in the middle of New Zealand. Every year thousands of crazy cyclists pedal their way around this lake. There were over 9000 cyclists in this years event, including two unicycle teams and a soloist (me :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

The teams:

Team Unicycle.co.nz (80km each)
Peter Bier
Tony Melton

Team Unicycle NZ: Less is more (40km each)
Steve Pavarno
Malcolm Todd
Geoff Leyland
Steve Taylor

Team Ken Looi (160km each)
ie gizmoduck…ahem ( :roll_eyes: )

I used a stock standard Deluxe Coker with KH seat, Snafu pedals and 125mm cranks. The teams used a mix of 29’er’s with 125mm cranks and Cokers. As far as I am aware, there are four Cokers in the country and they were all at this event!

The race:
The unicycle household rudely awakens to the sound of somebody’s bleeping alarm. :o
How long does it take to get fuelled up for a major endurance event? Not long if the if you’re a unicyclist! After gobbling enormous mountains of muesli, showering, shaving and stuffing our camelbaks full of slime gels + energy bars we hit the road at 5.30am.

We arrive at the Lake Taupo event venue. Not surprisingly we are the only people there apart from the organisers. The two teams click off the timer chip at 6.00am, two hours prior to the main group of starters at 8am (soloists) and 9am (teams). Peter and Steve P are the first riders for their teams. I decide it’s far too early to be out of bed, let alone riding 160km without a dose of caffeine in the system.

Tony and Geoff load their Uni’s on the trucks. Interesting as the crossbars are not designed to accept unicycles.

We start our caffeine loading at one of the local cafes. Unfortunately Tony gets a decaf mocha by accident :angry: . They apologised and gave him his proper espresso. Hmmm…can’t let all that coffee go to waste, even if it is decaf. We sit in the sun pondering what Peter and Steve are talking about as they crank up the first hill of the day. Tony drinks almost a litre of coffee.

Race start for me. I never realised how big this event was until race start. There were so many cyclists that we started in waves. It took a full half hour before I click off the start line.

I’m off! There is a short 1km down hill before the first major climb of the day. Road cyclists whizzing past me on either side soon ended up crunching on their gears as they hit the first major climb.

I couldn’t believe my luck- the climb was a perfect Coker gradient! I sped past several hundred roadies up the climb much to their dismay :(. Ding-ding-ding Bells are great fun when you’re passing bicyclists on a unicycle. I kept telling myself to slow down (there was another 155km to go) but while there were so many cyclists to overtake I had keep up the pace :stuck_out_tongue:

We hit the flat and I got a taste of bunch riding- I don’t know if there is much drafting effect but the bunch certainly towes you along psychologically. We were averaging 25km/h on the flat (according to one someone elses cycle computer). There were a few more big downhills and hillclimbs during that initial 20km leg.

At the 20km mark I pick up a drink at the drink station but keep on going without stopping.

My legs start seizing up shortly after. Racing up those hills at full speed sure was silly :roll_eyes: . The next 20km’s are a bit of a struggle as I ease off the pace hoping to work the lactate from my system. I was one happy unicyclist when I hit the 40km mark in under 2hours. I stopped for a stretch, let blood recirculate my crotch and refill my camelbak. When it’s time to get back on, my legs were so stiff I needed a helpful shoulder to climb back on the Coker.

The next 40km were a bit of a blur. I remember picking an energy bar off the road and eating it. (It was still in it’s wrapper- I’m not that desperate). Only had another three energy bars for 100km. I brought four slime gels along but managed not to eat any (yuck).

The 80km mark at the top of a big hill was WONDERFUL! I was under the 4hr mark and on track for a 20km/h average speed.

The following descent was one of the most fun unicycle descents I had ever done. Super fast downhill with wide roads and sweeping corners. It just kept going and going and going…until we hit the bottom and one of the longest climbs of the day loomed ahead. My stomach was getting sick of sweet energy bars at that point so I stopped at the cafe for a steak and cheese pie and ginger beer. Perhaps riding 90km dullens the senses, but that was the best meat pie I’d ever had.

Rejuvanated, I head off up the climb which was at another perfect unicycle gradient. I pass quite a few cyclists but take care not to blow up this time.

There was another cool downhill back to the lake before we hit the flat section. 40km of flat riding is great for working the stiffness out of sore legs. I felt so good after those 40km I was almost looking forward to the Hatepe Hill.
The final major hillclimb, Hatepe Hill is not particularly steep, but after 140km of riding it reduces many to walking their bikes. Regretfully I cramp half way up the Hatepe Hill and had to stop for a stretch :frowning:

Over the Hatepe we had yet another 25-30km/h downhill section. My legs just kept spinning like they were out of control- a very interesting sensation. I pass Steve Taylor on the flat just before we reach Taupo.

I limp into Taupo after 160km / 100miles on my unicycle in 8hrs20min.
‘Team unicycle.co.nz’ comes in at 9hrs49min, ‘Team Unicycle NZ: Less Is More’ comes in at 10hrs30min.

Results are up on:
Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

Our photos will be up shortly. If anyone is considering coming to NZ to do an event, I would really recommend this one- it had such a cool atmosphere and the course is fantastic. We’ll be back next year!

Sounds cool - great report too!

Looking forward to seeing the pics! :slight_smile:


Re: Unicycling 160km (100miles) around Lake $#@!&@

WOW!! Really impressive ride, and nice writeup too!

I’d love to do this race but I’ve got a couple of years of skill building first. I’ve never been to NZ and this sounds like the perfect reason to go.

I’ve had this sensation on “death rides,” where the training plan was to ride hard until I couldn’t ride anymore, then turn around and go home. When I felt the way you describe my muscles became much more efficient at cycling. I think my nervous system got a little bit plastic and eliminated wasted motions while reinforcing useful ones. The effect was semi-permanent. By the next season the hyper-specialization was gone and I was back to having ordinary human muscles that do a wide variety of things reasonably well.

Sounds like a great ride. Your results are impressive!

Did the relay team riders do their 1/2 or 1/4 all at once or did they break it up into shorter multiple sections?

One of my goals for next year is to train my legs and seat enough to ride around Lake Washington, approx. 60 mi/100k, in one day.

Way to go all you guys, especially Ken!! Fantastic. Can’t wait to see the photos.

Re: Unicycling 160km (100miles) around Lake $#@!&@

100% Coker turnout!
Amazing results! Sounds like a great time.


Amazing. Absobloominglutely amazing. Absobloominglutely Abloomingmazing!

Riding 100 miles in 8 hours 20 minutes is really really good. That’s an average of 12 mph which includes the time for stops and rests and eating. Very impressive.

this year a will go on my unicycle to the EJC. Thats 300 km from my house. It will probably takes 5 days or more because we ride on a 20 inch unicycle.



thank you:D .
If it goes very well, I will buy a 28 inch unicycle and I start a training program, ask the Dutch Guinnes Book of Record. Ask my dad for folowing my adventure with a car, and I go for the EJC 2005. That is than in Slovnie. Around 1200 km or more :thinking:


You keep blood in your camelbak :astonished: I knew you had to have supernatural help to ride like that.

How was the ride for the guys on 29ers?
I’m thinking of joining some 30-50Km rides on my 29er this summer, and I’d like to hear how a ride like that is for someone for someone who doesn’t have superhuman strength to go 160K in a day.

There was a person who ride 279,874 km in just one day. This was during a 24 h record. For each hour he rode, he got 5 minutes for a break. He was also allowed to save the time for the brakes. His cranks where: 130 mm and his wheel size was 26 inch. He did dis record in oktober 1991. He started at 16:00 h and ended the next day on `16:00. He had just 2 hours in total for take a break in this record.


Note to Americans - European punctuation for numbers uses a comma instead of period to mark the decimal place. So the record is almost 280 km, or about 173.9 miles.

You don’t have to ride at 7,900 mph to equal this record. 7.9 mph for 22 hours will do nicely.

Still pretty impressive, though…

Wow, that’s an impressive distance. That’s 173.8 miles in 24 hours or an average of 7.24mph (7.9 mph for just the 22 hours of riding). Who was this rider? And I wish s/he could have another chance with a larger wheel and/or shorter cranks.


English uses a period, so I was as amazed as you lot… :slight_smile:


Just to get back OT - WOW!!! :astonished: :astonished: :astonished: :astonished:

… and a great write-up too. As close as I’ll get to experiencing such a superhuman effort… until I get in shape… OK, so, ever…


Thanks everyone! We all had a really awesome time. A Century is definitely something worth doing at least once in your unicycle career!

Cyberbellum, come on down to NZ- we’d love to have you!

Unibrier: the two teams both set off early at 6am and rode it relay style. They each did their entire 40km and 80km legs all at once. I don’t think their timer chip set off the start timer though, they started before the recording equipment was set up properly. I started at 8.30am with all the regular solo cyclists.

eenwieler: You must have legs of steel. Good luck. I thought the 24hr road record is somewhere around 320km though. I remember a post not long ago that mentioned this. If you come to NZ for this race there is the option of riding twice around the lake or almost three times around the lake in the 320km and 500km enduro challenges. The 320km/24hrs should easily be doable on a Coker.

Borges: I can’t speak for the 29’er guys- I was hoping they would have posted by now. Geoff and the two Steves used 29’ers. A 29’er is probably undergeared for most of this race, even the hill sections. I’ve ridden my 29’er in a couple of 50km+ MTB races and loved it. It feels pretty slow on the road though. And you have to concentrate a little harder as it feels quite twitchy at high rev’s.

Greg Harper: If you’re reading this I want your hub for next years event :stuck_out_tongue:
Will a production version be ready then?



My photos are up:


Unfortunately there is a limited selection at the moment- I only took pics before the event and after regaining conciousness the next day. Some of the other riders might be adding their pics to the album shortly.

Ken :slight_smile:

Speak for yourself! I think I would prefer to spend less hours in the saddle. Don’t you get chafed? By the way your link is broken, unless you have already viewed the album already (it takes you to the last album viewed). Try this album link instead. Congratulations on completing the ride Ken, maybe I will join you next year if I get rich and buy myself a Coker.