Unicycling for Afghani Kids- 2008 Austalian tour

Hi everyone,

In two weeks i will start a month long unicycle tour from the Afghani embassy here in Canberra, down the New South Wales south coast, through Melbourne and along the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide (2000 km over 4 weeks)

I am raising money for the AMMCC. The AMMCC is a not for profit Non Government Organization working in Afghanistan since 2002. It runs a primary school in Kabul for 350 students and uses the medium of circus arts and theatre to teach about health safety and tolerance as part of its sports curriculum. It also organizes week long workshops in the rural provinces in an attempt to restart education programs for kids. See www.afghanmmcc.org/ for more information on the programs that the AMMCC offers.

For the first 10 days i will have a support car, but after that the trip will be totally self supported. I am riding a Nimbus 36" with t7 and airfoil (125mm cranks) and will be carrying everything in a 60L hiking backpack. I am still looking for some advice as to the best set up for this type of self supported trip- so any tips from people who have had a crack at the self supported touring would be greatly appreciated).

If you would like to donate, i ask that you use the AMMCCs online donation page-link Afghan MMCC and then send me a copy of the electronic reciept so i can keep track of how well things are going.

On the morning of the 20th of June, i will be having a farewell morning tea from the Embassy in Canberra. Any unicyclists or people who are interested are most welcome to come and see me off, or even ride the first part of the trip with me.

I was inspired to undertake this tour after reading about Zach Warren working in Afghanistan with the AMMCC on these forums in this thread

I also hope to go to Afghanistan at the beginning of next year to spend 6 months volunteering with the group.

I think that is about it, i will most likely be using this thread to blog the trip and post photos when i get the chance to be on the internet- i may also link to it from other internet sites so please keep it civil so outsiders don’t get the wrong idea about this fantastic community.

Join the facebook group if your into that kind of thing- the name is: ‘Marks unicycle tour for afghani children 2008 tour’

Also, A huge thankyou to unicycle.com.au who gave me a fantastic deal on this uni at the end of last year. They were very generous in their support for this trip in its early inception and it has been great to put in lots of km’s on it in the lead up to this event.

Mark Lavis

Looks like a great trip.

Do you need to camp, or have you got places to stay? That makes a really big difference to this. If at all possible to do it without camping then that is a real advantage from the gear point of view. As it’s for charity, places like churches / random village halls might be cool with you putting a sleeping bag down on their floor. If you do have to camp, I’d either take a very lightweight 1 man tent, or some kind of bivvi bag or tarp shelter.

I’d recommend taking the absolute minimum stuff - for example don’t take more than one spare change of clothes at most, and wash it in sinks/streams/rivers when you get a chance. On a trip like this you’ll be spending most of the time riding - it’s much more important to riding comfort to have as little weight to carry as possible than to not smell bad. Have you been training with the rucksack you’re going to use - it’s important to get some training in with the load you’re intending to carry, as it makes such a big difference. Use the smallest rucksack you can get away with - 60L sounds like quite a big sack, using a big rucksack tends to mean that you carry too much gear - I know of a few people who’ve had to give up on tours because they took too much gear.

There is a thread on here somewhere about lightweight touring, which has loads of useful tips in, worth searching for that.


Good luck, Mark. This is a fine thing you’re doing.

Hey Mark,

Sounds like an awesome ride.

I’m in Dubbo, are you heading out this way anytime? Look me up.


60L is rather large, I would say that if what you are bringing can’t fit in a 35-40L bag then you are bringing too much. I had done a lot of planning for a self supported tour, but messed up my knee within the first 15 miles and I believe that this primarily had to do with the weight I had attached to the unicycle. However, it could have just as well had to do with the weight on my back (18 pounds). If you will be camping, you will need to bring all light weight gear. My set up was to bring a tarp(<1 pound) and some light rope for guy lines, a light weight foam pad(<1 pound) and a lightweight (for synthetic) sleeping bag (< 2 pounds).

Thanks for the advice. I am approaching some camping stores today to get the rest of my equipment and will keep your advice in mind. I am using a 60L pack, but the beauty of it is that it packs down to a much smaller size with compression straps, and it has a really nice harness system that i am used to. I think that in the first 10 days i will be trying to find the sweet spot for equipment/weight and then after that will hopefully be comfortable with it for the rest of the ride.

I am going to buy a one man tent for the trip, i predict there will be some national park, side of the road, peoples backyard camping going on so it is a nessesity.

I’ll let you know how everything goes with getting kitted up, pack size/weight etc in a few days.


Wow thats a great thing your doing! I wish I could participate in something of this level. Perhaps when im a bit older and have a Coker ill go on a tour or something along these lines. Great work :slight_smile:

Good luck. Sounds awesome.

I would have loved to join you for a bit (I’m in Melbourne btw) but I’ll be overseas from the 20th-30th. You’d have passed Melbourne by then, right?

A couple of questions:
Have you or going to get in touch with the media?
Why Canberra to Adelaide? Just wondering :slight_smile:

And please post details regarding the gear you’ll be taking along. I’m planning something along similar lines for next year.

Take care,

I’m in for a donation, and will always support that kind of unicycling commitment to a cause.

I love that map image you posted. Maybe you’ve already thought of it, but if not, here’s an idea: Do some sort of a ride every year, for whatever cause you want to promote at the time, and pick up always where your “red line” left off the year before. How many years do you think it would take you to complete that red line all the way around the continent? I’m betting if someone was to start that quest at age 20, they just might get it done. And wouldn’t that be something…?

Can’t make it this year, but I could see a year in the future when I’d pedal some of those miles with you.

Sounds great.

Good luck Mark! Sounds like an epic tour if ever I heard of one! Do you go thru Woolongong? I know some uni-friendly people there who may be able to put you up for a night.

My 2c worth is try and take the absolute minimum of gear, especially if you value your knees. There is a saying that I read in a cycle touring book - however big your pannier/bag/pack is it will get filled. Therefore its better to use the smallest pack you practically can.

The tent may be more of a necessity in AUS than over here (I really don’t know what kind of wildlife you can encounter there), but if you are looking to cut off 3-4 pounds from your pack than you should seriously consider a bivvy sack or a simple tarp.

I also agree with Tony that if your bag is large, you will end up fitting more things in there that you don’t need. Also, bag height is an issue sometimes. I made sure to try on a lot of different packs before I settled on the 35L north face pack I bought for my tour. If you have a high pack than it will cause you neck problems while riding and it gets annoying.

Thanks everyone for your advice and support and donations (you know who you are so give yourself a pat on the back!)

I have decided to go with a bivvy bag that has a one pole system to keep it off your face- it was much lighter and packs smaller than all the other tent systems i could find- also means i can chuck in a tiny sleeping mat and still be better off than a tent!

I have been experimenting with the issue of bag height over the last few days- filling the bag with water bladders and packing to varying degrees and trying a small loop around my neighborhood. I think i have found what is the comfortable maximum for my pack and will keep it at or under that level- for the first week i have some breathing space because my friend is comming along in his car so i can always adjust it if i need to.

As for media- i am getting in touch with the local canberra paper as well as my university newspaper to invite them to my leaving shin dig from the embassy on the morning of the 20th- and if i’m lucky WIN news might make an appearance as well. Also, i have a friend who knows some people who work for the Sunrise morning TV program- if everything goes well they might do a running story on my trip as it unfolds. I have a list of local papers in the areas i will be going through and hope to meet up with some journalists on the road so they can cover my story as well.

Tomblackwood- I hadn’t thought of what you suggested but it is giving me ideas… There would be some issues with travelling the west coast of Australia unsupported- the distances between towns is just too great i think. But you never know- with a support car it could be an amazing ride.

Why Canberra to Adelaide? Umm, well i am studying in Canberra so it was the logical starting spot just for pure convienience. I didn’t want to just ride to Melbourne because an Australian actor rode from Sydney to Melbourne for charity a few years ago, i at least have to up the ante on what he did! I wanted to fit a trip around Tasmania in my tour but my holidays were just not long enough. So with that out of the question, I figured once i was near Melbourne i would be crazy to not push on to the Great ocean road and perhaps some of the most spectacular coastline in Australia. So thats how my thinking resulted in Canberra-Melbourne-Adelaide.

Denali- I should be near Melbourne around the 5th of July. I am going to catch the ferry across the bay to avoid getting tangled up in a semi trailer on one of the main Melbourne highways, so if you are keen for it you are more than welcome to come and ride with me for as long as you want. Let me know if you are free/keen and we will try to organise something.

Well, i have to try to set up my cycle computer and study for my last 3 assesments for uni so i’d better be off. Thanks for your help, advice, and donations i will try to post photo’s of my complete setup (pack/everything) in the next week for you to have a look at.



Does this mean that you ride from Melbourne to Sorrento and then take the ferry over? I live in Frankston and that’s between Melbourne and Sorrento. You’re free to crash at my place if you need and yes, I’ll try to join you coz I will be in town then…I’ll send you a PM later :slight_smile:


Yeah! Adelaide! :smiley:
I live just out of adealide (about an hour) is their a specific location your riding to in adelaide? or just kind of getting to adelaide in the general region?

Hi guys i’m flattered but this thread is OOOOOOOOOOOOOld. Just so you know the ride was great, and i managed to raise about 5k US for the charity. There is a video online i made using pics i took on the ride. It can be seen here.


cheers, but let this thread die now.