Zach Warren's attempt at breaking the 100 mile record

I think this subject that JJuggle mentioned in thread
“Unicycle articles (but wait there’s more…)”
deserves its own thread.

A certain Zach Warren (who AFAIK never posted in RSU) is planning to
break the Guinness world record for 100 miles on a unicycle on 19 May
2005. The website is <>. Ken Looi’s
recent 24-hour record (and failure to break the 100 mile record) is
given due credit on the site.

On Wed, 4 May 2005 12:55:48 -0500, “U-Turn” wrote in thread “Unicycle
articles (but wait there’s more…)”:

>I wonder if this is the one Tom Miller built for Floyd
>Beattie in 1986?

It isn’t. I quote the website:
“Zach will be riding a high-tech racing unicycle that was built and
donated for this attempt by legendary designer Sem Abraham (sic)”

What I also found interesting is that the unicycle has 4.5" and 5"
cranks. Would this mean that he rides an asymmetric unicycle to make
up for the effect of riding around a velodrome?

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“When it comes to the family jewels, you won’t be having fun until they’re having fun. - Jake D”

Wow, Zach’s been a busy boy! He emailed me shortly after my 24hr Record ride- I passed on some tips on the 100miler- at that stage I don’t think he had ever done any cokering. So to pull together so many sponsors, a fantastic looking site, and a 45" wheel is an awesome effort. Give him your support everyone!

I’ll probably have a go at the 100mile record again- if Zach is able to better the record by more than 15min then I think I will have to wait until I get a Schlumpf geared uni before I make another attempt. I think it’s possible to break the current record on a Coker, but not by very much.

Records are meant to be broken- and it’s great that there is so much interest lately in pushing the limits of our sport.

Ken :stuck_out_tongue:

The 100 mile record has got to be one of the most amazing feats on uni. Focusing at speed for an hour straight is one thing, but 6+? Or in Ken’s case, 24?? GOOD LUCK ZACH!!

P.S.: I also find that reference to the different size cranks very interesting…

I personally know zach and was amazed to hear about this attempt. While Zach may not be a coker rider he is however a marathon runner and has the kind of determination and planning abilities to get him throuhg to setting a new record.

From what I hear he has been running into many of the same problems that Ken had with the tight diameter of tracks not being well suited to the pace needed to be the record that was set on a straight road.

Looks like I may have to take a road trip later this month to catch up with Zach and to cheer him on in person.

Zach also mentions in his blog entries that he watched a video of the 1986(sic) 100 mile record. Does anyone who knows him have any idea of where one might be able to find a copy of this?

Re: Zach Warren’s attempt at breaking the 100 mile record

At first I thought it could still be the same cycle, because I believe that one may be in Sem’s posession. But it would not be the best possible for record-setting. I assume that one was very similar to mine, which is pretty heavy. The Semcycle big wheels are much lighter, which is what you’d want for such a long ride, especially on a closed course.

(Side note: My 45" wheel was originally ordered with an attempt on the 100 mile record in mind. This was in 1981, when the known record was 10:37. Then a guy in California did it in 9:20, which kind of scared me off. As it turns out, I’ve never done 100 miles in a day, but I got pretty fast at the short stuff on 24" wheels.)

Good question. It might actually work! Or it just means the cycle came with a choice of two different crank sizes.

I read through the site, and you can clearly see Zach is motivated. He’s also athletic enough for the challenge. Running a marathon is a good test of one’s mettle to prepare for an even longer endurance event.

But I am concerned with his lack of experience on larger-wheeled unicycles, and long-distance unicycling in general (seats!). He’s starting off cold on a brand new unicycle, with a fairly near goal (from April 1 to May 20) of his ride. Reading the site, he was still reporting having trouble making the turns on a 400m track.

And it is hard making the turns on an athletics track with a large-wheeled unicycle. That is why I have been pushing 700c racing for the track. I will never recommend Coker or other large wheels on the track’s curves. Those larger wheels would have some nasty crashes from all the inexperienced people trying to go full speed around those curves.

I’m sure Zach can learn the technique, but he’ll have to have it dialed by May 20 so he can make all the curves without wasting too much energy. Let’s all cross our fingers and see if he can make it! The Kissena Velodrome should be much better than a flat track (even if he only rides around the bottom part). I hope he has lots of chance to train on it so he gets comfortable with the track!

And don’t forget to donate! This is a charity ride, for a good cause. Be sure to check out the web site, and help him out if you can.

Good luck Zach and team!

He is probably referring to the 1986 record by Floyd Beattie (on his 45" Tom Miller wheel). Sem and Teresa were there, and may have taken the video themselves. I would contact Semcycle to see what they have (

I’ve never heard of any video from the 1987 current world record. I’m sure somebody (lots of somebodies) were there with video cameras, but not sure where one might get a copy of someone’s old home movies. That 100 mile event was actually a race, between Floyd Beattie and Takayuki (and possibly some other riders). It was held about a week after Unicon III.

'Nother article on the subject added here.

From his web page he’s going to be riding at the Kissena velodrome in Queens NY. It’s an old 400 meter velodrome with an old pavement surface. It looks far from an ideal venue to be racing a 45" big wheel unicycle. The track surface is rough. The corners are going to be tough.

An ideal course for the 100 mile record would be a long flat bike trail that is about 10 miles long. Go out and back 10 times to get the 100 miles. The problem there is that the rider needs to be observed for the entire ride. Someone would need to follow the rider on a motorized scooter or small motorcycle to act as the observer. I think Guinness would allow that. The other difficulty would be getting an accurate measurement of the course to satisfy Guinness. It would need to be measured with a surveyors wheel several times and then averaged. Getting several accurate measurements of a 10 mile course would take some time. It’s not impossible because they do the same for marathon courses.

Another possibly good option for a course would be a race car track. It would be easy to observe the rider for the entire ride on a race car track. The challenge is finding a suitable track. And then again, you’d need to measure the track to find the exact distance of each lap. You’d also want to find a track with a good smooth road surface. Bumps and cracks will slow you down a lot on a big wheel uni.

I hope he is able to break the record. I like seeing records broken. It shows that the sport is advancing. But I’m concerned that the velodrome track is going to handicap him too much and make it too difficult to be able to break the record.

From talking to Zach on the phone the other day he is in the same mindset as you for location to ride. The problem with car tracks is that in the new england area they have too much wind. Zach is currently looking for a nice flat strech of road to attempt his record on.

Nutz about Afghanistan

Thanks for the feedback and kind wishes!!

It’s coming down to the wire now… less than two weeks till I make the attempt (May 19th now – the documentary filmmaker couldn’t do the 20th)

The Kissena track is still reserved, but we’re looking for other options now. Any ideas on long, flat stretches with minimal wind and traffic and hills in New England? Even 10 miles could work…
We’re talking with some civil engineers now who work with satellite equipment to see if they might give us some leads.
The velodrome is doable, I think, but with some difficulty on the straightaways, which are also banked.

The Guinness World Record people said it must be on a “closed circuit track,” but after talking with Sem, we’ve decided they’re just making up the rules as they go, which they’ve been doing for various records ever since they came under new management. All previous records for the fastest 100 miles were broken on long, flat stretches.

I’m pretty accustomed to the big wheel now. I ride to class every morning through Harvard square and can navigate sidewalks pretty smoothly. Even rode down the steps of Widener library this morning for a photo shoot (though wouldn’t recommend this – I took a few tumbles). Long-distance, it’s around mile 30 that I start getting tired and my sense of balance changes. The funniest part about all this is that it’s really difficult now for me to ride on smaller unicycles. I press the peddles too hard, and my body’s sense of balance in momentum is thrown to hell. It’s as if learning one thing has meant unlearning the rest…

Any other tips or feedback is always invited. And any support for the cause is especially invited!! The Afghan Mobile Mini Circus for Children does some wonderful work with health education, cultural preservation, and healing for kids who have suffered from several wars.


The City of New York spent nearly $200,00 to repave the entire track last year (and another $80,000 was spent on guard rails and accessories). New stands and a new officials’ tower were also built.

The track is brand new… and should be quite smooth.

An out and back course should still be considered a closed course. You end up right where you started which I think is the main concern. That negates or minimizes any advantages due to wind direction and elevation change. The main issue I think is that they don’t want you starting at one location and finishing at another.

I believe that Takayuki Koike set the current record on a 25 mile stretch of trail and rode out and back out and back. Finding a 25 mile stretch of good trail would be difficult. It would be much easier to find a 5 to 10 mile stretch. 5 miles gets to be a little short because you would just be getting up to speed and in a rhythm when it would be time to turn around.

You could look for a paved Rails to Trails trail. They’re old railroad grades that have been converted to bike trails. We have several in the Seattle area that make good flat Coker runs. Here’s a trail finder to find Rails to Trails trails in your area: TrailLink. You’d need to get special permission to have a scooter or some other vehicle trailing you to observe and film. Generally motorized vehicles are not allowed on the bike trails.

A long flat smooth stretch of road with wide shoulders on both sides would also be an option. You’d need to find a road that isn’t going to be too busy. You could have a car behind the unicycle to observe and to also block traffic so no one tries to pass too closely.

And I’d be checking out the race car tracks in the area. Maybe even look for an abandoned air field or military base.

Contact local road bike clubs to see where they do time trial riding. They’re likely to be aware of a good stretch of road or other suitable area.

Floyd Bennett field is an abandoned air field in Brooklyn, NY.
They even hold cycling races there!

I totally agree that Guiness do not really understand what their constraints are causing.

I have looked at an airfield in York that has 2 runways each runway is 4 miles long and they are 1 mile apart. So making 10mile laps.

I don’t see why a GMS can not be witness to the distance. From what I understand they are incredibly accuate over distance.

Hope you can find a suitable course Zach, it will make all the difference. When you start to get tired you start to take risks and you are slower at reacting to bumps. If it is totally smooth you can keep the speed up safely.

Go for it Zach!


That looks promising as a location. As long as you can find some smooth enough pavement/tarmac. From the pictures I saw it looked to be in a bit of disrepair. The solid rubber big wheel tire won’t take kindly to rough pavement.

Another option would be to find a closed/abandoned shopping center with a large parking lot area. Something like a Kmart that has been closed down or similar shopping center. You’d need to get permission from whoever holds the current lease. Some parking lots are big enough that you could do comfortable laps without the laps being too short or having too sharp of turns.

Re: Nutz about Afghanistan

Good to hear from you Zach! You’re right about Guinness making it up as they go along- my 24hr record had to be on a closed circuit- whereas Lars Clauson set his on a point to point route.

I’ve tried riding in velodromes (or at least the local 333m velodrome)- and IMHO, the banking slows you down way too much- you’re always accelerating just to maintain your pace. A flat surface, even if it is curved all the way around, makes it easier to maintain your pace (Yes, before anyone points out, I know you’re always accelerating towards your axis, but it’s an easier acceleration than riding on a banking). Perhaps an athletics track could be used for this purpose.

Make sure you experiment with a few different set ups first- I saved 2-3 secs/lap on 100mm cranks cf 110’s.

One last thing- make sure you can ride at least 1-2hrs at record pace comfortably. On the day you can hope for more, but if you can’t hold it for at least 2hrs, it will be very difficult!

Good luck!


Re: Zach Warren’s attempt at breaking the 100 mile record

On Fri, 6 May 2005 21:49:43 -0500, “GizmoDuck” wrote:

>You’re right about Guinness making it up as
>they go along- my 24hr record had to be on a closed circuit- whereas
>Lars Clauson set his on a point to point route.

I seem to remember that you wrote, with regards to your own record
attempts, that Guinness required that it either had to be a closed
circuit, or the distance had to be measured by special GPS equipment
with certified accuracy up to a few cm.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“When it comes to the family jewels, you won’t be having fun until they’re having fun. - Jake D”

Re: Nutz about Afghanistan

It would be interesting to know whether by “circuit” they really mean “loop”, or if “closed” is the main parameter. It might be a wild goose chace, but if you were willing to look around the Northeast, I bet you might find a highway project with 10 miles of newly paved, relatively flat, still unopened road. You might even be able to get state DOT permission to ride it, and their help in measuring it and certifying the distance, since they need to do that anyway for the mile markers. States always like to promote their highway projects, and that could be a great tie-in: World Record Attempt Opens the new Freeway.

Then again, I could just be smokin’ something.

Re: Re: Nutz about Afghanistan

strikes me as a stunning bit of thinking out-the-velodrome

and with proceeds going to the kids of afghanistan?
this is custom made for some publicity savvy state to get in behind