Zen and the art of air saddle maintenance

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With two weeks until we leave for the big event, my training regimen has become borderline sadistic. I unicycle before work, then to work, then from work, then I unicycle to the gym, do all my strength training, then ride home and stare at a map of Nova Scotia. I have a date with my favorite press guy, Terry Karkos of the Sun Journal, on Wednesday for another training article with pictures. He asked when the rest of the team rolls into town, so I’m thinking he’ll be game for at least one more article before the race.

Courtney, our support person, has been staying with me for the past week, waiting for her apartment to open up. My obsession has infected her, and she could not be more excited about the event. She keeps demanding to know what exactly her duties are as support person, but I don’t know what to tell her. I think her principal duty will be snapping pictures and taking video, which she’s pretty good at.

Apart from the anxiety that comes with not knowing what to expect, she’s a bit stressed at the magnitude of Ride The Lobster, and the role I’ve played in its conception. It is true that my Six States; One Wheel tour (or more accurately, the website Kyle built for it) inspired Ed Wedler, who had never even been on a unicycle, to organize this, the most grueling unicycle race in history. Not only that, but on a 4-day promo event in Nova Scotia that I attended last September, a woman snapped a picture of me leaning into a turn in Annapolis Royal which has become the marquee image for RTL. It’s on the blog, it’s in the 2008 “Doers and Dreamers” tourism guide, it’s on the stationary… It’s perhaps one of the most recognizable unicycling images, like, in the world. I mean, even if the 123 riders from 13 countries who qualified for the race don’t know my name, they know who I am.

The technology of long-distance unicycling has changed tremendously in the past year. Not that it wouldn’t have changed without Ride The Lobster, but that’s the reason it’s happening now. The new T7 handle, the Nimbus Knightrider tire, the aluminum frames, and rims, and all that. Sometimes I think about it, and get to feeling like my brother and I have really changed the world of long-distance unicycling. That since the day we opened up the Torker CX 24″ that my dad sent me in 2002, we were destined to leave our indelible mark on the sport. We were destined to grow and legitimize the sport, and this is how we’ve done it.

But, after my head swells, and that flush of pride fades, I worry about the competition, and if I’ll let my team down.

My unicycle is finally in fightin’ shape. Rust spots from the winter salt: cleaned and coated. Brake line: replaced with teflon-coated steel braid. Seat post: replaced with Pr1mo rail-style post. Saddle: KH Fusion freeride (in Team UniMax orange) after fighting for a couple days with my Fusion air saddle. Tire: Coker button tread. Looks like I missed my chance to pick up a Knightrider, but this means between the tree of us, we’ll have all 3 available 36″ tires. My unicycle will probably be one of the older ones in the race. Mine will be the black Coker in a sea of blue Nimbuses. Unicycle Max likes to be distinct.

I’ve been thinking about communication between the vehicle and the rider. Last time I was up in Nova Scotia, I used my cell phone a few times, and my bill was sky high. I’d hoped the organizers would provide something, but since they can’t cover all the meals, I think we should look into some sort of 2-way radio.
UniMax flag on the way, I’ll have pictures of this and my amazing RTL wall in my apartment.

Let’s Roll!

-Max as Himself

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