Kyle here on the road with the Chas-man. We’re currently in Massachusetts on our way up to Maine to join up with the other half of Team Unicycle Max. The drive up from Philly can be a grueling one, but we’re both pretty psyched up for the race. Driving hundreds of miles is nothing when you got good tunes and lots of laughs. The DeMilners have never been short on either. We’ll be staying in Portland tonight before catching The Cat ferry up to The Lobster. If you happen to drive through Portland and see a UnicycleMax sticker on a stop sign or two, we had absolutely nothing to do with it. More from the road to RTL to come. Stay tuned.
Our friend Bill Merrylees and his team, American Mojo, just scored a sweet sponsorshipfrom Coker Cycles. Bill is a great guy who helped Max out quite a bit during his 2006 New England tour, so I’m happy to see the custom red white and blue Big One go to someone who really deserves it. He’s done a lot to spread the sport of unicycling in Vermont through weekly club meetings. Are we worried that American Mojo, now with the support of a major unicycle manufacturer, will run us off the road and claim victory over Team Unicycle Max? Not a chance. Besides, Joycone has our backs.
The numbers continue to tick away on the countdown to Ride the Lobster, but this isn’t the only game in town. The beginning of summer marks the beginning of the summer bike race season. The 2008 Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling starts today in Allentown, PA which is always a big event arount here. Philadelphia is a pretty cycling-friendly city, better than average anyway. Still, drunken idiots are everywhere, and the tragedy that happened in Mexico over the weekend could unfortunately happen anywhere.
MONTERREY, Mexico – A car plowed into a bike race along a highway near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one and injuring 10 others.
The 28-year-old driver was apparently drunk and fell asleep when he crashed into the race Sunday, police investigator Jose Alfredo Rodriguez said Monday (AP via MSNBC)
Be safe out there kids. Keep your head up and watch out for idiots. This is a terrible tragedy, but I hope some good comes out of it and the rest of the summer cycling season is safe and fun.
I don’t have television, so I’m listening to the hockey game on internet radio out of Detroit. The Red Wings can take the Stanley Cup tonight if they beat the Penguins. Now, even though Team Unicycle Max is spread out geographically, we are one and all Red Wings fans. The game just finished up it’s first sudden-death overtime period, and I’m trying not to fidget by writing.
I got word from Carrot Signs that our Team Unicycle Max flag is on its way, and should arrive by Saturday. Kyle sent me pictures of the jerseys and T-shirts, back from the printer, and they’re fantastic. Now that our bodies are in shape, and our unicycles are in top notch condition (okay, so mine was the only one that needed a real tune up, but my Captain Pasquale has never been better), we’re getting our merch together. It’s pretty cool. We should get some stickers made up. We won’t have them for the race, but they’re pretty cheap to have made up.
I have not one, not two, but three live feeds of the Red Wings game right now. It’s a but much…
I’ve officially started teaching Courtney to unicycle. I don’t know if I’ve gotten to be a better teacher, or if she’s just a good student, or what, but she’s picking it up quickly. It typically takes between 8 and 12 hours of practice before you can be called a unicycle rider, defined by being able to ride 50 meters unassisted. Courtney has three hours in the saddle right now, and she’s been able to unicycle three or four meters. She’s not free mounting yet, but once she gets a little more comfortable riding, I’ll have her start. She’s really doing well, I’m proud of her.
The second overtime period just started, and Marc-Andre Fleury, goalie for the Penguins, has 49 saves so far. forty Nine! This is getting ridiculous. This game started on Tuesday.
I made a list of all the things I need to bring up to Nova Scotia. It’s a surprisingly short list, as we’ll be spending most of our days on the roll. That’s how close we are to the race. I’m starting to do laundry, and get ready to pack.
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.
-Max as Himself
What a difference 20mm makes. That’s how much shorter my new cranks are and the difference is dramatic. I was quickly able to hit a new top speed of just under 17mph, with a good maintained average speed of about 14 – 15mph. Of course this was all on flat to slight downhill road. I avoided my usual 6-mile loop that tackles all the major hills in the area because even though the shorter cranks make allow you to pedal a little faster, they take away a lot of leverage for hammering up hills. Luckily, it sounds like this race will be mostly flat, so shorter cranks are definitely the ticket. Plus we have a sweet little 29er in our uni arsenal should we encounter any truly heinous hills to climb.
I just realized that we’ll be on our way up to Maine in 2 weeks and had a mini panic attack. This race is going to be here and gone before we know it. Cheers.
Ride the Lobster is less than 3 weeks away, which means it’s officially crunch time. Just 3 short weeks left to turn the training knob to 11 and to get our equipment overhauled and pimped out. For Max, his uni has the most miles on it by far. He has also done quite a bit of riding in the snow during the long Maine winters, so his unicycle has some badly needed maintenance before the race. For myself, I just need some shorter cranks.
Now we’ve all had the unfortunate experience of fighting with cotterless cranks, getting them to stay on the square tapered hub without coming loose every 10 minutes, pounding them with a rubber mallet to get a nice tight fit, or improvising a shim to fix an ill-fitting crank wobble. However, I have the luxury of a new ISIS hub on my wheel. That means stronger, more reliable, and a heck of a lot easier to change the cranks. I had my first taste of it last night and I couldn’t believe what a breeze it was. The ISIS hub and cranks are quickly becoming the standard in new unicycles. I was lucky enough to score the only Nimbus 36″er with the ISIS system. It was a custom creation from the folks at unicycle.com and I’m so glad they hooked me up. Not that I’m doing any crazy trials on my 36er or anything, but with the ISIS cranks, I’m not worrying about bending them or tightening them everywhere I go, something Max knows about in the worst way. During the final leg of his New England solo tour, he encountered some major crank failure, which is not very fun in itself, but when it happens in the pouring rain and in the middle of nowhere, a failure like that is miserable.
So my new cranks went on in a snap. I’ll take them for a spin later today. They should allow me to go faster on the flats and downhill sections. Hopefully I still have enough leverage to tackle all the ridiculous hills around my neighborhood. Stay tuned for a full report.
Welcome to the new Team Unicycle Max blog. This is it; Uni Central, HQ, your number one place for exclusive Team Unicycle Max content. We’re gearing up for the big race less than a month away. 35 teams are now signed on to ride the crustacean-shaped Canadian providence. Plans are coming together, jerseys are being printed, the wheels are in motion. We’re all very excited, not just because we get to participate in such an epic global unicycling event, but because we get to ride as a family. The Max Man himself was a big inspiration for the organizers of this race, so just riding with THE UnicyleMax is awesome. The race is approaching fast, so check back often with www.unicyclemax.com and www.ridethelobster.com for the latest news and updates.