A few weekends ago I decided to do a long unicycle ride. Up to this point, the longest ride I did was around Lake Tahoe, which is no short ride topping in at over 70 miles with a bit of climbing and at a much higher elevation than my normal sea level riding. It was incredibly tough, and I did it before the invention of geared unicycles.
Check out the complete ride stats on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/570160115
93.2 miles, 8:20 minutes of moving time (about 10 hours total time out), and 8,134 ft of climbing. Not too shabby! I really want to shoot for a 100 mile ride now, and the ultimate adventure will be 1 wheel, 10 hours, 100 miles, 10000’ of climbing. It would be insane, but we have to have goals!
I feel like I’m currently in “medium” shape, working up to “good” shape for this years UNICON in San Sebastian, Spain. I pretty accurately remember how I was feeling at various points on the ride, and I’m finally going to write about it before it fades from my memory.
From my house, there is a long steady up along Summit Rd, which turns into Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd)…and then it gradually just keeps climbing until I hit Castle Rock state park. After that point, it is some downhill until the top of Highway 9. Along the way, I was munching a little bit of food to keep me going; mainly dried pineapples and some nuts. I recall taking a break after the first hour of riding, which is shortly after I passed Black Road, and then again at the parking lot at the top of Highway 9 where it intersects with Highway 35. I was trying to pace myself and get the cycle meter to average 10mph; that way I could shoot for 100 miles in 10 hours of riding. It was difficult to do with all the uphill, and I was averaging about 9 or so at that point.
After I passed 9 I started to question if I’d be able to do the entire loop; my legs weren’t feeling all that great after 20-30 miles, and it was going to be really hard to do the entire thing. But I kept going, and stopped at the Palo Alto city side to take one of the few pictures I captured:
I was originally thinking of going all the way to La Honda (84), but once I hit the top of Alpine Rd I saw a few bikers and asked them if it went down to the Ocean. They said it did, and that it was really an awesome way to go. I was sort of wanting to take some sort of short cut at the point. My legs were doing okay (but not great), but I knew I wasn’t even at the half way point.
I’m so glad I went down Alpine! I’ve never been down the road before, and it was amazing. The long downhill was pretty tiring though, as I had to keep spinning. I was passed by a group of bikers once I got to 84; they commented about how I was crazy. Little did they know how far into the ride I was!
84/La Honda was tough. It was mostly downhill, and I stopped every hour to rest a short bit and eat some food. I brought an Avocado for high fat/energy — I’m not sure that was the best food choice. Shortly after I stopped I saw a small store/food place in San Gregorio. At this point I was seriously questioning the sanity of what I was doing, and what I would do to get home if I couldn’t make it. I was starting to dread the possible hills along Highway 1 back home. I pulled in and got an expensive drip coffee and chocolate bar. I gulped the coffee down, rested a bit, and headed back on the road, feeling super re-energized and back to being strong again (coffee!!).
I hit highway 1 and started heading south. The coffee and food was kicking in, and I pounded up the ~8% grade hills with no trouble at all. The scenery was amazing along the coast, and it was an incredibly beautiful day!
I stopped every hour or so to just rest my bum, and re-energize. It was tough, and I was leaning over the uni handlebar and just pounding away at the pedals at a slowish speed. I passed by Ano Nuevo and thought about the elephant seals.
At this point, I was looking forward to hitting Davenport. I hadn’t ridden this part of 1 before, and there were a lot more ups than I expected, making it difficult. But past Davenport and to Santa Cruz I’ve ridden a lot, and knew I could make it. So, once I hit Davenport I pulled into the cafe and got an espresso and piece of pie. It was lovely! The food and caffeine kicked me awake again, and I started pedaling towards town.
I hit Santa Cruz in no time at all; still riding not super fast, but not super slow either. I thought about the easiest way home…and figured I’d do the short hill climb up Graham Hill Rd until it hit Felton. I had to take a break going up the largest climb…and motivate myself to keep going. Once I was at Felton I knew home was in reach and started cruising up the back roads to my house.
At this point, my legs were done. I had to walk some of the steep bumpy back roads. I could have forced myself to ride, but I was nervous that I would be tearing up my leg tissue. In the end, I think I would have been fine, as my legs weren’t ever really super sore during the next few days. More “tired” than anything else.
The ride was tough, but I made it!
Four days later, I did the 20 miles to work one morning for “unicycle to work day” and 20 miles back! Ultimate training. Unfortunately I’ve slacked off the past week and a half and need to get in the habit of doing some more longer rides again.
Here’s an overview screen shot from Strava: