Why Unicycling?

I’ve been unicycling since about nineteen ninety-nine.  I’ve owned and ridden seven different unicycles since then.

My dad and his brother had a unicycle when they were kids.  When that uncle moved in next to our St. Louis home for a period of time, he gave me that unicycle.  Uncle Jerry gave me a quick tutorial, but I was mostly on my own for the 7,422 or so falls it took to ride in a straight line.  Seriously speaking though, falling has always been my best teacher.  I have a pencil-length scar on the outside of my right knee to show for that.  Anyway, thanks Uncle Jerry.

Fast forward to high school: I thought I was tough shit for unicycling the almost-a-mile it was to school.  But then I started doing nearly every day.  At some point, I bought an off-road unicycle and continued riding it to school – and occasionally off-road – and then brought it to college.

Then the idea came: I was planning my next big trip, which was South America.  I wanted to see a lot of places, so I looked up flight prices.  I quickly decided on touring instead.  First I thought a bike would do, but then I naturally thought about my ability to ride on only one wheel.  Up to this point, the longest distance I had ridden was 10 miles.  I had ridden 650 miles by bike a few summers earlier, though, from Baltimore to southern New Hampshire.  So I knew it was possible.

A year and a half, three unicycles, over two thousand miles, and hundreds of hours on the wheel later, I was ready.  After pushing it back multiple times, I set the departure date for South America at the first day of the seventh month of the year two thousand thirteen.

Possible suddenly became doable after I successfully finished a 1080-mile unicycle trip from Baltimore to St. Louis in December 2012.  The trip took 17 days, of which I rested 5 days.  7 of the days were more than 100 miles of riding, including the last three consecutive days: these were 124, 117, and 116 miles, respectively. Planning was all I did, and the big trip loomed large for July 1st.  The plan: to ride from Baltimore up to Toronto, down and across the states, through Central America, down the western coast of South America and back up to Venezuela.  This would span over 22,000 miles and ideally take in all 23 of the continental countries in North and South America.  It would also break the Guinness World Record for “Longest Unicycle Trip,” which stood at 9,126 miles.