100 Miles of Nowhere: Suburban UNICYCLE (!!!) Division

05.12.2010 | 3:00 pm

201005110734.jpg I’m pleased to report I have completed the 100 Miles of Nowhere – Suburban Unicycle Division. I finished the race in 11 hours 58 minutes and 53 seconds, and while my time likely fell quite short of the best bicycle times, I nevertheless dominated my division. I only saw one other unicyclist on the course, but he was out for a pleasure ride, not to go the distance.

To my knowledge, I’m the only person that’s completed the race on a unicycle, and while there’s no dispute on whether I won or not…there is a question as to which year I won. Since I did the ride on September 20, 2009, I was either the LAST person to complete the 2009 race, or the FIRST person to complete the 2010 edition. Since I pride myself on both punctuality and leadership skills, I’m going with 2010.

For unicyclists wanting to ride a century, the 100 Miles of Nowhere actually solves a nagging logistical problem. Unicycle frames don’t have space to mount water bottle holders or tool kits, and our tubes and other hardware aren’t “bike standard”. So that means everything we need to make the 100 miles have to carry on our backs…which gets really heavy and tedious after about the first 10 miles.  


The Nowhere “rules” solved this, and I chose my suburban cookie-cutter neighborhood, where I could do a five-mile-loop 20 times, while never traveling further than 2 miles from my house. No need to pack a lot of food or water, since I’d pass my house every 25 minutes. No need to pack tools, since help would be a 5 minute drive away. No risk to the rules, since I’d never leave my neighborhood, hence never ride “somewhere”. The only downside, as every Nowhere racer knows: tedium.

The ride itself was pretty un-eventful. Started at 6:30am, ended just shy of 12 hours later. Same loop over and over except for about 15 miles near the end where I just lapped the local middle school cinder track. After 80 miles, even the tiny hills on my route were starting to kill me, so I needed to find something flat for a while.  


I started the day with a sub-goal of trying for a “100:10:1″, which is kind of a big deal in unicycling distance circles. It’s 100 miles ridden in 10 hours, in 1 day. That’s total elapsed time, not just riding time, so bio breaks and food stops count against you. On a bike it’s no problem, but on an ungeared uni, it’s really a push.

I managed to stay on pace through the first 50 miles, although with every 10-mile-break the clock was catching up to me. Finally at Mile 50, I decided to bag the 100:10:1 goal to focus on taking a little bit longer breaks, chewing my food, and not worrying about always being in full speed pedal mode.

Biggest excitement of the day was the suspence of not knowing whether I’d be able to finish before dark or not. Dark is not fun on a unicycle, where you really need to see the bumps in the road lest you go flying.

Stats? Hydration was one litre of water with an Elixir tablet every 10 miles. Nutrition was lots of Chewy bars, PB&J sammys, and Boost energy drinks…supplemented by a couple of Builders bars, umpteen packets of Sport Beans cherry flavor with caffeine (thanks Fatty for the recommend), Reeses cups, and those little chewy candies that look like raspberries. End of ride reward: switching from Ibuprofen to Vicodin.

Best moment of the day–other than finishing–was after I’d passed one neighbor for about the 8th time, as he was out doing yardwork.  

Him: How far are you riding that thing today?   

Me: 100 miles!   

Him: Just around the neighborhood?   

Me: That’s the idea.   

Him: (Pause) Dumb idea.   

Me: Yep.

As Noodle said in her 2009 Nowhere video, I completely underestimated the “sheer vehemence of the suckage”. This might be a “one and done” for me, and future years I’ll sponsor someone on two wheels and a set of rollers.


– Tom B, Issaquah, WA


  1. Comment by Ripkenfan | 05.11.2010 | 7:46 am

    Not much else to say but way to go! That is definately impressive.

  2. Comment by jever98 | 05.11.2010 | 7:49 am

    Wow. You rock! Kudos.

  3. Comment by Dr Bryce | 05.11.2010 | 7:51 am

    Who’s going to top the “suckage” of that? Way to go! And, nice write-up.

  4. Comment by gareth | 05.11.2010 | 7:55 am

    mad as a bag of snakes. congrats.

  5. Comment by Philly Jen | 05.11.2010 | 8:02 am

    Oh. My. Gobstopper.

    Half the wheels, ten times the suckage. I bow down to you.

  6. Comment by whit | 05.11.2010 | 8:24 am

    holy moly.

  7. Comment by Megan (Best of Fates) | 05.11.2010 | 8:27 am

    That is a noble goal – I’m very impressed.

  8. Comment by Melissa | 05.11.2010 | 8:27 am

    Congrats on the ride! My only question is is the tree in the 2nd picture for real? Or was it photoshopped to look like a mad pineapple?

  9. Comment by MattC | 05.11.2010 | 8:31 am

    Tom…WOW! Thats about all I can say…your determination to finish must have been considerable, as off the top of my head I can’t think of how to make it have ANY MORE suckage. My hats off to you…your insanity rules!

  10. Comment by svandiver | 05.11.2010 | 8:34 am

    Totally awesome. I applaud you!!

  11. Comment by ChinookPass | 05.11.2010 | 8:41 am

    Tom, Hey that’s my neighborhood!

    My kids and I were toodling around the other end of the hood on Saturday so didn’t run into you. What a workout!

    What do you charge for lessons? My son could benefit from a few. He got a uni for Xmas and it hasn’t clicked for him yet.

    By the way, that tree is real, my kids call it the angry radish.

  12. Comment by fishdaddy | 05.12.2010 | 3:06 pm

    Wow. I can only hope to get into enough shape to be able to do this next year on a bike. I really can’t imagine doing this on a unicycle. My hat is off to you.

  13. Comment by Mark | 05.12.2010 | 3:16 pm

    Fantastic job! Are you the same guy who has done the 24.5 mile climb up Mt. Baker in the fall?

  14. Comment by Uni-Tom | 05.12.2010 | 3:19 pm

    The “Angry Radish”…I love it. I just call her Flo. She was my lap-counter for the day.

    ChinookPass, I’m happy to offer your son some pointers…mostly it’s just persitance. Like learning to walk, after a while you just start going further in between wipe-outs. My son learned at 8, and I bet he’d be happy to help teach also.

  15. Comment by Uni-Tom | 05.12.2010 | 3:25 pm


    Nope…that’s my friend Joe. He has unicyclists like me for breakfast. He’s tried to get me to do that “little climb” a few times, but luckily for me it always overlaps with the BikeMS tour, which is my must-do ride of the summer.

  16. Comment by Jeremy | 05.12.2010 | 3:32 pm


  17. Comment by Don | 05.12.2010 | 3:38 pm

    The mental picture of the “dumb idea” encounter with your neighbor is absolutely classic. LOL….fantastic. Congrats on such a truly stupid accomplishment. I applauded you \m/

  18. Comment by Kelly Martinson | 05.12.2010 | 3:49 pm

    My ten-year old is a unicyclist. He’ll love hearing about you! Excellent persistence!

  19. Comment by Mandy | 05.12.2010 | 4:20 pm

    You have got to be kidding me. LOVE the encounter with your neighbor, too funny.

  20. Comment by roan | 05.12.2010 | 8:09 pm

    Very uniqueish. I noticed the long shadows in pic 3, AND the shrub/tree in the 2nd. I’m not sure that after dark you could escape the “Angry Radish”. And such a ‘nice’ neighborhood too.
    I’ve seen some of your 33″er friends on the Burke-Gilman, probably going the opposite direction of Joe…not wanting to become breaksfast.
    Rumor has it that IronFatty & IronLisa are going tandem in Seattle’s LiveStrong this summer.

  21. Comment by Rob M | 05.12.2010 | 8:52 pm

    I loved your neighbor’s observation and how you agreed with him.

    Chapeau on a great ride and a great post.

  22. Comment by Betsy | 05.12.2010 | 9:56 pm

    OMG! You the man!!! Amazing………I am really speechless at your adventure! Strong work.

  23. Comment by axel in texas | 05.13.2010 | 10:05 am

    that’s one amazing feat! I unicycled to work once, about 10 miles roundtrip, and that seemed far on a unicycle…

  24. Comment by Jamie Rogers | 05.13.2010 | 7:32 pm

    Way to go bro! Perks might have been a better choice. Good ride though!

    Jamie (Boxboro)

  25. Comment by Celeste | 05.14.2010 | 8:17 am

    I am in awe.

  26. Comment by CT | 08.5.2010 | 3:49 pm

    I didn’t even know this type of unicycle existed until we saw one yesterday on a highway in eastern Oregon. This unicyclist was even more insane, maybe was the guy who rides up Mt. Baker, as the road he was on comes from Hells Canyon. He was almost to Baker City, so had come through the Powder River canyon and was now climbing back up to Baker’s 3400′ elevation. I used to dream of biking from Richland to Baker City (avoiding the grade between Halfway and Richland); this guy put that dream in a whole ‘nother dimension! I applaud your balance and stamina!


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