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.
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