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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Puppets and Diamonds- I propose to Anna on our Iceland road trip

Ok, for those of you who follow my blog, you’ll know that I my girlfriend, Anna, is a puppeteer.

On our recent Iceland unicycle road trip, I surprise her with a puppet show at my favourite waterfall, Dettifoss.  She was all grumpy at the start, because it was wet and cold and it took me ages to get the camera set up.

Luckily for me, Diesel the penguin found something shiny without getting all tangled up!

New Womens Unicycle Hour World Record! 27.027km

I had the pleasure of timekeeping yesterday for Mirjam Lips  (Switzerland), who was attempting the womens unicycle hour record at Unicon 18, San Sebastian, Spain.

She broke Nadine Wegner’s previous record of 23.65km with a new distance of 27.027km, with a very strong ride on a 400m athletics track.

Congratulations Mirjam!

Downhill Unicycling in the Himalayas

Another cool video from Nicola, shot during Unipal, the Himalaya’s Unicycle Tour.

Yes, we really do pedal that quickly!

Karapoti Classic 2016

The first Saturday of March means only one thing on my calender…The Karapoti Classic! This years edition was looking very fast indeed, with perfect weather and a relatively smooth course.

My weapon of choice was my trusty Triton 29″/125mm. In 2015 I experimented with an ultralight 26″/114mm setup, which was great for the climbs, but felt rather knocked about on the rough, so it was back to the big wheel this year.

The setup:
– Triton 29″ Sponge Titanium
– Quax 125mm cranks
– KH cromo hub/KH 29″ XC rim
– Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29×2.25
– Wellgo MG1 pedals
– NNC Flatfish carbon seat
– Thompson elite seatpost

We lined up on the the banks of the Akatarawa River, the traditional start line of the Karapoti. Having a unicycle means I can get across before the bikes, which I duly did. My crank choice was shorter than previous years where I used 145mm, and I was unsure whether I’d have the legs to push 125mm. The fears quickly dissipated as I spun my way up Karapoti Gorge, keeping up with my start group.

The biggest bummer was missing my race buddy Tim Armstrong, a local unicyclist from Upper Hutt. He’d done serious damage after coming off his unicycle a couple of months before- and ended up with a forearm held together by external fixation! Normally at this part of the race I’m doing my hardest to get as much time as possible on Tim. He’s a formidable climber, and closes the gap on the way up Deadwood.
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Nevertheless, my legs felt good, the cushy 29’er tyre and short cranks were smooth, and I was going as fast as ever. The entries were down this year, so there were fewer riders to get around on the climb up Deadwood.  I remembered my *ding ding* bell, which I would ring as I passed people.

“Outta the waaaay!!! CAN’T STOooP!”

I heard a guy scream as he ploughed down the first rocky section after the warm up climb….straight into me! Luckily the unicycle is virtually bomproof, but my left thigh was left bruised and bloodied. It didn’t slow me down but still hurts days later.

After reaching Deadwood it was a nice spin over the rolling section at the top, then a fast dive into the Rock Garden. I was running 38 PSI in my tyre, which is firmer and bouncier than usual. In 2014 I came close to smashing the 2005 unicycle record (and possibly going under the magic 4hr mark), until a pinch flat took forever to fix! Never run 20 PSI at Karapoti.

The Devils Staircase had been bulldozed and graded. I was both gutted and pleased at the same time. The original steep, boggy, fissured slippery slip was an iconic part of the Karapoti. At the same time, I knew I was on track to breaking the Karapoti Record, particularly if I could pick up a few minutes on the Devils Staircase. The climb now resembled Deadwood and Dopers- rideable for many mountainbikers.

Over the top of the Devils Staircase and it was on to Big Ring Boulevard. This is supposedly the fastest part of the course, but on a unicycle it can be tough going- you are dodging rocks and and ruts and generally shaken to bits. This year, it was smooth and the 29″ Racing Ralph stuck like velcro, rolling over everything.

By the time I hit Dopers Hill, I was confident I would break the unicycle record, barring something stupid, like crashing or puncturing. I cramped a little so eased off up the climb.

The last section down the Gorge felt like I was flying- I came close to spinning out my 125’s. As we hit the Akatarawa river again, I was careful not to fall in like I usually do. Just had enough juice to remount and climb up to the finish line. It is always good at the end!

Unfortunately, after checking the final time, I’d done 4hrs14min49secs! Three minutes slower than my 2005 record. I’m still scratching my head where those 3 minutes went- felt like my fastest Karapoti ever.

Oh well, there is always next year.

Karapoti Photo Album

Our Alps 2 Ocean Unicycle Trail video

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge 2015

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What is the best thing about November?  Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge of course!  This is New Zealands biggest cycling event, with close to 10,000 people taking part every year. I remember my first in 2003, and if memory serves me right, I have only ever missed one LTCC since then, which would make 2015 my 12th LTCC, and the 10th on a unicycle (I have ridden the two-lap 320km enduro twice, on a bike). The best thing about Taupo is atmosphere- with so many people out there riding and enjoying the views around the Lake, there is always someone to chat to.
My partner Anna was doing her 2nd LTCC, but this time she would be doing the 80km solo challenge.  Last year she had ridden the first 2 legs of last years LTCC as part of a relay team, but this was the first time the LTCC organisers have had a 80km category, comprising the second half of the circuit.  She was super excited about being able to cross the finish line,especially with another year of riding experience.  Her friend Martha was visiting from Italy and also doing the 80km challenge on a mountainbike.

We arrived in Taupo on Friday a bit later than expected, but thankfully still in time to get registered and drop the bike off (it has to be placed on a truck to be taken to the 80km start).  Anna would carry her unicycle onto the bus in the morning- the advantage of a compact unicycle.  We were staying at Warren Ellery’s place- Taupo unicyclist and upholsteror extraordinaire.. Anna was drooling over Warrens collection of sewing machines.  Unfortunately he was away this weekend, but generously donated the use of his house for our LTCC base.

After stocking up on some last minute supplies, Anna and Martha cooked up pasta to load up with carbs, whilst I settled for meat pies (hey- you can eat anything you like if you’re going to ride 160km the next day!).

We got up early to get Anna and Martha to the start line.  Chocolate nutty porridge for breakfast is a perfect way to fuel up!
No 6am start like last year- Anna and Martha would be bused to the the 80km transition to ride from there.  I dropped them off then came back to set up my unicycle.  This would be the first time in many years that I had gone back to the 36″ ungeared unicycle- the original wheel I set my 2004 record on.

The setup was:
KH 36 Frame
36″ Airfoil rim laced to UDC hub
Wheel TA tyre (an oldie but a goodie!)
Regular 36″ tube
Wellgo MG1 pedals
Flatfish saddle with KH T-Bar
114mm quax cranks

It was nice to be on a solid, ungeared 36″ again, although I had originally planned to build a lighter 36″ using updated components.  Unfortunately there is a limited supply of 36″ rims in the country so it will have to wait till next year!

Anna was riding her 26″/110mm unicycle with very large Maxxis Hookworm tyre- one of my favourites.  She hadn’t had any experience on bigger wheels so elected to take her trusty 26″.

I got to the start line to line up with the Group 8’s (7-8.30hr groups) for the 9am start.  It was a smaller field than I expected- which I put down to the earlier start for slower group 9s (6am), which allows them plenty of time to arrive at the finish line.

3-2-1 go!!!

I set off down the hill in light drizzle. It’s a familiar start and something I always look forward to, because after a short downhill, it is a long climb with a slope perfect for a unicycle. By the time I reached the top of the hill, I’d passed all the riders in my start group.  We yo-yo’ed back and forth for the next 160km  with riders passing me on the downhills and me catching them on the climbs. My legs felt good but I don’t do humidity well- it was drizzling but also very warm. I managed to keep a 20km/hr average, so on track for an 8hr round taupo.

The rain cleared and it was a beautiful day.  The supporters were out in force, with lots of people on the side of the roads cheering people on.  By the time I hit the 80km mark, I knew Anna and Martha would have gotten off to a good start.  I had several almond gold slabs to munch on, but I was wishing I had brought a few more savoury snacks.    I got over Kuratau Hill- one of my favourite climbs, and it was mostly downhill from there.

According to my calculations- if Anna was doing struggling I would catch her as we rounded the lake, or after Hatepe Hill if she was doing great!  In fact, I didn’t see her at all as I made the final turn into Taupo.  At that point I bonked and had to down 3 almond slabs in succession, just to get through the final 10km.

I rolled into Taupo in 8hrs 11min 21s, quite a bit slower than my 2004 record, but still respectable (I did 8hrs 20min in 2003).  Anna had gone under 7hrs, with a time of 6hrs 58min 15s. An astounding effort, considering she rode a 26″/110mm unicycle a whole 80km!  Martha finished in just over 5hrs, wishing she had done the full 160km race.

It was a great weekend of riding and we are looking forward to next years (40th anniversary) event!

New 100 mile unicycle world record!

Congratulations to Sam Wakeling (UK), we have a new 100 mile world record!

Sam unicycled 100 miles in 6hrs 18min 13s at the Croft Circuit race track, in Darlington, UK.  The previous record  of 6hrs 44min 22s was set in 1987 by Takayuki Koike (Japan).

Read about Sam’s world record attempt here: http://100.samwakeling.com/ and on the unicyclist.com forums

Sam rode a geared Schlumpf 36″ Unicycle with 145mm cranks.

Roger Davies was making a simultaneous 100 mile record attempt at the same circuit, on an ungeared 36″ unicycle.  Unfortunately, after being ahead of the previous record mark, Roger had to abandon his attempt.  Hopefully we’ll see another ungeared record attempt from Roger in future!

Please support their charity, Water Aid.  They have raised over £500 so far.

Sam Wakeling and Roger Davies attempt the 100 mile world record: 9 July 2015, UK

The 100 mile record has stood for over a quarter century, and is one of the toughest records in unicycling.  It has had several attempts on it since Takayuki Koike (Japan) set the record in 1987, and still stands at 6hrs44min22s.

On the 9 July, Sam Wakeling and Roger Davies will be attempting the world record. Sam will be riding a geared 36″, while Roger will be attempting the record on an ungeared 36″.

Check out their website for updates: http://100.samwakeling.com/

And the RSU discussion

Good luck guys!

sam-aero-2015

More unipal albums

Here are some pics from Stefan Carpentier:

Unipal: Nicola’s video

Beautiful video of our Himalayas Unicycle Tour: