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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Bruce’s video

Bruce Hall was tragically killed a week ago whilst out riding his unicycle.  He was a good guy and had been on many adventures with us.  I will miss my travel buddy.  Here is a short dedication:

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!

Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail

Alps to Ocean Website

Our Photo Album

I flew down to Christchurch on Labour Weekend to meet up with Anna, who had been busy performing puppet shows in Christchurch. She had been telling me about the Alps 2 Ocean trail for the best part of the year, so we finally decided to do it together during her South Island Tour.

The new 300km trail is part of the NZ cycleway, and takes you from Mt Cook Village to east coast of the South Island. We were also going to visit Anna’s nana, who lives in Twizel, in the middle of the A2O trail. Our plan was to complete the first half from Mt Cook Village to Omarama.

It was the first time I’d been to Christchurch since the earthquakes, so after Anna picked me up from the airport we went to the city centre to have a look around. We walked through the square, gazing at the ruins and new construction. The last time I was at Cathedral Square was on our 2007 South Island Unicycle Tour, so it was quite sad to see so many buildings demolished or damaged by the quake.

We had lunch at the new mall next the square, which was built out of shipping containers. After a quick stop to pick up riding supplies at the Cookie Time factory, we set off on the picturesque drive to Twizel.

We arrived at Nanas house but she was out playing golf, so we were greeted by her Great Uncle Alec who had driven down in his camper van from Tauranga. Anna showed me her childhood hangouts in Twizel, then we picked up fish and chips to fuel up for tomorrows ride.

Day 1

“We’re doing what?!!!” Anna had slightly mistaken the geography of the area. Instead of a comfortable 60km ride she’d planned for our first day, it would be a 74km ride to Lake Tekapo, followed by a 94km ride to Lake Ohau the next day. We were starting on the regular A2O ride, but cutting across to the alternate start at Lake Tekapo.

“…but I thought Tekapo was along the way!”

Luckily having Twizel on the trip route meant we could start in Mt Cook Village and finish at Nana’s place later that day. It would still be a challenging ride, as we would be completing two sections in one day.

Uncle Alec drove us in his campervan to the start of the A2O trail at Mt Cook Village. From there the track starts off fast and flowy, a scenic 8km trail to Mt Cook Airport.  This was more helicopter landing pad than airport, as the chopper is the only way across the river unless you fancy an icy dip. The all too brief 2 minute ride gave amazing views of the mountains and river below. It dropped us off at Tasman Point, before ferrying other passengers to the glacier.

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From there we cycled toward Lake Pukaki, following the Tasman River, and had lunch of peanut butter sandwiches along the riverbank.  Once we hit Lake Pukaki the track turned into a gravel road, with the Southern Alps seeming to rise above it.  The lake is an amazing shade of blue, photos don’t do it justice!  

Half way down the lake we stopped at Braemar Station to fill up our drinkbottles, much to the bemusement of the farmer and his son.  It was getting really hot so we considered cooling off in the lake. Although it was a warm day the lake was anything but! After dipping our toes into the glacier fed waters we decided a swim was not on the cards.

By the time we arrived on the final stretch to Twizel, the sun was setting. Anna was getting tired so we finished our ride at the dam. Anna’s Nana picked us up and drove us back to Twizel to stay the night.

Day 2

The next day we got up bright and early and started back at the Pukaki dam. The first part of the track meandered through dry grasslands typical of the MacKenzie Basin landscape, the ‘Pukaki flats’.  It took us back to Twizel but we bypassed the town by taking the alternate ‘flood’ route. Anna wanted to show me Lake Ruataniwha, where she had spent many childhood holidays. It is an artificial lake created by another massive dam; part of the Waitaki Hydroelectric project of the late 1970’s.

There was a Salmon farm by the dam. We stopped to have Salmon Pie, Salmon Chowder, and then fed the fish which would one day become someone else’s lunch.

The gravel road after that was incredibly rough and it was a struggle for Anna, who kept bouncing off the rocks. It was getting very late by the time we reached the Lake Ohau Weir. The wind was starting to howl, but the fast flowy track and amazing scenery of Lake Ohau made it worthwhile. At the end of the track we were picked up by Tony, a retired farmer from Buscot Station who now runs their backpacker accommodation. He entertained us with tales of farming in this region and the challenges they faced. We watched him feed baby lamb and then cooked up pasta for tea.

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Day 3

It was a drizzly morning but Tony dropped us off at Lake Ohau lodge, where we warmed up by the fire, hoping for the weather to clear. A couple of mountainbikers had decided to cancel their ride because of snow at the top of the ridge, but we had to get going regardless. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as we thought. Our ride started with a gentle 10km climb, but the drizzle had simply turned into mist. The landscape was quite different to the day before, with a light dusting of snow on the mountains. The track summit was just at the snowline. Anna copped a couple of snowballs as she arrived at the top.

The 18km descent took us to Quailburn Road.  The gravel road then takes you through farmland for another 35km…before a turn off to the ‘Clay Cliffs’.  We decided not to take the detour as it was getting late….maybe next time!  The ride finished with a short singletrack to Omarama.  Nana picked us up again and drove us back to Twizel, having completed the first four sections of the Alps to Ocean trail.

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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

Unipal: Day 7 Manang to Yak Kharka 4000m

Todays ride would take us up to 4000m, which is higher than most people in the group had been to before.  We started by weaking through the backstreets of the old village in Manang, with many alleyways, before heading up the hill towards Yak Kharka.  There were several ‘Stupa’ stops, where we had a chance to take in the views.

We stopped a beautiful teahouse that looked out at the mountains, before proceeding along the trail.  It was all singletrack riding from Manang, which was not overly technical but a lot of fun riding.  We crossed one of the longest swing bridges on the tour so far, which was slightly disconcerting on a unicycle.

When we arrived in Yak Kharka we took huddled into the teahouse with hot soup, lemon tea and other beverages.  It started snowing when we arrived, but an intrepid group decided to go for a walk up the hill with our guide Dawa.

Later in the evening, one our group members, Bruce, developed quite severe acute mountain sickness, so we had to send him down with 6 porters taking turns carrying him to Manang in the middle of the night (whilst it was snowing!).

Unipal: ride to Bhaktapur

We set out to the historic town of Bakhtapur, one of Kathmandu Valley’s three Malla Kingdoms before they were conquered and united by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1768.

It was an interesting ride, winding through the streets of Kathmandu. From chicken and livestock, to a noisy Easter parade, to men carrying leather sofa chairs and assorted loungeroom furniture in busy traffic , you are never quite sure what you will see on the road.

When we finally arrived in Bhaktapur we were instant celebrities, with a crowd of a dozen or so kids (and adults) following us everywhere.  It made sightseeing somewhat challenging but we gave them all a demonstration before we left. Anna brought out Johnny, her little boy puppet, and gave the locals an impromptu puppet show. Bhaktapur is famous for puppet making, and Anna walked away with not one, not two, but three Nepali puppets!

After getting back to the hotel, we were met by Ramesh Chandra, probably Nepals only mountain unicyclist. Ramesh works as a bicycle tour guide, and heard about our tour from his friend who had seen us riding out to Patan yesterday.  He unicycled for an hour an a half just to meet us!  Hopefully we will meet up again on the Annapurna Circuit as he sets off tomorrow to guide a small bicycle tour group through the area.

—Anna and Ken

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Unipal: ride to Patan

Sean, Anna and Ken rode out to Kathmandu’s neighbouring city, Patan, today. Following the ‘scenic’ route, we find ourselves riding through thick gloopy mud, dusty dirt roads, and negotiating crazy traffic intent on seeing who can beep the loudest. We got lost on more than several occasions, but luckily had the GPS handy.

We made it to Durbar (Palace) square in Patan, marveling at all the intricately carved wooded pillars and doorways.  On the way back we weaved our way through quaint little backstreets leading to Kathmandu’s own Durbar square. There are several Durbar squares in Kathmandu Valley, as neighbouring Kingdoms competed with one another before they were amalgamated.

After the ride, Anna and Ken headed over to Dilibazaar to meet up with Ken’s host family from his time as an elective medical student at Kanti Children’s Hospital back in 2002. It was fantastic to catch up after so many years and enjoy Rama’s cooking again!

—Anna and Ken

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Unipal: 53th birthday and last training !!!!!!!!!!

Yes, today (2 of april) is my birthday.
In the afternoon i’ll make the last training ride, then i’ll dismount my unicycle to fill it into a luggage.

Leaving for Kathmandu (Nepal) !!!!!!!!!
😉

Gaetano Peluso