My name is Ed Pratt, I’m an 19 year old from Somerset and on March 14th I set off on an 18,000 mile, round the world cycle ride – on a unicycle! My goal is to become the first person ever to officially circumnavigate the globe on one wheel.
The ride isn’t about getting around as quickly as possible (I estimate it taking me about 2 years), but experiencing and engaging with the countries I pass through. I am camping as much as possible to give me the flexibility of where to sleep and also drastically cut down on accommodation costs. I am carrying the tent, sleeping bag, cooking stove and everything else in 2 custom made panniers that attach front and back of my unicycle.
I am raising money and awareness for School in a Bag, which is an initiative run by the Piers Simon Appeal. School in a Bag provide aid, in the form of SchoolBags, to poor, orphan, vulnerable and disaster affected children throughout the world. Each SchoolBag is filled with stationery equipment and resources that will enable a child to write, draw, colour, calculate, express themselves and, above all, learn. Visit the donate section of my site to find out more.
Why on a unicycle?
First and foremost, I love riding unicycles! It offers a great physical challenge, but also complete mental focus, because you know if you don’t see a pothole or bump in the road, that you’re coming off! When you’re unicycling, you’re unicycling, thats it and I love that!
Most of the appeal of the world ride comes from the fact that nobody has ever done it. To achieve the world first would be pretty special. People do it on bikes all the time, so what’s to stop anyone attempting this feat on a unicycle? I’m also keen to meet and interact with new people on my journey and I’ve found that the unicycle, through the interest it creates, is a great way to do this.
I was first introduced to unicycling by best friend, Daisy, in 2012. She knew I was into juggling, and happened to have an old rusting 16’’ uni in her garage. Thinking I might want to extend my circus repertoire, she gave it to me. It took me 3 weeks to get the hang of it, practicing a little everyday until I could ride consistently down our lane. The sense of accomplishment you get from riding 20 meters down the road, when at first not even being able to sit up on the thing, is immense. In some ways every time I go out for a ride I’m chasing that original ‘HOLY COW I’m actually doing this’ rush!
From searching online I soon became aware of the worldwide unicycle community. Unicycle hockey, trials unicycling, distance unicycling and even off-road unicycling! Sports I had never even heard of! My first purchase was a 29’’ trainer from Unicycle.com. The difference in speed from the 16’’ was incredible. The possibility of going out on proper rides now became open to me. I didn’t ride that far at first, as 5 miles was enough to turn my legs into jelly, but with practice and time I gradually started to increase this. On one occasion I cycled the 22 miles from my house, to school in Wellington. This ride is still the furthest I have ever ridden on a 29er.
The first time I met other unicyclists was in Cardiff for the 2013 British Unicycle Convention. The things people were doing were amazing. Crazy flatland tricks, unicycle hockey and even trials lines over cars! It was inspiring. The road ride was a great experience as I’d only ever been riding by myself, so to suddenly be riding with 5 other people was fantastic. The ease with which the guys on 36ers were cruising along definitely prompted me to buy one soon after I got back.
For anyone who doesn’t know, a 36er is a unicycle with a 36’’ (3 foot) wheel. It is the largest wheeled unicycle you can buy with a pneumatic tyre. If you want to ride distance, this is the wheel size you get.
Now armed with my 36er I was going out on much longer rides. The 20 to 30 mile loops around my home in Somerset were great fun, but I wanted to try something longer.
When researching potential cycling rides in the UK, I came across the 140 mile C2C route. Daisy was keen to cycle with me and, importantly, happy to carry most of our stuff. We left from the start in Whitehaven (after almost having gone for a swim due to a slippery slipway) on the 26th October and arrived 4 days later in Tynemouth. I fell off a couple of times and Daisy had a low speed collision with another cyclist but, apart from that, very little went wrong. The ride was very enjoyable, despite the bad weather, and was a good introduction into cycle touring.
Last year I set up an afterschool unicycle club. The club was very enjoyable to run and by the end of the year I had taught a total of 10 to ride. With the dedication of 3 guys in the year below me, the club is still running and continuing to grow.
During my last year of Sixth Form I began to consider what I wanted to do next. I didn’t feel university was right for me and I didn’t fancy going straight into work. I want to see the world and, in my mind, the best way to do that is from the saddle of a unicycle!