One of the challenges I’d set myself to complete before March 2015, which is when I set off on my round the world ride, was to unicycle 100 miles in a single day. I knew hitting the century was going to be tough (especially considering that the furthest distance I’d ever unicycled in a day was 61 miles!), but I figured that as long as I started at a decent time, picked a flat route and just kept pedalling, I would make it eventually…right?!
I guessed I would need 12 hours to complete it: 10 cycling and 2 resting. Late November wasn’t really the best time of year to attempt this, as I only had 9 hours of daylight to play with. I left at 5:30AM and managed to bank the first 21 miles in the dark. Apart from the fact that I couldn’t see any more that a couple of meters in front of me, this first section of the ride was pretty pleasant. The roads were quiet and I even caught sight of a fox crossing the road ahead of me. I rode the first 25 miles non-stop without touching the ground, which is a personal record. This run was broken when I stupidly fell off at a crossroads!
Temperature wise it was perfect. A little chilly, but this helped as an incentive to shorten my rest breaks and keep me riding. At 30 miles in I was feeling fit and felt as though I could ride all day – which was a good thing because that is exactly what I needed to do! 35 in and I passed a large group of friendly cyclists that called out a few words of encouragement. This gave me a boost to push another ten miles before having my next food break of porkpie and chocolate. Not a bad combination if you ask me!
Just under the halfway mark and I was definitely starting to feel it in my legs, back and crotch. It was also a bit disheartening knowing that I had to do another 55 miles on top of the 45 I’d already done! I tried hard not to think about it and just focused on the good weather and beautiful surroundings of the somerset levels. A welcome distraction came at about mile 57 when 2 guys on mountain bikes, splattered with mud, cycled up behind me. I told them how far I had been and what I was attempting. They took a few videos with their phones, said I was crazy and went on their way. At about 12:30 I hit the metric century (62 miles) mark! I felt good knowing that every miles I cycled after that point was adding to my longest ride ever! But again, I had to stop thinking about the work left to do and just take on every mile as it came. The 10 miles home were a real struggle, but the draw of lunch when I got there was enough to see me do it in 55 minutes.
I left at 2ish for the final push after lunch. 72 miles done, 28 to go! My dad joined me on his bike (I’m still trying to persuade him to ditch his training wheel!) for the last bit. Unfortunately he got a puncture 4 miles in. As I was pushing it for daylight anyway, I went on without him. My pace at this point was a measly 9mph. At 90 miles I was pretty much falling asleep. I lay down in a pub car park for what must have been 15 minutes. Getting up seemed too much of an effort so I just sat there, ate the last of my chocolate and watched it get dark. By the time I did finally make myself re-mount the uni and get on, the light had pretty much disappeared! I made it 4 miles until I needed another rest. Another 10 minutes passed until I set off again. The last few miles sucked! I crawled back home at 8mph only to find that when I arrived, I was 1 mile short! That final mile up and down the lane was the hardest mile I have ever ridden. If an aching back, burning legs and saddle sore crotch wasn’t enough, my phone, which I was using as a torch to see, died. Performing that last mount took me over 10 attempts. Eventually my foot made contact with the pedal and I struggled the last mile home! I limped into our drive, finally completing the ride I had started 12 hours ago.
Riding 100 miles in a day was a real challenge, but that is exactly why I attempted it. It has helped me prove to myself that with enough will-power, most things are possible and it has also made the challenge of unicycling around the world, seem a tiny little bit more achievable!