2015: A Unicycle Year To Remember (Then Quickly Forget!)

It’s true.

unicycle ride for charityFor the first time since I started this project back in 2010, I have NOT realized my goal of riding 1000 miles for charity! I did, however, end with 403 miles – in spite of several nasty falls, four surgeries and several trips, both in and out of the USA.

I finally finished the year on a high note, completing 17.8 miles at the Big Creek Greenway to log 50 miles for December.

Needless to say its been a trying year physically, and all started with a two-month layoff the first two months of the year because both knees sustained sprains after my grueling 200-mile journey to Alabama and back on the Silver Comet-Chief Ladiga Trails last November.

Starting in March, 2015, and still feeling I could do 1000 for the year, I kicked it up a notch and rode 100 miles in March and 68 in April . . . before “it” happened.

A really bad Boo-Boo!

Midway through the month – on April 22nd, 2015 – disaster struck.  I hit a shaded depression in the asphalt while riding the Atlanta Beltline and sustained multiple fractures in both bones of my left forearm!  Fortunately, Merritt Shealy was with me at the time, and medical help soon arrived, but it took a 3-day visit at nearby Grady Hospital to correct this little problem.

I then sat around with an arm cast and sling until the end of May before finally deciding to get “back on the wheel again.”  Here is the rest of the year-at-a-glance (with a few notes):

  • June – 6.5 miles (trying to get back in shape!)
  • July – 17.6 miles (slow but steady conditioning)
  • August (still getting back to form)
  • September – 3.3 miles (left eye cataract surgery; then left for Asia mid-month.  Soma and I finally met the kids I help raise money for at the Himalayan Children’s Charities house in Kathmandu Nepal!)
  • October – 50.4 miles (great month, considering we were still in Asia until mid-month and I had left eye retinal surgery on the 30th!)
  • November – 91.1 miles (recovered enough from eye surgeries to reach my “outrageous goal of 90 miles!)
  • December – 50.2 miles (right eye cataract surgery on the 8th and LOTS of rain this month).

Total 2015 unicycle miles:  403

Sorry I have no videos for you – yet.  I made some, but they are not ready for publication yet.  Stay tuned . . . I have lots of footage of me being rolled around in a gurney in the hospital – something I’m sure you won’t want to miss!!

Meanwhile, you can check out the video of me riding my unicycle 10 feet… two days after arm surgery!

Posted in Breakthroughs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

1052 Miles on a Unicycle in 2014!

I broke my own record for a year . . . . 1052 miles in 2014!

Thanks to my wife Soma, fairly good health, and a large dose of determination, I was able to mount a very successful unicycle ride for charity drive, ending with the 200-mile trail ride to Alabama and back, and a final 17.4 mile ride on the Big Creek Greenway, Friday, December 5th.  The only problem is that I developed a health problem that will keep me sidelined, at least until late February, 2015!

 

 

Posted in Breakthroughs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

200-Mile Unicycle Ride: Donation Update

unicycle ride for charity

Unicycle Ride: The End

$2200 raised . . . that’s $11 per mile!!  I could not have done this, however, without my lovely wife Soma doing her part . . .

While I did the “easy” part (riding a unicycle) she was the force behind the constant mailings, phone calls, and other activities which make a charity drive actually work!

CLICK HERE To Follow The Whole Story On Video

It’s always great to know you did a good job, but also to be acknowledged for a job well done.  Here is an incredible email we just received from the Keenans, founders of the Himalayan Children’s Charities (HCC):

Dear Soma and Michael,
We are honored that you have chosen HCC as the receiving charity for your 1000 Mile Project. We were so moved by the determination and dedication of you both to this project. It made a huge impact on all of us that followed Michael’s route, especially in such cold and rainy weather.
We can’t thank you enough for inspiring us and others; the $2200 you raised by donations drove us within reach of achieving the this year’s financial goal. We can always count on you both to have our backs and commit to doing an outstanding job.
Thank you for all you do on our behalf to give these children without a family a start in life. You have made an incredible difference for us and for the kids.
With much heartfelt gratitude,
Susan and Bruce Keenan
Directors, Himalayan Children’s Charities

Posted in Charity Notes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

200-Mile Unicycle Ride for Charity – Story on Video

unicycle ride for charityIt’s official.

My unicycle ride for charity raised over $1740 (to date) – that we can definitely trace – from this website! So THANK YOU to all who followed my exploits and made donations! On behalf of HCC founders Bruce and Susan Keenan, I will add “YOU ROCK!!”

I just finished editing some videos – and will be adding them to the earlier posts I made as time goes by. so check back to this blog post and I’ll be providing links to complete blog posts with VIDEO that tell the whole story.

Below are the Video posts (completed ones with have a link to the edited post):

Posted in Long Rides | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Unicycle Ride Raises $2K – Some Thoughts

silver comet unicyclingWe did it!

Thanks to you, esteemed  donor . . . and to my lovely wife Brigitte, who stayed in touch with all her friends, family and colleagues during my 200-mile ride, we were together able to raise almost $2K for the Himalayan Children’s Charities (HCC)! This is a remarkable accomplishment . . . and I could not done it without ALL of you!!

While I was out there blowing out my knees and freezing my tushie off, I also had the comfort of knowing that it was all paying off with the help of you guys at home.

I am still working on the video editing, and should have the first of many video blogs up starting this weekend.  It’s slow going, however, since my body is still recovering and sometimes I just need to sit in front of the TV and do nothing . . .

Trail Stories

The 200-mile trek was not all pain, suffering and hardship.  There were many blissful moments as well, and these are the ones worth sharing.  Some memories in particular are precious to me, and these are the moments when riding on the trail through the woods and over creeks when . . .

  • The morning or afternoon fall sunlight was just right in the clear chill.  There was a cascade of golden color intermixed with deep shadows that fell through the trees and covered me and the fallen leaves and pine straw that lay haphazardly along the trail.
  • The magical blend of light, shadow and silence was punctuated only by the soft sound of a tire rolling over leaves, and bird calls and small animals running through the woods.
  • I was all alone in the woods, just me , my unicycle, and the trail, giving me the feeling that this was a gift from nature and the Almighty!  The cold and rain had apparently discouraged most adventurers, and I saw no cyclists at all on Monday and Tuesday (the 17th and 18th), and on Wednesday I only saw 5 cyclists all day . . . and only within 3 1/2 miles of the beginning of the trail in Smyrna!
  • I met a couple of hungry dogs at the GA-AL border and fed them a couple of peanut Cliff bars and juice I had.  One of the dogs in particular was noticeably shivering, so I held him a long time trying to warm him up.  After I felt he had recovered sufficiently, I let him go and moved on, but still worried a bit about them finding warm shelter that night in one of the nearby houses or farmhouses.  Regardless, those moments of holding that shivering dog will remain with me forever.
  • About every 3 miles or so I felt the need to take a rest for a few minutes.  When climbing back on my wheel and pushing off, I repeated the same whimsical expression each time . . . “I’m going to make it in style…!” (and I did 🙂
  • The southern tip of the Appalachian mountains rose majestically north of the Chief Ladiga Trail as I rode through Alabama, reminding me why some folks say this is still God’s country.
  • Food never tasted so good, and a warm bed each night never felt so good as during this ride!

That’s it for today . . . Any and all comments and donations are appreciated!

Posted in Long Rides | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 7: V-DAY on the Trail!

VICTORY AT LAST!!

unicycle ride for charity

200-Mile Unicycle Ride

At 12:45 pm today I finished my unicycle ride for charity and limped into the Mavell Road Trailhead (on my unicycle) at the Zero mile marker of the Silver Comet Trail, having just ridden 20.5 miles from Dallas, GA, and 200.8 miles altogether!

My wife Soma showed up a few minutes later to give me a welcome-back hug, and deliver me back home where hot tea and  warm soup awaited my arrival . . . and also 2 fuzzy kitty cats who were totally UN-impressed with what had just transpired.

[NEWS FLASH: Bruce just wrote in to say that the ride raised over $1450 for HCC thus far!  Way to go ya’ll!!  Keep spreading the word, though . . . they need $6K to break even!]

 

Sort of lost in all the excitement was the fact that I also completed another 1000 miles a year riding a unicycle for charity…the FOURTH year in a row since I started riding for HCC!

There is lots to share, much to talk about, and a whole lot of video editing to do in the next few days . . . I want to show you a few things I experienced along the way, and share all the good, funny, strange, and the few not-so-good events that happened over the last week.

Meanwhile, I want to give a shout-out to a few people I met along the way who added much to my comfort and/or enjoyment of this experience.  So a big Thank You goes out to:

  • The Folks at Chew Chew Express – Off the SC Trail at the 9 mile marker for notifying their list and talking up the charity.
  • CPL. Lee Hurley – Paulding County Sherriff’s Office in Hiram, GA, who provided lots of encouragement and support.
  • Denis & Sharon Druker – Friendly visiting cyclists from Paddock Lake, WI, who I met at the Tara Drummond Trailhead.
  • Jay & Family – Owners/Managers at the Country Hearth Inn in Cedartown, GA.
  • Katy – The friendly Manager at the Country Hearth Inn in Piedmont, AL.
  • Shelly & Jazzy – Super-helpful Manager and her daughter at the Sunshine Inn in Dallas, GA.
  • Amy Scheid – The CFO at the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce who took pity on me and provided a ride to the hotel.
  • Merritt Shealy – My “Sherpa” who rode 40 miles in the cold hauling a zillion tons of stuff before deciding it wasn’t feasible to continue.  At least I got real help on the first blog post and video.
  • My Wife Soma and All Our Friends Who I will be thanking over and over for the next month or so . . .
  • To all those who made comments and gave donations during my ride who I’ve not yet had time to respond to, or publicize their contributions, and
  • To Many Others along the way who provided a smile or a kind word for a weary traveler.

 

 

 

Posted in Breakthroughs | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 6: A Sign From The Heavens?

Today was cold. And lots of mean, nasty hills. And I fell a couple of times.

Ouch.

 

But your intrepid unicyclist pushed on in spite of all obstacles and is now resting comfortably in the Sunshine Inn in Dallas, GA.

So I’m not dead yet.

Sometimes I felt like it though, specially when I was resting beside  the trail, and 5 minutes later I see vultures circling above me.

That was a bit disconcerting. So I moved my arms and my legs just to make sure to let the vultures know that they would have a fight  on their hands if they came after me, expecting dinner.

And many thanks to Amy Scheid of the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce, who watched me tumble in exhausted and disoriented and offered to give me a ride to the hotel.  I figured that would take some of the mileage away from my goal of 200 miles, but I said yes anyway.

Tomorrow morning, Shelly from the Sunshine Inn also offered to give me a ride back to the Silver Comet Trail. I will have her drop me off at the Tara Drummond Trailhead, which is 20.5 miles away from the beginning of the trail in Smyrna.

Since I’m currently sitting on 180 miles for the trip, that will put me over the top. Leaving tomorrow at 9 am; hope to arrive at the 0 mile marker by 1:00 pm.

And on the 7th day – upon arrival  I will rest. 🙂

Posted in Long Rides | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Day 5 – Unicycle Ride & Dodging Bullets…

unicycle ride for charity

1000-Mile Project

I lucked out yesterday… I arrived in Piedmont, AL, and was safely in my hotel room when the rain started at around 12:45 pm Central time. One Bullet dodged.

Later I went to get some food and supplies, and was in bed with lights out at 9 pm.  It was raining heavily by then, and continued to pour all night . . .

This morning I awoke and checked my phone… a little after 8 am.  I roused myself out of bed, washed up, and got dressed and ready to go get breakfast.  It was then I noticed that it was still dark out and still raining.  I thought to myself “Gee, I wonder why Alabama weather is so strange!

Turns out I was the strange one . . . there is a crack on the left side of my phone glass screen, and I saw the “3” as an “8”. . . it was actually around 3 o’clock in the morning when I got up!!

Ooops! . . . got hit by a (rubber) bullet!

 

I Felt a bit embarrassed (especially knowing I’d have to blog about it!), I promptly jumped out of my clothes and back into bed for a few more hours….

The rain stopped shortly after sunrise, so the ride was nice enough… another bullet dodged, but another was soon incoming . . . it started getting colder and colder as the day went on!

As before, I made stops about every 3 miles to rest my sore crotch and catch my breath, and reached the GA-AL border around 1 pm CT (2 pm ET).  A couple of hours later I pulled into Cedartown, and was checked into my hotel by 4:30.

This is the same hotel where I burned my socks . . .  so I asked to see if they had a dryer I could use.  They didn’t.

I’m microwaving my wet clothes again . . . but this time I’m watching them very carefully!

I’m not looking forward to tomorrow – a unicycle ride in 20-degree weather is not fun, although I’m more worried about the shrinking and expanding metal and materials in my cycle, and a possible breakdown. The BIG news, however, is that I will cross the 1000 mile mark for the year (once I get past Rockmart)!!

Mileage update: 100.4 miles from Smyrna to Anniston.  Since leaving Anniston, I’ve logged about 47 miles.

Total mileage on the trip to date:  147.4.

Total mileage for 2014 to date:  980 (est.)

Keep your fingers crossed that all goes as scheduled . . . if so I will arrive at the zero mile marker at Marvell Road in Smyna at 1 pm on Wednesday!  SO looking forward to seeing everyone and finally giving my body a rest!

Pls share – xxoooxxxooo

Posted in Mileage Update | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Day 4: Reaching the End of the Road

Greetings from Piedmont Alabama. I left my hotel in Jacksonville, AL,  this morning at 8:00 local time and reached the end of Chief  Ladiga Trail, one hour later.

Yahoo!! Halfway home.

The total distance from Smyrna, GA to Anniston , AL on both the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails is 94.4 miles. Adding 6 more miles for distance travel to hotels and back brings the total to 100.4 miles.

In Piedmont, the Country Hearth Inn, is a place where I stayed before last year.  It’s nice and comfortable and not too fancy (Note: I’m back to drying my clothes using the micro wave again. It was nice having an actual dryer at the last hotel I stayed in).

Because I got here before noon today I thought about going the rest of the way to Cedartown, but that would put me over 50 miles in one day and my body is not able to take that right now.

So I am choosing to have 2 short rides in a row: 25 miles today and the same miles tomorrow. Taking it easy, eating well, watching movies. Back to the salt mines tomorrow.

Thanks for your continuous donations and comments!


 

Posted in Mileage Update | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Day 3: Burn Socks and Unicycle Riding

One lesson I learned since Merritt left and I had to carry my own load, is that I have to wash clothes everyday since I have only 2 pair of everything.  The hotel in Cedartown did not have a washer/dryer so I got creative and used the microwave.

After several microwave sessions the shirts and underwear came out fine.  The socks were also fine but still a little damp. This morning I did one more microwave session with the socks. Then went to the bathroom while they were “cooking” . . .

The smell of popcorn filled the air. When I opened the microwave I discovered two burnt socks, one of them had burning embers begging to be doused. Needless to say they were not good anymore so I threw them away. I still have two pair of socks left anyway.

I then rode 41 miles to my new destination:  Jacksonville, Alabama. Along the way I stopped at the Georgia-Alabama border,  then rode another 13 miles to Piedmont, AL where I stopped in to see Mr. Holder & the Gang at the Eubanks Welcome Center to catch up on all the local gossip and bad jokes. I ate my lunch, got a refill of water and Powerade and headed SW along the Chief Ladiga Trail.

There is a whole lot more to tell, I have more great video footage below. Meanwhile, it’s late, time for sleep. More tomorrow.


 

Posted in Long Rides | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments