Wednesday, May 10, 2006
The Journey Begins...
TELEVISION NEWS FOOTAGE:
WWAY NewsChannel 3, Wilmington, NC
WECT NewsChannel 6, Wilmington, NC
[click on the links at these websites to find the videos]
Click here to donate online. For additional donation info, please see the initial post, "Up and Rolling."
Coker unicycle product info.
starting location: Wrightsville Beach, NC
current location: Durham, NC
total mileage: 147
identifiable types of roadkill: 10
saddest roadkill: a tortoise, with its shell broken right down the middle.
# of dogs that have chased me: 4
level of seat comfort (on a scale of 1 to 11): 2
What a start. Although the route was quite flat, the beginning of this journey has certainly had its ups and downs, all within my prior expectations ranging from tears to glee. I started riding May 6, Saturday afternoon, having finished my finals the day before. While my body adjusts to the unicycle-touring lifestyle, physical pain hounds me. Despite the pain, however, there have been plenty of things that have come my way to help keep a smile on my face - if not at the time, in hindsight.
My first face-to-face interaction with the media for this adventure occurred at launch in Wrightsville Beach, NC. When arranging to meet with the news channel, I caught myself saying, "I've got long blonde hair and will be wearing bright blue spandex..." as if the huge unicycle wouldn't give me away. Surprisingly, I never had to put on the pair of flip-flops I brought along; few people questioned the fact that I was barefoot, and no grocery stores seemed to be able to get past the unicycle to see/care that I was non-shod. Although I prefer to ride barefoot, it definitely has its disadvantages, such as feet covered in bites after accidentally standing on a fireant hill. Whoops.
Reactions from passers have included, but are not limited to:
- a horn honking the song "Dixie"... welcome to the south.
- "We dun seen you on the Tay-Vay! We think it's a real good thang whatchyer doin'!"... welcome to the rural south.
- dropped jaws.
- swerving cars.
the only two signs at this intersection along Highway 55 were for taxidermy, and cotton-picker service, sales, and rentals. Later on that road was a billboard for plastic surgery, with the largest words on it notating the location, "Cape Fear." Sound appealing?
The time I'm now spending in Durham is well-needed - not only to get my diploma and to see my family, but to make crucial adjustments on the unicycle seat. After having lost a significant amount of feeling downstairs after only my first 1/2-day, then riding through the discomfort for 120 more miles, something needs to be done. By the end of this section, I had somewhat gotten used to this discomfort, but as I was in the middle of a 45-mile day (yesterday), my right quad and shin muscles began to cramp, bringing me an afternoon of tears, grunts, groans, and angry words directed at my body. I continued to ride about 20 miles (~3 hours) in this state.
Comical (in hindsight) story for that day: The initiation of this cramping episode occurred as I stopped to pet a horse and accidentally touched the electric wire fence. The shock shot through the right side of my body, down my leg, and made me a firm believer in the power of electricity... and an admirer of Benjamin Franklin.
In closing, thank you to all the North Carolina residents who keep their dogs chained up. Dogs have a surprisingly keen sense of the abnormal, therefore finding 600-horsepower 18-wheeled vehicles much less threatening than a 1-girlpower 1-wheeled vehicle. I do have pepper spray with me, but I'd prefer to not use it, as I cannot outrun/outroll dogs.
Brownie points if you suggest a name(s) for my unicycle [firstname.lastname@example.org].