Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Journey Begins...

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.

Funniest intersection:
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 [].
Carpe Diem...


Uncle Richard said...

Gracie: I hope all is going well.Like I said if you only went 100 miles I'd be impressed.It was great to talk to you the other nite at the hotel. I see your becoming quite the celebrity on the new's and all. I'ts for a good cause,any money raised for helping people with any kind of cancer is wonderful. We appreciate what your doing it's very kind.hope to talk to you soon,and congradulations on your graduation. Luv Uncle Richard

Lars Clausen said...

HI Gracie,

I don't know if you're getting time to check your blog. THANKS FOR WRITING.

Keith Cash told me you're riding. Another friend saw you on TV. I unicycled all 50 states in 2002 ( Just a note on your seat. Try a 12" innertube, pumped up just to firm. Duct tape it onto your seat. You'll be riding on air. I couldn't have done the trip without this. I FEEL YOUR PAIN. Also, take it easy on those shins to start. Avoid long-term damage. You'll soon be a monster capable of every challenge. Don't get a long-term injury at the beginning that you'll have to carry all the way cross country.

I'm thrilled for YOU!!! Riding cross-country was a life-highlight for me. ALL BEST WISHES!!!
Lars Clausen

Dad and Mom said...

Baby, We're so proud of you. You go girl. One wheel for One.
We love you,
Daddy and Mommy

Marty Heim said...

Gracie is doing great I spoke with her today in Pleasant Garden, NC. My friend Judy was riding with me and went nuts yelling there she is!! The girl I saw on the news ride from the east to the west on a unicycle. As promised I did make a donation and enjoyed our chat, be careful.

Chris Slydel said...

I think I saw you riding down Erwin Road in Durham about a week or so ago.
I ride a trails bicycle, so I spend about half my time hopping on one wheel, you, however, are taking it to a new limit. Good luck on your journey. I shall be happy to make a donation.

TeacherinTN said...

Still hoping all is going well. I would LOVE to have some updated info when you get the chance..

Anonymous said...

GOOOOOOOOOOOO GRACIE! Wow Alissaer and I went on a 2 hr bike ride in Sacramento over Memorial Day weekend and thought we were pretty tough...uh I guess least compared to you. Keep it up!Love Kristen

Anonymous said...

Hi Gracie- I am a friend of Tom Rand, that's how I found your site aand saw your picture. How terrific! I admire what you are doing. I hope the seat gets more comfortable.

Anne McCain in Charlottesville, VA

Samantha Fisher said...


miss you so much! i'm so pumped to see how far you've gone! i can't wait to hear all the stories in person! there's always a place for you in the dirty d if you should decide to make the return trip hehe

luv, samuel

carina said...

wow, what an incredible adventure! i found your site through my friends, stick and liz, who met you on their bicycle trip.... is someone following you with clothes, etc? where is your stuff??

carina said...

wow, what an incredible adventure! i found your site through my friends, stick and liz, who met you on their bicycle trip.... is someone following you with clothes, etc? where is your stuff??