Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Bigger Journey Continues...

This final post serves as a gigantic "THANK YOU" to each and every person who helped me along the way, though it far from matches my gratitude for the prayers, tangible support, and encouraging emails and phone calls, not to mention the many generous donations to the cause. Upon arriving home to California, I was able to visit my Uncle Richard; the picture below is us together during a treatment session.

At the time of this posting, the donation total is $7,145, 71% of my $10,000 goal. For those who would like to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, click here. Thanks! For those interested, reports of my "normal life" adventures can be found here.

Carpe Diem.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ode To A Wheel

total mileage: 3,566
starting location: Wrightsville Beach, NC
ending location: Long Beach, WA
flat tires: 1
tires used: 4
# of identifiable types of roadkill: 27
# dogs that chased me: 14
# servings of ice cream: 144
% of riding days that i cried: 29
# thunderstorms ridden through: 8
marriage proposals: 2

An overcast day welcomed me west
to the Pacific, bringing this journey to rest.
The cool ocean air gave me a chill,
a break from the heat, of which I got my fill.
Through eastern Washington the heat was intense,
my life at the mercy of the van and the 'rents.
Mom drove the van up from the big C-A
and picked up my sidekick Matt on the way,
both ready to join with my dad and me
on the adventure's home stretch to the sea,
riding through one-hundred-eighteen degrees
and wind that nearly knocked me to my knees.
Jumped in the river whenever I could
to escape the hot wind that occasionally would
blow past my ears with such great ire
that the poor cartilage felt as if on fire.
My very last day of the ride was a treat,
as some pirate's booty was found in the street:
an oven-fresh pizza lay in the road,
still in its box, fallen from a car's load.
That "5-second rule" had long been forgotten;
the pizza, still warm, was far from rotten.
My Uncle Chuck and Aunt Pauline also came
and played the bike and sag-wagon game.
Jumped in head first to the dirty sea water,
nevermind the strong riptides that caused me to totter.
It was then that I made it officially
riding one wheel sea to shining sea.
No more chasing sunsets, wobbling to and fro,
now which direction will life's wind next blow?

me, friend matt, parents kim and dale (yes, my dad has a beard and shaggy hair now)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I can almost hear the waves...

total mileage: 3103!
time zone: PACIFIC
current location: Clarkston, WASHINGTON!!

Finally to Washington, my quasi-final state of the journey, except for occasionally passing into Oregon as I ride along the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. I have not come close to processing the fact that I have about a week left of my journey. Simply ridiculous. Maybe by the time I reach the ocean my unicycling skills will reach a pinnacle and I'll be able to unisurf.

Idaho was by far the most consistent beauty I experienced the entire trip. Probably helped that we were in national forests virtually the entire time, closely hugging wild & scenic rivers for days on end, and going slightly downhill.

Consider this a shout-out to the Three Rivers Resort, where one of the managers and her husband were both clowns in the Ringling Brothers Circus. Big time. It was my honor to receive free showers, a place to camp, and a free delicious meal courtesy of these fellow unicyclists. They also happened to know a guy who unicycled cross-country in the past, who lives in Portland (I'm passing through that area), and we're hoping to meet up. Fantastic!

Be sure to check out the newly-added link (upper right corner of website page) to read about the treatment progress of my Uncle Richard Pleau, who I dearly love and whose diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma inspired this ride.

Here's to a pacific state of mind...

Lara Smith and Don & Jerry Heidtman of the Three Rivers Resort, Lowell, ID
Lolo Hot Springs restaurant for the best turkey reuben sandwich I've ever scarfed down

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Missoula, MT

Hanging out in Missoula today and tomorrow. Got into town last night after about 81 miles, about 50 of which were into a strong headwind (20-25 mph). Now that I've come to realize my love of climbing mountains and reasonable enjoyment of headwind (it kept me cooled off and added a balancing challenge), I admit that I've officially gone insane. I knew it was bad when I started to prefer a headwind to a tailwind, a parallel preference of uphill over downhill.

Upon embarking on the last 25 miles of yesterday's ride (after a refreshingly nutritious snack of cinnamon rolls and Coke), I noticed that my tire pressure was incredibly low. Welcome to my first flat tire of the trip. This was entirely my fault because I am overdue for a tire change but thought that I'd make it through to Missoula simply by rotating my tire a few days back. At least it was a slow leak and allowed me to ride the last 25 miles, albeit more slowly, pumping it up occasionally. Picked up the new tire today, and receive the new tube in the mail tomorrow.

Yesterday's highlight included meeting Forrest Rowell, his brother, mom, and friend on the side of the road. It was an honor to meet and chat with him; he just returned from the NAUCC (North American Unicycle Championships and Convention) where he won the overall Mountain Unicycling competition. That's amazing, and a pleasant surprise while riding along an interstate in the middle of Montana.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

To Montana... and Beyond!

current location: Whitehall, MT
total mileage: 2735
servings of ice cream consumed: 119
% of riding days during which I've cried: 32%
# of types of identifiable roadkill: 26
state #: 8

Welp, here I am in Whitehall, Montana. We made it through the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, crossed the Continental Divide many more times, and rode in awe of the beauty that captured our attention. I have come to love climbing the mountains on my wheel, which is a huge "step" for me, because I used to detest them even on a bike when I had a 50-mph reward waiting for me on the other side. Although, in the more buggy areas, since I often go slowly uphill, I find myself swarmed with flies and mosquitos, much like a sloth grows a bit of moss as it moves so slowly. The mosquitos also found out how tasty my spandex-clad rear end is. It's not a very convenient thing to have itchy mosquito bites on your behind when spending time in public. Riding through the national parks, I felt like a moose constantly getting tourists pulling over and taking my picture, often accumulating crowds. So whether I'm a sloth or a moose, I'm still riding high from the "I like your tan!" comment I received from a woman with a dark complexion... more like tan LINES. The past couple of days, I've enjoyed riding with the Habitat for Humanity Bicycle Challenge (northern route) group. They're a fun lot. Until next time, here's a picture with the Grand Tetons in the background.

Carpe Diem.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Postponed Photographic Procurement and Perusing

Location: Rawlins, WYOMING... where my camera and I reunite! woohoo (thanks Arnie!)

That's right folks, in my 7th state of 10. We've found that the key to riding success and enjoyment is to get on the road by 5.30AM, pedaling between the rising of the sun and the rising of the winds/thunderstorms. Prior to entering Wyoming, we went over Willow Creek Pass (9,631'), and I was honored to have another unicyclist alongside me. Mike Tierney of Aspen, CO, whose specialty is mountain passes, joined me on his 36" wheel and I savored being a part of the majority for the day (two unicycles > one bike -- sorry Dad).

During my brief, 21-mile jaunt on I-80 this morning, I took the opportunity to look intently for a Wyoming license plate (I'm collecting a plate from each state I ride through). I now know that Wyoming must get plenty of tourist income because while searching, I first came across Oregon, Michigan(2), Oklahoma, California, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Utah(2), Maine, Louisiana, and Ontario before finally finding a beat-up Wyoming license plate. Either that, or Wyoming drivers know how to secure their plates better than the rest of us. It was rather comical and provided us with entertainment beyond the normal "MOOO"ing at bored cows. And by the way, I never found a Kansas license plate, so if there are any Kansans that are reading this that can forgive anything negative I ever said about Kansas and happen to have an extra license plate, please send it to:
The Unicyclist Who Puts Her Foot In Her Mouth When Discussing Kansas
2831 Seine Ave.
Davis, CA 95616

The Smash Sisters say adios after spending a day at "Garden of the Gods" in Colorado Springs.

Hooray for a new, lighter, stronger, greener wheel!

A magical afternoon riding into Fairplay Colorado... first look at the snow-capped rocky peaks.

Pedaling up Hoosier Pass.

Hoosier Pass (11,542' and highest point on my entire route).

Daddy and me at Dillon Lake near Frisco, CO.

Myself, Mike, and my dad atop Willow Creek Pass.

Happy Independence Day! [Daddy and I will be in the middle of nowhere, hoping to pass a fireworks stand so we can have a show of our own...]

one wheel for One.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Grand Lake, CO

No pictures this time around, inconveniently at a time when i would probably have the best pictures to post. That's what happens when you have a memory that exists only in the form of a hand-written to-do list, and when "pick up the camera off the park bench before riding 20 more miles" is not on that list. Let's just say that I gave myself quite a scare while trying to process the fact that I lost all my pictures from the trip. Thanks to a few kind souls and many more phone calls, my camera is safe and sound and will be shipped ahead on my route, courtesy of Arnie & Shelley Henden.

In other news, my daddy and my new wheel arrived, and I promptly spray-painted the latter fluorescent green, re-attached the pieces of flare, bent my frame/fork to fit the wide hub without breaking any welds. Been cruising right along. It's a wondrous thing and I definitely noticed the lighter weight as I ascended the Rockies. Only three days so far have my toes gone numb from the morning cold, but it's bearable. Nothing I'm not used to from all-night gallivanting episodes.

The scent of pine was a welcome replacement to the scent of roadkill as I pedaled up thousands of feet elevation gain. Went over Hoosier Pass (11,542') and only stopped once (for a photo-op) on the way up the 4th highest, 2nd steepest pass in Colorado. The Appalachians adequately prepared me for the surprisingly gentle Rocky Mountains. I am all smiles cruising through this state, absorbing as much of the scenery as I can and enjoying quality time with Daddy. When it comes to the amount of joy I am experiencing, I can't put it into words, so I won't even try. I just can't stop smiling, and can't stop thanking Jesus for this awesome creation.

Spending today in Grand Lake, where I worked as a wrangler last summer. Friends, familiar faces, horses, ice cream, and maybe some bowling? Not too bad. ;)

Carpe Diem.

Channel 9 News, Colorado

Arnie & Shellie Henden of Frisco, CO
Sheryl who picked up the camera, of Denver, CO

Click here to donate online. For additional donation info, please see the initial post, "Up and Rolling."

Coker unicycle product info.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Reinventing The Wheel

Ok, so I don't exactly need to reinvent the wheel, but I do need a replacement, which should be arriving via UPS next-day service tomorrow (Saturday). Wow. So yesterday I got my wheel trued (it was a bit out of alignment), but the spokes were tightened too much, causing my wheel to warp like no other as I rode today. After hitting a small rock in the road, my wheel warped so badly that it was jolting the seat forward twice per each revolution. Annoying? Yes. Managed to ride about 5 more miles in that condition, but when I stopped to look at the map, I was unable to get back on due to wheel condition. I hauled the beast on my shoulders about a half-mile before someone stopped to pick me up and give me a ride to the bike shop down the road. One glance at it and the mechanics knew that the wheel was shot. Dead. Kapoot. Sadness ensued, though at least I still rode 47 miles today. This wheel has taken me almost 2000 miles and now must be replaced. Booo.

Thankfully, offered to donate an upgraded wheel for me to use: stronger, and about half the weight. Perfect timing? Yes; tomorrow I begin climbing into the Rockies, and the day after, I will be ascending Hoosier Pass (highest point on the Transamerica Route). The owners of has been so wonderful in working with me (even while they're are on vacation!!) and accommodating my needs to get me a wheel asap. Truly amazing.

Tomorrow Marritt will fly home and my daddy will fly in for the "changing of the guard." Yay for altitude! Yay for mountains! Yay for a new (3-liter!) water bottle!

one wheel for One.

Richard and Kathie Sethman of Colorado Springs, CO
REI in Colorado Springs, CO
Great Divide Bike Shop in Pueblo, CO
Otero Cyclery in Canon City, CO

Click here to donate online. For additional donation info, please see the initial post, "Up and Rolling."

Coker unicycle product info.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!"

current location: Ordway, CO
total mileage: 1934
servings of ice cream consumed: 71
% of riding days during which I've cried: 42%
# of types of identifiable roadkill: 24
level of seat comfort (on a scale of 1 to 11): 9.6
state #: 6
time zone: MOUNTAIN!
# of chamois shorts I've worn holes through: 2

[we propped up the broken "leaving" sign where the missing "welcome" sign was, hoping to mess with the minds of all who enter this dreadful state]

Thank God for state lines. The last two days in Kansas, the wind was around, but behaved itself. I rode my second century, but this time around, I rode 73 miles the next day instead of taking a rest day. My body was not happy with me, as I contined to ride several days afterwards, tallying decent mileage. Funny how as soon as we crossed into Colorado, the wind calmed, then turned into a tailwind (tailbreath?), blowing just my speed so that I felt absolutely no moving air as I somehow survived the 109-degree day of riding through eastern Colorado's desert. Got a bit loopy from dehydration, but Marritt saved me by riding back to meet me with a big Powerade.

[the flatness of Kansas, the flare on my wheel]

Needless to say, I'm alive, and enjoying Colorado's hail storms. Got my first glimpse of the Rockies and I'm pretty much half-way on my journey! My metabolism has finally caught up with me; in a period of about 3 hours, I ate a combo meal from Wendy's, a frosty, 5 very large scoops of ice cream, and half a medium pizza. Just as an example. Seeing other cross-country cyclists is an enthusiasm boost each day. Marritt and I have ridden with a couple of others for the past several days, which has been really fun and a great deviation from the norm. Okay, what I mean by that is I ride by myself all day everyday, and get to hang out with more people in the evening. I guess that's what happens when I only average about 8 mph.

My goal is to come up with some sort of method to eliminate the perma-sleep-deprived, perma-dehydrated state of being I'm attempting to ride with. You know it's bad when your eyelids droop while perched atop a wheel, and when you can't swallow. Not that dry rocky mountain air will help any, but we hated Kansas so much that we vowed to never return.

One wheel for One.

['nuff said]

Jack and Dick of Lyons, KS
Kinder-Morgan of Conway, KS
Annie Pat of Canon City, KS

Click here to donate online. For additional donation info, please see the initial post, "Up and Rolling."

Coker unicycle product info.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

For All My Fellow Nerds...

Just a few simultaneous equations for some mathematical fun. This is the best I can do to portray my day today:

w = 10x
z = 1
x = y
y = 5z
t = 17y

t = total mileage today
w = estimated wind speed, perpendicular to riding direction
x = # of hours of sleep we got last night
y = # of times I was blown off the road (still maintained balance)
z = # of times I was blown off my unicycle (and will have a scar to prove it)

At least the wind kept things a little cooler, honed my balancing skills, and forced me to learn to ride while leaning sideways, keeping my mind somewhat distracted from the saddle sores that often shoot excruciating pain down my legs. Forget that silly talk about Kansas potentially being my favorite state. Apologies, Kansans.

[t=85, w=50, x=5, y=5]

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Toronto, KS

current location: Toronto, KS
total mileage: 1449
longest day: 105 miles!!
servings of ice cream consumed: 51
% of riding days during which I've cried: 43%
# of types of identifiable roadkill: 22
level of seat comfort (on a scale of 1 to 11): 9.5

Wow. So much to say. TOO much to say. Marritt Cafarchia has taken over the "safety escort" position and because we are practically twins, both good and bad comes of it. Good things include laughing, yelling at objects (i.e. hills, towns, hunger, etc) when they make us angry, yelling at things for no reason, singing, mid-day power-naps, camping behind a dumpster (true bums), intensity, and the reminder I received from her one morning: "That's the point of life: to kick your own @$$." Bad things include coming up with lofty plans to maximize mileage and minimize sleep, annnnd... that's about it.

Since I last wrote, I've completed a 105-mile day, which was the best thing I could have done to relieve the mileage pressure I've been putting on myself. I did this even before we entered Kansas, so I'm hoping to get one or two more in before entering Colorado. Speaking of Kansas, hooray for being in my 5th state!! If western Kansas is as flat as all the Kansans say it is, this might be my favorite state of the trip, despite relentless sun and unpredictable winds. I mean, I might even have to send my book home, as I won't be able to read while focusing on balancing in the winds. I've remained pretty much unsunburnt thanks to the BPOTT (best purchase of the trip): a thin, white, long-sleeved shirt.

A lot of the past week or so has been full of personal growth and self-realizations. They're never fun, but always worth it. I won't get into details, but I'll just sum it up by saying that my decision-making motto has become: "In the name of Happiness." The Ozark Mountains made me cry, but mostly because of the pain I experienced due to worn out chamois shorts; hills are no fun, but holes are worse.

When I was little, armadillos used to be my favorite animal. Clearly I had never smelled one. Just when I thought possums were the stupidest animals alive (or dead on the side of the road), along came armadillos, "possums in shells." Send an address if you want a piece of one in the mail. Caution: 90% of armadillos in the southern Missouri region have leprosy. The turtles like to sit in the middle of the road too. What they are thinking, or not thinking, beats me. Another animal that has died on the trip is my "platypus" (my h2o-carrier), which fell and got demolished by a truck. Until further notice, I'm fueling this machine on a 1-liter soda bottle, often having to stop at houses in the middle of nowhere to refill.

I am not riding a ukulele.
I am not doing a marathon.
FedEx drivers are the coolest.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's house is not on a prairie.

one wheel for One.

Four-wheeling on a rest day in Seymour, MO. Felt kinda bad passing the Amish families on their farms, but someone's gotta enjoy technology, so we did... with a wave and a smile, of course. I mean, gimme a break, at least I'm not DRIVING cross-country, right?

Riverview Motel in Mammoth Spring, AR
Spring Dipper Ice Cream in Mammoth Spring, AR
Wendell Bailey, Jill Bailey, and Sarah Sido of Willow Springs, MO
Ray and Allene Howell of Seymour, MO!!!
Marritt, for picking up my new tire and chamois shorts at the out-of-the-way P.O.

Click here to donate online. For additional donation info, please see the initial post, "Up and Rolling."

Coker unicycle product info.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Memphis, or shall I say, Graceland

A few pictures capturing my time in Memphis...

My mom finishes her last day of the journey to Memphis

Marritt comes to bike along, Emily plays hostess

Outside the FedExForum, where the Memphis Grizzlies play, and where Emily works.

A giant catfish sandwich, after eating fried pickles: yes, they do exist, and are quite tasty!

Graceland. 'Nuff said.

BBQ with the Memphis Unicycle Club. Thanks Tommy & crew, I had a great time!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Germantown, TN

current location: Germantown, TN (suburb of Memphis)
total mileage: 966
longest day: 75 miles
servings of ice cream consumed: 33
% of riding days during which I've cried: 38%
# of dogs that have chased me: 10
level of seat comfort (on a scale of 1 to 11): 8

Tennessee: where every bridge is a memorial, every acquaintance warns you of personal safety, and every 20 feet marks a jarring crack in the road.

When a newspaper reporter inquired about my trip, she understood the awareness-raising and fundraising part of my trip, yet remained among the slightly-confused majority who doesn't quite understand why I'm doing the unicycling part of my trip: (I quote) "And you couldn't find something better to do with your summer?"... as if I chose this activity by default, or because I had nothing else to do. I have managed to come up with more tangible reasons why maybe I shouldn't be the only girl on a unicycle this summer - perhaps they will help others relate to and understand the undeniable benefits:

hang out with successful businessmen

encouraging words line your path

lose weight while eating donuts, poptarts, and whole milk for breakfast

free foot massage

free tan

philanthropically save animals' lives

Think about a couple of months of all this and, like, free hair highlights, obvi. Other bonus material includes meeting the man who invented the "Fun Factory" for Playdoh, a woman who won the Tennessee lottery, and getting to learn all about the physiology of maggot-infested armadillos.

This week I crossed paths with the first (hopefully of many) cross-country cyclists: Tom Rand. Seeing another cyclist drastically boosted my enthusiasm! He's riding for a great cause - check it out. P.S. Raise your hand if you think his last name should be Cruise. P.P.S. I'm raising my hand.

Thanks to Ginny Burney of Indianapolis for pointing out that I'm about to cross the Mississippi River... I had not noticed that, as I'm slightly geographically challenged.
Carpe Diem.

Coker Tire Co. in Chattanooga, TN
Bob, Madge, Susan, & Candace Boggild of South Pittsburg, TN
Bobbi Hubbard of South Pittsburg, TN
Jim, the up-and-coming unicyclist of Fayetteville, TN
Sandra Smartt and the other folks of Walgreens in Pulaski, TN
The Richland Inn in Pulaski, TN
Tom Rand, cross-country bicyclist of Memphis, TN
Jim "The Boss," and Kim Harrison of Big Hill Pond State Park, TN
Crossroads County Kitchen in Middleton, TN

Click here to donate online. For additional donation info, please see the initial post, "Up and Rolling."

Coker unicycle product info.

Monday, May 29, 2006

2nd State of 10... At Last!

current location: Chattanooga, TN
total mileage: 645
approximate # of kayaks I've seen in the past 3 days: see total mileage
# of days I've cried: 6
identifiable types of roadkill: 19
servings of ice cream consumed: 23
# of marriage proposals: 1
level of seat comfort (on a scale of 1 to 11): 8.74

Note to self: "Self, scenic tours are meant for driving, not cycling." After learning this the hard way coming into Asheville, my subsequent route included deviating from the Blue Ridge Parkway ASAP. Busier, more direct roads have faster traffic, but an existent shoulder, and (usually) more gradual inclines and declines. Sounds good to me! My mom joined up with me in Asheville and has been riding along on a bike to remind me that I can't coast... I mean, to accompany me for my personal safety. We've had a great time, between steep hills coming out of the Nantahala and Ocoee gorges, dealing with the creepy stalker guy, finding out that Verizon (unlike Visa) is NOT everywhere we want to be, tenting in a wild thunderstorm, a flat tire on her bike, 216 miles, FINALLY arriving in Tennessee, pizza, ice cream, laughing, and pillow fights.

My favorite reactions so far:
- the motorcyclists who pass, subtly glance in their mirror, then shake their head.
- "You're so hot! Will you marry me?!"... yelled from a rafter on the Nantahala River.

Reactions generating my fakest courtesy laughs (ahem.. properly juxtaposed from the reactions above):
- "You're missing a wheel!"
- "Don't fall!" (are we still in kindergarten?)
- "Helmet!" (spoken reprovingly to me as I passed because I was wearing my visor instead. Look, buddy, sometimes skin protection takes precedence over head protection - get over it!)

Hooray for finally reaching The Volunteer State, the land of "Agriculture and Commerce," the 36th biggest state, or shall I optimistically say, the 15th smallest? And now I just hope it won't take another 14 days of riding to get through this second state in my journey....
Carpe Diem.

Carolina Fatz bike shop in Asheville, NC
Eric, Marian, & Stella Larson
Todd Campbell & Jan
Scott's Bikes in Cleveland, TN

Click here to donate online. For additional donation info, please see the initial post, "Up and Rolling."

Coker unicycle product info.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Asheville, NC

current location: Asheville, NC
total mileage: 429
# of days I've cried: 4
identifiable types of roadkill: 14
servings of ice cream consumed: 13
# of dogs that have chased me: 8
level of seat comfort (on a scale of 1 to 11): 9

Safe and sound in Ashevegas, relaxing and catching up on organizational tasks in the Ferguson home. The best way to describe how my quads have felt 24/7 since the beginning of this journey is "swollen." So swollen, in fact, that I've lost most of the muscular definition in my quads, and can't touch my heel to my rear. Despite this lack of muscular cooperation, I was able to ride 24 miles while only resting my bottom once... my crowning achievement for the week.

Between changing terrain, the immeasureable amount of hospitality, and fatigue, I've learned a lot about my surroundings, people, and myself:

- The only time I enjoy a headwind is going downhill, when it becomes a huge relief to my often-aching knees; a headwind any other time makes the flat seem steep and the steep seem steeper.
- If the map notes that a town has services, this may not be accurate, so be prepared for 35 miles without any food or water.
- Maps may also fail to label road names, so be prepared for many miles of extraneous riding.
- In North Carolina, tobacco is a crop still very much a part of the rural economy and lives of rural citizens, as I discovered from passing a contraption consisting of 1 tractor, 4 boxes of tobacco plants, and 5 people. Perhaps the coolest thing I've seen so far.
- The sweetest words to a hungry rider's ears are, "Would you like to come into our house for some refreshments?"
- When people are taken by surprise, they like to stare and point, rarely bothering to wave and/or smile, even if waved at and smiled at.
- Horse-drawn carriages are still used, and when they cross paths with a unicyclist in the middle of nowhere, both parties get a good chuckle.
- Country-folk warn me of city-folk, and city-folk warn me of country-folk. I've met only amazing people in both contexts, so I'd say I have nothing to worry about!
- Dense fog that provides only 15 yards of visibility is a blessing in disguise, forcing me to stay in the present.
- It's okay to walk up parts of 15-mile climbs. I already lost one wheel and all my gears, so I have little left to lose except a little pride.
- If your parents are worried sick about your solo activity, do it anyway, and maybe they'll come with you.... [my mom flies into Asheville today to ride along!]
- Gummi worms, music, and friendly horses can cure a cranky mood.
- Delight = cruising downhill after an exhausting day, rockin' to some Jesus music, a mystical sunset, and optimism undampened by severe fog or wind.

[Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi]

Steve and Debbie Shough
Zack Rothrock
Barry and Lou Ann Dinkins
Lisa & Mickey Hauser
Steve and Margie Wooten
Rick of the 15-mile climb
Ed and Daniel of the Linville Falls campground
Shirley Ferguson

Click here to donate online. For additional donation info, please see the initial post, "Up and Rolling."

Coker unicycle product info.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jamestown, NC

A wonderful two days have brought me to Jamestown, a small town near Greensboro, NC. It is an amazing thing to ride without pain. Wow. Even when starting my ride at 3pm yesterday, I was able to log just about 40 miles yesterday because the miles flew by now that I'm not focusing on how much pain I'm in. Katherine Rinaldi met me in Chapel Hill and welcomed me into her abode where she fed me several quesadillas before riding a bit with me on her bike. Simply scrumptious. Yesterday evening was magical, complete with bluegrass playing in the distance while I cycled through the countryside, a goat farm, lakes, an amazing sunset, taking time to make a daisy chain, and more roadkill. Simply smiles. When I arrived at Snow Camp, NC, Kath and Christy Morgan called me with three questions: (A)Could I use some company? (B)Do I need ice cream? and (C)Is there any way they can talk me out of doing this trip. The answers, quite clearly, were yes, yes, and NO. Needless to say, they hunted me down in the dark, driving a ways just to bring me ice cream and company. Simply supreme. Kath even let me sleep at her house and drove me all the way back in the morning to where I had ridden!

Today I utilized my new solar-powered ipod charger to "rock and roll," as it were (courtesy of Matt Burney... and it doubles as a cell-out phone charger too!). It helped the miles pass; I was getting kinda bored, and a soundtrack to life is nice sometimes. Most of today I rode into a strong to quite strong headwind which brought me a friendly thunderstorm to cycle through this afternoon. Pat Cochran, a kind librarian here in Jamestown provided a hot meal, a hot shower, and a warm bed for me tonight, to my pleasant surprise, eliminating the need to utilize my blonde hair and eyelashes to bamboozle a free hotel room.

Tasks accomplished while riding:
(1)sorting out and deleting all old pix on digital camera
(2)reading a book
(3)getting a map out of my backpack and figuring out where I'm going
(4)wrapping a headlamp around my seatpost
(5)taking off backpack and removing raincoat, attaching jacket to backpack and putting it back on my shoulders
(6)chatting and text-messaging on cell phone.
ain't it great to have no need for handle bars?

Hooray for salty skin, tan lines, and double cheeseburgers.
Carpe Diem.

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.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Onward from Durham, NC

After graduating from Duke this weekend, and spending a few days to frantically pack my life into duffel bags, I will leave Durham this afternoon heading west, west, and further west. A week of family time does a body good, as does a newly-modified unicycle seat. Thanks to the input of Lars Clausen and Keith Cash, one-wheelers who have done the coast-to-coast gig, I was able to put together an amazingly comfortable seat; the phrase "I feel your pain" had returned to its literal meaning.

Thank you to every person who has contacted me about the trip and offered encouragement and support. It means so much to know that there's a community following up with me and helping me along the way, locally and remotely. Thanks also to my friends Ashley Coll and Kaitlin Hancock for the most wonderful shoes in the world. I got the white pirate print. Go figure. ;)

Carpe Diem.

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.

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...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Up and Rolling

The new Coker unicycle arrived and the new air seat has been assembled. This beast of a unicycle is super-fast. And super-fun. Still working on the whole "getting on" factor. Coker Tire Co. has sponsored me for the trip and provided me with the "Big One" unicycle which has a 36" wheel. Oh, and please pardon the ridiculous socks in the picture. Although some of you would expect nothing less of me, it was St. Patrick's day after all...

More importantly, however, I am riding to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My uncle, Richard Pleau, has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a potent plasma cell cancer. Through this personal experience, I have become aware of the LLS and its efforts to save the lives of so many cancer patients. I hope you will take the opportunity to join me in this endeavor by donating to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, helping me surpass my goal of $5,000. To contribute to the cause:

Click here to donate online.


please send donations to:

Unicycle for LLS
c/o Gracie Sorbello
2831 Seine Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
[checks made out to Gracie Sorbello with "Unicycle for LLS" in the memo line]

I plan to leave after I finish my finals, probably May 6, 2006, at which point I'll begin my journey westward... I might even stop by Duke to get my diploma along the way. ;) I'll be updating this during the adventure whenever I can, so check back for progress, but until early May, don't expect much.

Click here to find an adventure info page that's great for distribution, etc.

Carpe Diem...