AIDS Ride for Life

September 10, 2005

Saturday, September 10th we participated in the annual AIDS Ride for Life.  We rode a 50 mile route from Seneca Falls to Ithaca, and raised $3,854 for this great cause. Our team consisted of five riders ranging in ages from 14 to 43. They were Brendan Kelley, Bryan Ludgate, Dave Sprowls, Keith Epstein, and Robbert van Renesse.  Brendan, Bryan and Dave rode 36'' wheels, and Keith and Robbert rode 29'' wheels.

Our training started July 10th, which was 18 miles in three hours.  Here's a picture of Robbert, Brendan, Dave, and Keith after this ride. Notice the tiny 24'' wheels...

We tried to add about 12% distance each week.  The training turned out to be incredibly effective.  After the first few training rides we would be tired and sore, and recovery would take a few days.  After the much longer AIDS Ride we were tired, but not terribly sore and recovery was very quick.

On Saturday September 10th we started 9:15am in Seneca Falls, long after the bicyclists that left Stewart Park at 7am, but approx. 60 miles ahead of them.  Here's a picture of us in Seneca Falls (Brendan, Robbert, Dave, Keith, and Bryan):

Our first 19 miles stretch was to the Hosmer Winery. We didn't expect to see any of the bicyclist, but at 10:45 we were passed by a very fast group of 5 bikes (including one "round rowing bike") that would actually do the 100 miles in 5 hours.  We arrived at the Hosmer Winery at 11:15, where we ate our lunch.

We got back on the road a little after noon to go on to Taughannock Park, a 14 mile stretch.  Now we were being passed by bicyclists very regularly, and they were very encouraging and said very nice things to us.  It was a beautiful day, and although the sun was now beating down on us, we had a nice breeze in our backs.

Notice the redshift?

We arrived at Taughannock Park at approximately 1:30, and took another break.  We got back on our wheels around 2pm, and arrived at the AIDS Ride finish line around 3pm after another 8 miles.  We were welcome very warmly.  Although we made a quick stop, we still had another five miles to do, so we did the Cayuga Waterfront Trail twice, and officially got to the finish line at 3:30.  We averaged almost 7.5 mph.  If you subtract the breaks, we averaged about 10 mph! At 5:15 we did the Victory Ride to Stewart Park, which was 4 miles at a very high pace (exceeding 12 mph) as we did it together with the bicyclists.

Here you can see us arrive at Stewart Park.  The organizers requested us to head the group, but there are about 250 bicyclists behind us (l-to-r: Keith, Robbert, Brendan, Paul, and Bryan).

Again we were welcomed very warmly.  There was a party with food and speeches.  The atmosphere was great.  Here you can see us very satisfied at the south end of the lake (Bryan, Dave, Brendan, Robbert, and Keith):


We all have many people to thank.  This includes our sponsors and families, and the organizers, volunteers, and other sponsors of the AIDS Ride.  We'd like to thank in particular June Shen-Epstein, who has dropped us off in Seneca Falls and dropped off our lunch at Hosmer Winery, and also provided us with food for our training rides and the AIDS Ride itself.  She also took the pictures above.  Thanks much to the many bike riders who shouted encouragements at us as they passed us at great speed.  We're very grateful to the masseuses at the AIDS Ride finish.  We'd also like to thank Ann Carter and Marcy Wehling of STAP for the incredible job they did with the organization of the ride.

Brendan made a nice slide show. MPEG format (230 MB)   QuickTime format (18 MB)

For additional pictures, please check out:

Click here for an article that appeared in the Ithaca Times.  (We didn't actually use 10'' wide tires though...)


... Very seriously, are you sure this is doable ? I believe a unicycle does not give you any glide advantage, like a bike does - you have to spin the wheel manually for every inch of forward travel. So this is pretty close to running/walking 50 miles, which is way beyond a marathon. Even 25 miles sounds insane. Please please please get a second opinion on this.

... but they must also use their locomotive abilities to maintain balance and direction, unlike a bicycle. i suppose you must improve your efficiency to some degree as you get used to it and you can balance with less effort, but still... long distance unicycling? I wonder... could a coasting unicycle be developed? Hmmm. Well, congratulations to the unicyclists. I hope they got paid overtime!

... One cyclist said he saw bikers leaving Hosmer winery and couldn't believe that some bikers stopped for wine! Then he saw they all had one wheel.. so he thought no wonder they needed wine!  Another group saw the gang ahead with blue shirts and thought you guys were real show offs waving your hands around instead of holding on to handle bars. After they caught up they were amazed... no handlebars

... I don't know if you were near enough to Stewart park to hear it, but as we slowed to wait for the whole group to stop and move into Stewart Park together, the unicyclists made their way past the bikers and a huge cheer went up from the bikers...we may have been tired, but at least we got to coast from time to time!!!!! ...  As someone who rode a unicycle as a kid, I am completely impressed!!!

[Jerry Dietz, organizer]  In my experience, the unicyclists are far and away the most unusual and impressive participants I have seen. It is difficult enough to stay on a regular bike.

Our Training Schedule

Sunday, July 10th, 5:30pm:  we rode from the Greenstar parking lot to Taughannock Falls park and back in about 3 hours.  The total distance was about 18 miles, so we're off to a good start! Participating were Keith, John, Harold, Dave, Robbert, and Brendan.

Friday, July 15th/Saturday July 16th:  Brendan, Keith, and Robbert rode to Robbert's cottage, spent the night, and rode back. It was 23 miles each way, and it took about 4 hours both times. It was hard both times, and it showed we should stick to the 12% increases and not overdo it. Saddle soreness is the worst problem, but our muscles also need training. We had some good fun though.

Saturday July 22nd, 9:30am - 12:30pm:  We did a 3 hour MUNI ride for a change of pace at Hammond Hill.  It was a very different kind of training (more heavy breathing involved), but it was a lot of fun.

Thursday  July 28th.  Left Caroline Town Hall around 5:45pm and rode for about 4 hours.  Did approx. 21 miles.  The training is definitely working;  it's getting a lot easier.  Saddle soreness still a problem though.  Bryan rode with us on his brand new Coker.  Brendan borrowed a Coker from Charles and plans to ride it in the 50-mile ride.

Saturday Aug 18th, 3pm.  Because of scheduling difficulties, people have been training on their own.  Dave got a Coker and did a 45-mile ride!  Also great, Bryan has decided to join our team, so there's now 5 of us:  Brendan, Bryan, Dave, Keith, and myself (Robbert).  Saturday we did our last ride together (actually, Brendan couldn't make it): two 18 mile stretches with a pizza dinner in the middle.  We rode from Robbert's cabin to Seneca Falls and back.  We averaged about 9.5 miles an hour, not counting the breaks we took.  It wasn't easy, but 50 miles is definitely within our reach.

Saturday Sep 3rd, 9am.  Keith and Robbert explored part of the Black Diamond Trail on MUNIs.  We started at the Children's Garden in Ithaca and rode up (first following the NYSEG electricity cables for a short time).  We went up as far as Houghton Road, a little over 6 miles.  The trail is not paved well, so it was quite challenging, but also interesting.  The trail is supposed to go further north but we lost track of it there.  Instead, we rode up the hill to Dubois, turned back to Ithaca, rode down Glenwood Heights Road, and then followed Route 89 back to Ithaca.  Although it was only 13 miles or so (well short of the 44 miles our schedule called for...), it took us about 3 hours and it was good exercise.


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