by 4:30 I was out the door of my apartment. still very dark and kind of chili for my comfort level, but not too bad. just one day ago, or to be more precise, 8 hours ago, I had this idea that was going to be one of my most adventurous events to date. i wanted to hike up a fourteen thousand foot mountain, and then ride my mountain unicycle all the way down. the trip would involve carrying a 20 pound unicycle and 20 pound pack for about 3.5 miles with a 3500 ft elevation gain. it shouldn’t be bad, i had all day to do it.

I had climbed several 14ers this summer and had a pretty good idea what I was in for…. except for the unicycling part. I had googled around the night before researching a good mountain to climb, and one that would allow bikes. I know a unicycle is not really a “bike”… but I’m pretty sure that the spirit of the law makes me a bike, and i would rather be grouped with bikes, than hikers (nothing against hikers, i just really like bikes). i found a list of peaks created by some guy who claims to have ridden down on his unicycle. i wouldn’t be the first to do this but who cares…right? after some light comparisons between the peaks, i decided on gray’s peak. this would be the one for me. 14270 feet about 3.75 miles one direction and about a 3000 foot elevation gain from trail head to peak. perfect.

by 6:30 i was on the dirt road that leads to gray’s peak. a small rough dirt road. the directions said that if you have a low clearance vehicle, you might want to park at the start of the road and walk the 3.5 mile to the trail head. ok, but i’ll just drive a little further up the road and park on the shoulder when i need to. one mile in i see a guy hiking up the road. sucker!! haha… i bounced and scraped along as i past this cautious fellow in the pale morning light. funny thing was, every time i drove over a rock or passed a ditch… i thought to myself, “ok this is it, i should stop here”. as soon as i thought that, the road would mellow out and i could press onward.

it wasn’t long before i came to a sign that read, “1.4 miles to the trail head.” as soon as i passed this sign with a certain amount of “feel good” the road tilted upward and curved to the left. it was one lane at this point and within a few hundred feet of the curve, a huge rut was cut into the road by a season rain and run off. oh crap. i glanced in the mirror, and because of the curve and steepness of the road, it seemed too difficult to backdown at least in this car it was. so, onward i drove. the rut was angled and there were at least a couple rocks that were in all the wrong places. i angled my car and gunned it over the rut, not even able to really see where i was heading. woohoo! i was successful!!! damn, this lowrider civic made it up the hill and over the rut… sweet. i was pretty happy at this point. the road was mellow for the remainder or the drive… at least it seemed mellow compared to what i had just gone through.

the trailhead was almost full, nothing but 4×4 trucks and suv’s …and now one civic. one badass civc!
i don’t know what time it was, but it must have been early, because the sun had not yet made it over the valley, and it was still pretty cold. i packed my stuff and strapped my unicycle on to my small commuter backpack, and just as i put on the pack, i decided that should probably use the toilet before i spend all day on this mountain…. especially since it was mostly above tree-line. if you know what I mean.


i took off the pack and headed over to the friendly near by public toilet. i really hate public mountain restrooms because they are usually stinky dirty, and dark. much to my surprise, this one wasn’t half bad. clean and not stinky with a good amount of light…it’s going to be a good day i thought. the door lock was a little weird but i managed to jiggle it around and made sure the latch went into the opposing hole. it was a good idea that i decided to stop in, because by the time i finished locking the door i really had to go. actually it seemed like i didn’t have a moment to spare. as i sat there doing my business… i could hear people meandering around the parking lot getting ready for their hike. after a while i could kind of imagine where people were and i could hear one guy talking as he was getting near the restroom…then silence. suddenly with out hesitation he yanked the door open busting the stupid worthless lock that was held on by what must have been stripped rusted out screws. I sat there with a surprised look on my face (i’m only guessing i looked surprised.. because i was in slight shock)

“whoa!! sorry!”, he said as he closed the door.

“it’s alright, man no worry” i said in my haha-nothing-just-happened-voice.

son of a bitch! i hate when that happens. it’s not that it happens a lot, but it does happen, and i don’t think i have ever been on this end of it before. as i left the restroom he was no where to be found. i’m guessing he wanted nothing to do with an after-conversation. and neither did i.

i quickly got back to the car, got all my shit together and started hiking up the trail. the trail starts out very steep. my violent pace was sooned governed by my non-aclimated lungs. after some heart pumping pain… i finally settled into a slower sustainable pace and continued up to my destination. after about a half mile or so, i realized that i didn’t pack my shin guards. fuck! there was no way i was going to risk riding down this thing without my guards. i turned around and headed back to the car.

i passed a bunch of people on the way down, and most said nothing about the unicycle that was conspicuously strapped to the back of my backpack. one lady however, stopped and asked me what i was going to attempt. she was utterly impressed when i told her my plan. it was cool that she had the vision to see how ambitious my goal was and to think that i could do it… even though i hadn’t really even started.

as i got back to the trailhead, a couple hikers asked me if i knew of any water around here. i told them no, but i had some in my car that i could give them. they followed me back and accepted my water and off they went. no questions about my unicycle… just thanks. i got my shin guards and headed back up the trail. as i entered the trail i noticed a forest service sign that symbolically said that the following was not allowed: bikes!!!!! wtf?

i was going to go anyway, but remembered the spirit of the law and decided to go home and look for a new mountain. dejected, i walked back to the car. a group of asian tourist were gathered around taking pictures of themselves. one of them spotted me and started toward me.

“hey, excuse me!”

“yes”,i said, fully expecting to answer a round of unicycling questions.

“can you take a picture of us?”


i took a bunch of pictures of them with several of their cameras. each picture was reviewed by them … i guess for quality purposes.

“thank you very much!”

“you’re welcome, have a nice day!”

i headed back to my car, drove the long road back home. i had one more day to try another.

a few years ago i  used to wake up  very early in the morning and ride my mountain unicycle on the trail before work.  i would leave my house in the dark and get to the trail head just before the break of light.  i loved doing this trail, i had been doing this for years, and i slowly but surely i was able to master each section.

as far as safety is concerned, unicycling is actually a little safer than mountain biking.  i know most people are probably thinking that i am out of my mind for saying that, but i truly think so.  i have been riding a unicycle for so many years, i don’t even think about falling.  not that i don’t fall, it’s just that i fall so often it’s not a big deal anymore.  i fall hundreds of times, but i rarely get injured.  i always use body armor for my shins and knees and a helmet for my head.  the difficult part for me is strength and power.  it takes a lot of strength to climb hills and a lot of power to get over obstacles like rocks and logs.  falling is more like a controlled dismount.

so i guess my sense of reality is a bit twisted. when people see me riding on the trail, i always get comments like, “you’re crazy”, “you’ve got a lot of guts”, or “oh my god, be careful”.  when i hear these comments i always wonder why they think it’s dangerous. i don’t think it’s dangerous, i do think it is extremely difficult…. and yeah, i think i am “crazy” for attempting something many people can not even do on mountain bikes.  i think i have “guts” for not giving up, even though every muscle in my body is trembling, my heart rate is well over 180, and i’m sweating so profusely, it looks like i just had water poured over my head.  i don’t think of myself as a dare devil.  i don’t think i am in the same thrill seeker category as base jumpers, fmx, and other adrenalin junkies.  i think i am somewhere around the same category as a rock climber….don’t ask me why, i just think we have a lot in common for some reason.

so one morning before work,  as i sat in my car at the trail head waiting for more daylight…. i began to think.  recently i had read in the news paper that there were mountain lions killing people in california (more specifically mountain bikers).  there had also been mountain lions spotted colorado at the time, but none at this particular trail.  i worried about this for a moment but figured that my odds were pretty low.  i decided to go right then, because i wanted to get to work as a decent hour.  so i took off, and as i entered the trail i passed a sign that i had passed hundreds of times in the past, but this time it kind of stuck in my head.

“beware of mountain lions”

for the next couple of miles that was all i thought about.  as i passed bushes and rocks the thoughts of a mountain lion stalking me began to take over.  the fact that i was breathing extra hard and looked rather vulnerable to a mountain lion, made me even more worried.  what if i did get attacked and even killed that morning? the head lines would probably read:

“Unicyclist Killed by Mountain Lion”

in my imagination i could see mr. public in his robe and coffee reading the paper with his family around the breakfast table.  he shakes his head and says, “shouldn’t have been unicycling”

maybe mr. public was right; i shouldn’t have been unicycling… but most likely, i shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

a while back it was earthday…and i wanted to do something special that day. i haven’t been riding my bike that much, but still, riding my bike to work didn’t seem that special. besides i figured that there would be tons of people out there doing the same thing. so i decided to ride my unicycle to work!


my average speed was about 10mph. it was pretty tough, mostly because my but is not used to being in the saddle that long. only one horn honk.


i really don’t feel like talking about it right now :(