Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance record

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Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance record

Postby WestcoastPete » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:25 pm

Where to put this one? Touring Australia? Serious biking doesn't have a unicyle section.

This will do.

http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2013/0 ... tnews.html

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THE man unicycling his way around Australia to raise money for cancer research may need an extra pair of underwear while travelling through the Northern Territory.

Actor Samuel Johnson is likely to encounter the Hells Angels bikie gang which is currently travelling in a group of about 150 on the Stuart Highway to Darwin for an annual rally this week.

Johnson arrived in Alice Springs at the weekend and is expected to take the same route as the Hells Angels as he continues to Darwin.

Johnson has typically been wearing a pink polo shirt while riding the unicycle around the country to promote his campaign, in which he promised to participate when his sister Connie was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

He is sure to cut a dashing figure in pink on the one-man bicycle among a sea of leather-clad bikies on the Outback road.

Johnson is best known for his roles on The Secret Life of Us, Crackerjack, Underbelly II and Network Ten's Rush.

Plenty of career accolades have come his way.

He's received Logie nominations, an AFI Award and an Australian Centenary Medal in the 2000 Queen's Honours list.

He's very proud of all of this, but none of it is as important to him as his beloved sister who continues to battle cancer.

Johnson is aiming to raise $1 million and break a Guinness World record for the longest journey travelled on a unicycle.

The current record is 14,686.82km across 48 states of America.


Campaign website
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by BNA » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:17 pm

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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby foo on patrol » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:17 pm

That is some serious aim to attempt. :shock:

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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:15 am

For the technically minded:

The unicycle is a Nimbus Nightrider. It has a 36" wheel which is the largest that has a pneumatic wheel. (There are several builders of both the unicycles and several of the tyres/tubes btw.) All serious distances are done on large wheel unis. I'd be the only excpetion.

It has a disc brake as it is almost impossible to deliver adequate torque at the rim when you need it. ie When you need to stop the wheel from running out front of you or when you wish to decelerate significantly. The brake really must be great quality as you do not want any grabiness. It is really just an assist to the normal use of legs for the same purpose and a riders control of legs is very delicate and good. The brake must be the same. From memory it is the first off-the-shelf uni with hydraulic actuators.

Samuel may have a Schlumf hub gear fitted. This is an epicyclic gear giving two : 1:1 and 1:1.5. This would give the uni around 60 gear inches, still pretty lame by bike standards but certainly preferable to my 24" or his 29" that he used just for the media-dense start. (The tyre is fairly fat making the 36" rim a 40" wheel.) Changes can be done while mounted but not at any speed - the rider more or less props up for a moment as his ankle gets to a certain point at which time he kicks a little button that protrudes from the axle. If Samuel is using a gear it would be a very difficult maneuvre to nail, especially on a 36" rim. The Schlumf is the only gear that can change ratios while riding and is supposed to be quite durable in the second version.

The aero bars are useful for extra fore and aft control as well as steering which is otherwise quite difficult and inelegant on a large (and heavy) unit like this. Also gives much needed space to attach things.

On these the number of times that you do a UPD (unplanned dismount) goes up a lot, the speeds will be fairly high at times and the height is high. Hence the need for a lot of armour. Helmet, shin pads, wrist supports, etc. Unlike my ride, he would go to ground a lot on UPDs. Falls though are usually less ugly and painful than on a bike.

At a guess a setup like this would be around $1,000. Addition of a gear would bump it up to $3,000.

These things are hard to learn to ride but, like all unicycles, time and distance gives the required confidence and comfort. They are not at all uncommon.

Legally he should not be on most of the roads required to set this record - there aren't many 50kph highways in the country. As it is such a public event then I imagine therefore that the organisers will have had some discussion with authorities.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby Summernight » Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:17 am

Thanks for that, ColinOldnCranky. That was very interesting and a great background to the equipment choice.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby Ozkaban » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:39 am

Thanks Colin. Very interesting.

Love this quote:
Johnson arrived in Alice Springs at the weekend and is expected to take the same route as the Hells Angels as he continues to Darwin.

How many routes are there from Alice to Darwin excluding 4WD only dirt tracks???
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby FuzzyDropbear » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:45 am

Geez, that's a serious bit of cycling (and a serious looking unicycle)!

Thanks for the info Col, always been intrigued by unicycles but I've never really looking into them too far.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby barefoot » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:23 pm

I dips my hat to him.

I rode my (20" beginners) uni around the block on Sunday, and I'm still limping from muscle soreness in my thighs.

It would take a lottalotta work to get unicycle-fit enough to even think about attempting a ride like this.

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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby MattyK » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:51 pm

No Bull.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby Summernight » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:15 pm

I just noticed... Has he got pink nail polish on?? :shock:
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:32 pm

I was mistaken on the hydraulic actuator which, as near as I can determine is only factory fitted to the Oracle, not the Nightrider that Sam is using. Of course, it can be fitted but looking at the grips he has standard mechanical actuation. Still pretty good.

He also has a Nimbus Gel Seat - pretty good but they do have a softer one. I imagine that he will be feeling a lot of pain on some days.

If he has not added a hub gear then it is a standard uni fitted with the optional aero bars as far as I can tell.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby Summernight » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:02 pm

How do you use aero bars on a uni? Do you get your body forward or something?
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:20 pm

Summernight wrote:How do you use aero bars on a uni? Do you get your body forward or something?

The first thing to appreciate is that a big wheeled unicycle is not an easy ting to ride well. I managed to learn to free-mount a giraffe entirely off youtube in less than a week. I didn't know anyone who had ever ridden one and friends who are not generally negative told me I wouldn't do it. That is a way of saying that I am not a slow learner. But the few times that I have hopped onto a 36" uni I have realised how difficult it is to become a competent and comfortable rider. Like most things in unicycling you have to be committed and do a lot of time and a lot of distance.

The aero bar is a very popular extra fitting to help tame the beast.

Firstly it enables you to finely adjust weight forward and aft for balance without using the pedals. Pedals, do not deliver as much tangential force at the outside of the bigger wheels for the same pedal pressure so this is a big blessing.

They also enable you to take some weight off the seat and onto the bar much as you would on a bike - great for a bit of relief on the bum. For any unicyclist another big blessing.

Any significant change in direction on a big wheel is not easy.You can only lean into a turn so far on a big wheel before it accelerates out from under you as you progress further into the turn. Instead of leaning then, to turn sharply then, your turning technique become really ugly - all wild jerky counter-rotations with flailing arms and violently twisting back. With the bars (I am told) it is quite easy to steer reasonably tightly.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby John Lewis » Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:55 pm

I recall a couple rode unis from Darwin to Adelaide a year or three back. Its online somewhere. Quite an adventure.
I look forward to following this ride.

John
Edit: Links

http://unitramps.com/

http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/co ... 6064458390
Last edited by John Lewis on Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby Summernight » Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:46 am

So it's not really the same use for aero bars as on a normal bike (ie. to assume a more aero position in order to go faster with less energy use). They are for greater control?
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:13 pm

Summernight wrote:So it's not really the same use for aero bars as on a normal bike (ie. to assume a more aero position in order to go faster with less energy use). They are for greater control?

You got it. Aero is an inherited term, not really indicative of it's main function.

Alternate terms include handlebars, water bars or simply bars. However I think Aero bars or T-Bars have found most favour.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:42 pm

barefoot wrote:I dips my hat to him.

I rode my (20" beginners) uni around the block on Sunday, and I'm still limping from muscle soreness in my thighs.

It would take a lottalotta work to get unicycle-fit enough to even think about attempting a ride like this.

tim

Actually probably less than you may think and less than for attempting an extreme cycling run.

But what IS important IMO would be establishing the setup by some advance trial and error - seating and crank length mostly. Riding daks too. And, of course, a bit of recent calous on the butt. Samuel is not a stranger to long charity rides - Melbourne to Adelaide I think - so setup would have been covered from day one.

The significant problem I would guess at is that on a unicycle you cannot ignore muscle tiredness like you can in lots of other activities. Losing a bit of technique and finesse but pushing on past it regardless may work on a regular bike. But on a unicycle the fine motor control has to be with you every turn of the crank. What you do with the trailing leg has to tie in very exactly with what is happening with the other leg as well as what is happening under the tyre at every inch of the ride. And that is down to engrams engrams engrams.

I do my age a few times a year (it's a unicyclist thing). On a couple of occasions, after five or six hours, those legs have gotten a little wobbly. Those endgrams are out the window. When that has happened I have had to sit down on the side of the road and do 15 minutes of Sudoku. And then ride for ten before feeling it again and then have to do another 15 of sudoku.

The 36" is would be way more susceptible to that loss of fine motor control than what I have ever experienced. I imagine that some days Samuel Johnson would be doing nothing but UPDs after a few hours. No amount of extra training or fitness beyond what he already has is going to make it any better.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby Cowcorner » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:54 pm

For anyone who's interested, the Today show on channel 9 is interviewing him tomorrow morning (18 April).
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:21 pm

Those of you in my town, Perth, Sam is arriving this Friday and carrying on like any unicyclist behaves - foolishly - all weekend.

I am posting details as they come to hand on the thread "Lets welcome Samuel Johnson to Perth" at http://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=65141&p=978626#p978626
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby John Lewis » Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:31 pm

Just thought I'd bring this thread back to life.

Sam arrived in Albany yesterday and spent this morning outside the Bendigo Bank where we all had a chance to meet him,hear his story and contribute to breast cancer research.

The link to the site loveyoursister.org is at the beginning of this thread. You might go have a read and see where Sam has been if you haven't been to look yet. Do contribute if you can.

Interestingly Sam's unicycle is direct drive and doesn't have gears as some big wheel unis do. I asked about UPD's and he said he'd had too many to count but always rode and didn't walk.

I was told that the only bits of the unicycle that haven't been repaired or replaced were the seat post and the cranks.
The frame cracked on the Oodnadatta track, the bearings have been replaced,the seat likewise.
He has been through two tyres, fourteen tubes, three rims and several hubs as the flanges had cracked or spokes pulled out.
Later today he had a challenge from, I think it was the local ABC, to ride up the ZigZag. That I'd have liked to have seen.

Anyway, here are a few shots that I got.

The Crew Arrive.

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The Uni.

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Sam Speaking to the Mob

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Another Shot of Sam

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Yours Truly Trying one of Sam's Bike Collection.

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(That wasn't hard at all)

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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:23 pm

John Lewis wrote:Just thought I'd bring this thread back to life.

Sam arrived in Albany yesterday and spent this morning outside the Bendigo Bank where we all had a chance to meet him,hear his story and contribute to breast cancer research.

The link to the site loveyoursister.org is at the beginning of this thread. You might go have a read and see where Sam has been if you haven't been to look yet. Do contribute if you can.

Interestingly Sam's unicycle is direct drive and doesn't have gears as some big wheel unis do. I asked about UPD's and he said he'd had too many to count but always rode and didn't walk.

I was told that the only bits of the unicycle that haven't been repaired or replaced were the seat post and the cranks.
The frame cracked on the Oodnadatta track, the bearings have been replaced,the seat likewise.
He has been through two tyres, fourteen tubes, three rims and several hubs as the flanges had cracked or spokes pulled out.
Later today he had a challenge from, I think it was the local ABC, to ride up the ZigZag. That I'd have liked to have seen.


While it may seem a no-brainer to go for the extra gear-inches, gears on a 36 are not that common even for distance - it makes it so much harder to NOT do unplanned dismounts (UPD) off the front. And, at the speed that a rider will be going he is going to have a decent fall.

I understand that, while he has had the expected hundreds of UPDs, only twice has he gone to ground.

Not surpised about the breakages - I have managed to break cranks, wear out a lot tyres, went through several seats and even managed to break a hub. And very little of mine is outside of mild Perth on bike paths and regular roads at considerably slower speed.

However, the bearings should have lasted well into and beyond. I guess it was, as with my broken hub, just one of those bits of luck.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby John Lewis » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:49 pm

G'day Colin,

Must say I find it hard to visualize gears on a uni but then I'm thinking of low speed, idling and the like.
We had a chat about the Unitramps ride from Darwin to Adelaide. Sam told me he visited and picked their brains a bit. I think they had gearing but could be wrong. As a side note he mentioned what keen and helpful folk they were.
There was a great picture of Sam on the front of the local Weekender paper and a good write up too.

I admire him for his determination and what he is doing. great to see someone riding for a cause and trying to make a difference.

John
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:32 pm

John Lewis wrote:G'day Colin,

Must say I find it hard to visualize gears on a uni but then I'm thinking of low speed, idling and the like.


Thats Unitramps. And yes, they did use gears. They are Schlumf, sometime badged as KH Uni (Kris Holm) and are the only ones that are shifted while riding.

The gearing is epicyclic like the old sturney-archer three speeds of the seventies. There are two ratios, 1:1 and 1:1.5 (close to anyway). The change is done by kicking the end of a rod protrudign out of the hollow crank-shaft. THis toggles a movement in the gear in the hub. To change back you kick with the other side. The kicking is by way of the inside ankle as the foot comes up the trailing cycle.

The first version of the gear had an issue with dirability improved on the second model.

As far as I understand, it requires the rider to sort of stall for that instant so it is both difficult and requires the ride to re-accelerate somewhat. So changes are not done constantly as you would on a bike.

If you see any pics of their uniicycles you will see a little silver dot in the ends of the shaft - they are the kick points, the ends of the shifting rod.

Last I saw the price had come down to $2000. There was a time they were around $3,500! Sorta makes the unicycle an accessory to the gears.
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Re: Samuel Johnson aiming to break unicycling distance recor

Postby RonK » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:00 am

Did anybody catch Sam's appearance on Adam Hills Tonight.

What a character this man is - don't miss the segment where he is challenged to eat a live huntsman spider. :shock: :shock: :shock:
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