Shortly after I left off taking pictures and headed home, the rain began. It was cold and heavy. Some of the riders dropped out. They were on their way from Annapolis Royals to Hubbards, a town on the south shore of Nova Scotia. The race is billed as a unicycling equivalent of the Tour de France. At the end of the second day, it was neck and neck, the Germans leading the Kiwis by only six minutes, with the Australian rider in Team Smile just two minutes behind.

Beth Amiro, one of the Nova Scotia riders, had no idea the long-distance unicycling community was so big. She didn’t even know there was a community. She started riding a unicyle as a child, then took it up again in her twenties. For many locals, it is nothing more than a circus toy. Beth would love to have a dollar for every time someone asked if she knew how to juggle.

It is obvious from the turnout for this race that some people take it very, very seriously. The best riders in this race are expected to zip along between 20 and 25 kms an hour on their 36 inch wheels. The race includes time trials and a criterium, a multi-lap race around a small circuit. Today is last day, a gruelling final stage in rugged Cape Breton.

William Sklenars, one of the young riders from New Zealand, learned to ride when his sister moved away from home to a flat in town. He needed a form of transportation to visit her and a uncicyle “seemed the most sensible choice” at the time. He studies music, rides his wheel frequently and is “stoked” to be representing New Zealand on an international scale.

The sport has become popular enough to develop splinter groups. In addition to the small-wheel unicycles and the large-wheel, long distance unicycles, there are a handful of hardcore cyclists who ride the “ultimate wheel.” It is a unicycle without a seatpost or saddle. Nothing more than a wheel with pedals. It is said to be extremely difficult to ride. I’ll take their word for it.

Catch up with the race on the web site: http://ridethelobster.com or on the blog “One Wild Ride” at http://ridethelobster.wordpress.com/

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