Archive for cherohala skyway

Bruce Keenan

Bruce Keenan

I had a great meeting this morning at the Norcross IHOP with Bruce Keenan, founder and director of the Himalayan Children’s Charities.

Bruce just got back from Nepal where he set up a trekking company to raise  money for the orphan children of that isolated and depressed area. He and his  wife Susan are also holding a fundraiser in Atlanta on November 14th and hope to attract a good crowd.

Bruce told me his trekking company is the only one in that area truly set up for – and dedicated to – a specific charity.  I’m looking to attract a bevy of unicyclists to ride the Cherohala Skyway in April, 2010 to raise money.  If you ride a unicycle and want to participate, know any movers or shakers who would like to help . . . or just want to donate a few bucks to a great cause, contact me or Bruce at our respective websites or blogs.

Also appreciate any comments you might have!

Categories : Charity
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Terry Peterson, the "Unigeezer"

Terry Peterson, the "Unigeezer"

I thought I was crazy… I finally found someone “crazier” than me!

Join me on Tuesday, October 20th at 6 pm on Logical Soul Talk where I get to interview my new friend and mentor Terry Peterson. Terry calls himself as “the Unigeezer” since he’s a 53-year old Unicycle rider, but that doesn’t exactly describe what he actually does!  Like me, he has turned his golden years into a love for traveling around on one-wheelers.  Unlike me, however, he apparently has taken his love of the sport to extreme heights!

I’ll be asking Terry about the moment he made the decision to do REALLY extreme stuff – like ride his Uni off-road on the Hummingbird Trail in Simi Valley, California (see video below)!!  While I’m in training to ride the Cherohala Skyway across the TN-NC border sometime in the spring, I feel some relief knowing I’ll be on a paved road.

If I can talk Terry into coming East and riding with me, while I may not be the FIRST to traverse the Skyway, at least I would (probably) still be the OLDEST, since I beat Terry’s Geezer Factor by four years . . .

Check out this totally insane video . . . and yes, I’ll probably be asking Mr. Peterson about his “family jewel” protection!

michae craig on unicycle

Michael Craig on Unicycle

I made the bold claim back in April of this year that I would be the first one to traverse the 43-mile Cherohala Skyway across the TN-NC mountains on a unicycle. Blind ambition led me to fantasize about how wonderful that was going to be, and how nice the views, etc., etc..

What I didn’t count on were the multiple problems that would arise from such an undertaking.  You see, unlike a bicycle, most unicycle riders (at least the ones I know) can’t “coast” down a hill. Downhill riding on one wheel is a scary proposition requiring a massive effort to put pressure to almost back-pedal in order to prevent an out-of-control lunge forward.  I would have to invest in some hand brakes for the wheel, then learn to use them…

And pedaling uphill – especially over multiple steep inclines – requires a leg strength and forward-falling balance that will take a long time to master.

The other problems involve traffic (heavy in the summer) and riding space (no shoulder).   And drivers in the mountains might get a little impatient with a one-wheeler blocking their path for several miles.  Without a shoulder, sharing the road with motorists is required, and one irate driver could send a poor cyclist over the mountain at any time.

I’ve naturally hesitated to make this ride . . . but now I’m reconsidering.

Bruce and Susan Keenan of Atlanta have inspired me to get involved with their non-profit Himalayan Children’s Charities, and I want to ride to raise money for the noble effort of saving Nepalese orphans from a life of poverty and suffering.

Stay tuned to the blog – from time to time I will post an update of my progress, and let you know when and where this ride will take place.  Right now I envision it will happen sometime in the Spring before the traffic gets too heavy (and dangerous), but I will let you know.

Himalayan Children's Charities

Himalayan Children's Charities

If you’re open to doing something for the orphans right now, visit for details on how you can donate to this worthy cause.  There is also a Donor’s Event scheduled at Tribble Antiques,  747 Miami Circle, Atlanta, GA 30324 from 6:30-9:30 pm on Saturday, November 14, 2009. Call 678-575-9912 for details and directions.

In spite of hard times here in America, the orphans in Nepal have it much worse.  Help me and the Keenans in this effort to fund a home and education for these kids.  Thanks!


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July Fourth Trail Ride on My Uni

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Michael CraigI didn’t know what to expect.

I took a sort of “scouting expedition” to Tennessee this past weekend to determine the suitability of riding the Cherohala Skyway on my Unicycle next year.  My early optimism quickly vanished. 

I discovered that the CS is rather lacking in its  accommodation to cycles of any persuasion, whether a  bicycle OR unicycle.  There is no road shoulder at all, and the traffic is rather thick (at least during this Fourth of July weekend), and the curves and hills were a bit trickier than I remembered! 

I figured I have three options as far as riding the Cherohala: 

1) Join the bicycle event next June so as having extensive company during the ride,  2) Ride in the dead of winter when traffic will be very slight or non-existent, or 3) Don’t ride the Cherohala at all. 

The first option appears to be the most logical – and accommodating, since I’d be “covered” by many others during a ride.  The only problem with that option is that I would be slower than the 2-wheelers, hence still vulnerable to the onslaught of summer traffic when alone.  Also, the bike ride did not go the length of the Cherohala anyway, but took several detours. 

The second option is not appealing for obvious reasons (i.e., cold, ice and snow!) and the third option was viable only if I could find a suitable riding alternative.   I may, in fact, choose this one if I can find a more practical venue within the next few months. 

While in the mountains I visited Indian Boundary Lake (just off the Cherohala) to let my wife enjoy the beach while I traversed the 3.2 miles of bike trails around the lake perimeter.  It was great fun, but much harder than I am used to!  The trail was not paved, but consisted mostly of packed and loose gravel, mud, roots, narrow bridges, and the occasional big rock.  I fell four times and dismounted an equal number of times during this trek, but finally made it back around.  I was tired, but felt the glow of a sense of accomplishment.  

I also experienced the exhileration of riding over the dam, a 100 yard wide,  18 inches thick concrete structure at the river cutoff point.  Truth be told, it was covered on both sides by a chain-link fence, but still . . . the sensation of balancing on a concrete highwire was something that rarely presents itself!  A fall would not have sent me over the edge, but would certainly have produced a few nasty results!

I’ll be returning in a few weeks to check out some other trails, roads and path alternatives to the Cherohala.  Stay posted! 

Categories : General, Unicycling
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I made an “outrageous” goal to obtain and ride a unicycle 5 miles this month.  Good news… I just did my 4th mile without stopping, without falling, and without losing control! My first 3 were not so smoothe, so today was a major turning point for me. 

 unicycleMaybe my goal wasn’t so outrageous after all.  Or maybe I got a little crazy and actually believed I could do this.  Whatever the reason, these days I have a feeling inside that is strong and postive.  By getting clear of all the crap inside that blocks me from doing things, actually doing them has suddenly become a breeze! 

My goal is to be the oldest person ever to ride a unicycle across the entire length of the Cherohala Skyway in TN-NC.  Since I’ll probably be the first and only person so far to do this, I could probably name my own record! 

Basically, this just means going one mile at a time, for 43 miles, so it is definitely do-able.  I just need to learn how to navigate those darn hills and build up my stamina (significantly)!  My friend Hugh told me ther are three 9-degree inclines on this highway – rough going on two wheels, much less one!

But I have a year to get ready for this, so stay tuned.  Tomorrow I’ll go for the 5th and final mile, then maybe do a victory lap around Best Friend Park for all my curious new friends…

“Hey, look.  There’s that old guy on a unicycle again!” 

Sounds just right to me. 

Categories : Goal Setting, Unicycling
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Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a Recovering Unicyclist . . .

Old UnicycleWhile it sounds like some disease, its actually not.  I recently discovered that Unicycling is HOT these days – sort of like off-road biking became back in the 1980’s.  And the good news is I already knew how to ride . . . actually since I was a budding teenager in 1965!

But I had not been on one in over four decades.  Although I still had my old one, the seat was torn up and the wheel was flat – not exactly in mint riding condition (see pic on left).


So I set out to see if I could repair the old Lizzie.  Walking into the Marietta, UnicyclesGeorgia store of was like stepping into some ancient brain cells that I’d tucked away for 40 years and just dragged out.  I felt like I could finally come “out of the closet” and tell everyone the truth.  I was delighted to discover there were OTHER weird people out there just like me!

Long story short…

My father (actually Santa Claus) gave me a unicycle on Christmas Day of 1962.  I was a little tyke, not prone to ride such strange contraptions.  That changed when I turned 13 and decided to risk life and limb and either ride the darn thing or die trying.  After two weeks of scraped ankles and bruised legs and wrists, I finally rode . . . and soon got hooked.

What a thrill!  This was a skill that very few people had at the time (and still don’t) and I really reveled in being able to explore new places throughout my neighborhood in the city of Savannah, Georgia.  I even learned to climb steps and do a few other tricks and felt more at home on my “Uni” than I did on  bike. 

But along with special skills come special problems.  My Dad, you see, became head of the 1965 Arts Festival in Savannah, and I used to love riding around downtown . . . that is until one day he told me to “stop showing off.”  I guess he felt embarrassed by people’s comments and didn’t want to have to explain why his son acted like some circus clown.   

Whatever.  Deep down I was hurt, but did as he requested.  My enthusiasm became suddenly dampened and I rode very little after that. 

Fast forward to 2009.  After learning that my mentor, Raymond Aaron of was a unicyclist, I had a sudden urge to take it up again.  I never threw out my old unicycle, and always thought I’d give it to some kid someday – a day that never came since no kid I know wanted it.  So I set a goal to ride the 43-mile Cherohala Skyway between Tellico Plains, Tennessee and Robbinsville, North Carolina by the end of next Spring.  To do that, I needed a workable cycle and some practice! 

Josh TorransWhen I called the Unicycle shop, I talked to Josh Torrans and learned more about unicycles than I had known the entire 6 years of riding them.  After convincing me I would suffer mightily trying to cross the mountains on my little 24-inch rust bucket, he invited me to try some other models at his store.  

I went there today, and must say I had a great time!  I could actually ride the same size (24″) in a newer model, the 29-inch, and even the 36-inch “road warrior” used by tour riders.  I was again hooked.

OK, Josh, you got me.  Here’s my $300 bucks plus $30 for that weird riding helmet . . . (we didn’t need no steenking helmets in 1965!!)  Now all I need to do is practice. 

Oh, by the way, here is a picture New Unicycleof my NEW Uni – the one I will get to know intimately over the next year…

Anybody up for a little Unicycling ?

Stay tuned for updates on upcoming blogs.  I’ll probably even have a video camera with me during some trainings so you can laugh when I fall and break my 57-year-old toucous…

Categories : Goal Setting, Unicycling
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