Many people think cyclists who ride from Lands End to John O’Groats are quite mad. But try doing it on a unicycle and you could be seen as being absolutely bonkers. Well 15-year-old Samuel Farmer, born in Perth, Scotland, is doing just that as he attempts to become the youngest person ever to have done so.
Sam, speaking from Port William, said: “People do think I’m mad but a lot of people don’t realise what a unicycle is actually capable of, they just think they belong in the circus.”
For unicycle nuts among you Sam is using a modified Qu-Ax 36" unicycle, which is used purely for long distance providing the rider has the strength and stamina to pedal all day, and they are capable of speeds in excess of 20mph.
Sam, who now lives in West Sussex, got into the unicycle three and a half years ago. “I attended a one week Circus School at the Hawth Theater in Crawley, West Sussex. Over in the corner sat a neglected, rusted 20" Unicycle so I gave it a go and was hooked.”
This is the 10th riding day, having set off on July 27, and it has gone well so far, with today in particular being relatively straight forward. “It’s been pretty easy today because it’s been flat. Flat level ground is the easiest and the fastest to ride on. Going up steep hills is obviously tough, and going down is difficult because you’re always having to break. I should finish on Monday.
“My daily routine has involved early starts to avoid the heat rush hour traffic, and late afternoon/early evenings for the same reasons. I’ve been aiming to ride 70-75 miles and complete five one and a half hour sessions a day.
“The average speed on the flat is 12-13 mph but if I really go for it I have reached just over 20 mph before. I can ride it just like a bike now but when you get tired you start to temporarily drift to the side on a unicycle.”
Sam is riding the challenge with his dad Mike, who is riding a mountain bike and carrying basic supplies, and his mum Caroline is driving a motorhome which is their support vehicle and home for the duration of the challenge. His aunt and uncle are also with him at the moment.
The challenge will be officially recognised by the LEJOG Association hopefully breaking the Guinness World Record along the way. Sam is also raising money for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Southampton Hospital, Hampshire and The Peanut Ward at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead.
Alongside this he hopes to raise awareness to the importance of wearing a cycle helmet while riding and will also donate some of the monies raised to the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust.
If you would like to sponsor Sam visit his website: www.unicycle-lejog.co.uk
Sam looks set to become the youngest person to do the distance on a unicycle, but he's have had to start out a few years earlier to become the youngest person to do it on a bike, that honour, so far as we know, belongs to Chloe Ingham who achieved the feat back in 2001 when she was 9. Chloe rode the 1056 mile route with her mother and two sisters, Amy and Harriet who were 13 and 14 at the time - it took them a month.
In fact Chloe was so young that her feat wasn't recognised by the Guiness Book of Records which these days doesn't like to promote records by children for fear of inciting child exploitation.