On Wednesday, 2/23/11, I set a new record for the oldest-and likely *only*-person to have ever successfully climbed the steepest and most famous street in Los Angeles, CA, and the 2nd steepest in the US, on a UNICYCLE! At a massive 33% grade, Fargo street hill attracts hundreds of cyclists...the two-wheeled variety!...to the yearly climbing event held there.
Many don't make it to the top, even though they use ultra low gears to help them pedal their way some 528 feet to the top of this monster hill, which is more like a WALL! So I decided to try it myself...on just ONE wheel! Yep, my 24" mountain unicycle, with NO gears to help me climb, no clip in pedals that help "pull", as well as push while pedaling. No frame, no handlebars or second wheel for much easier balance. It would be just 1:1 fixed wheel all the way!
On two previous attempts, I managed only about 300 feet of the total 528. Not a bad attempt, but it was still more than 200 feet short of the top! So, with fellow unicyclist Steve, visiting from NY, I gave it another try, and this time gave it everything I could muster...and I MADE it to the top! I still do not know where or how I found the strength to keep going, especially past the 1/2 way point, where many fail! Maybe the GU gel I ate 15 minutes before helped!
But at 55 years old, I knew it was pretty much now or never! My "Max heart rate" is supposed to be 165. I've been riding hardcore trails and road cycling on my 36er uni for 5+ years, and even done a 100 mile uni-century in a day, but my heart rate never exceeded 153bpms, and that was when training on 23% grade hills or less.
On this climb I was wearing my heart rate monitor, and it was redlining at 171bpms, even before I got halfway up! My lungs were on fire and burning like never before, and just catching breaths was an ordeal! I was standing on the pedals, cranking down each and every half revolution, which required a herculean effort! When Steve finally yelled out, "20 feet to go", I felt an adrenaline rush that was enough to put me over the top! It was a great feeling...once I convinced myself I wasn't having hear failure!
As someone said, this was "my personal Everest!"
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"Over 50, and not "2" Tired!"