"New Paltz resident loves to race unicycles"
I was featured in the Poughkeepsie Journal's Sunday Sports section today. Nancy Haggerty, who had written about me two years ago when I presented a uni demonstration at the Mohonk Preserve, interviewed me for an hour and followed up with a bunch of email Qs.
Here is the article:
Think unicycle and image 1 might be a clown or street performer teetering side to side at all of a mile or two per hour.
But now think 500 miles of unicycle racing, often at 20-plus mph, of riding roads that not only go up and down hills but also mountains.
Think Ride the Lobster, the recent 35-team relay held in Nova Scotia.
The June 16-20 race, officially 800 kilometers or 497.1 miles, included four days of 35-rider mass-start, roughly 120-mile road racing and one day of time trials and criterium.
It also included riders from as far away as Korea, Germany, Denmark Singapore, Britain, New Zealand and Australia.
By comparison, David Stone was a local.
The 41-year-old New Paltz resident teamed with John Foss, 46, of California and Dave White, 52, of Ohio on The Centurions. The name represents the fact the three, who met through unicycle conventions, have among them 101 years of unicycling experience, Stone the least at 28.
Stone, president/founder of the Manhattan-based New York Unicycle Club, had done long unicycle rides, including a New York City century in which he logged 102 miles in one day. But his longest previous races were only 10Ks.
"I treated this racing as if I had to do about six to eight of those each day for four days," he said.
Stone, who works in Manhattan as a private tutor, trained for two months, logging 13 to 25 miles a day, sometimes in Central Park, but most often on the rail trail out of New Paltz.
Going in, his team's goal was a top-10 finish and that's exactly what it got, finishing 10th in 40 hours, 27 minutes, 34 seconds. That was four-plus hours behind the winning German team and more than 19 hours ahead of the last-place team. But 10th was a battle, with the 11th-place squad finishing just seven minutes back.
"When I rode, I always thought, 'Never let up.' I didn't want to give up even a second to another team... I rode like gangbusters the whole way," said Stone, whose motto was "None shall pass" and who noted, "It was very rare when someone did."
ENJOYS SPEED ASPECT
Stone, a former high school runner who explained, "Speed is what I always had as a weapon in any sport," logged 87 of the final day's 180 kilometers, cycling mostly flats and downhills, his strengths.
He rode one three-mile, paved mountain downhill at 19 mph.
"On a unicycle that's way too fast to fall off," he remarked.
But while one opponent broke a leg crossing train tracks, even on gravel, Stone's team had no falls. It was on a gravel downhill, that the gravel-loving Stone hit 22.5 mph, his top race speed.
"That was just amazing," Stone said, adding, "I see gravel and it's almost like I get hungry."
Foss' wife, Jacquie, drove the team's support van routinely six or more miles ahead of the team's current rider. Then, at the van, a GPS tracking baton was passed to the next rider, who'd already be pedaling.
Stone, who owns 30 unicycles, rode a 29-inch, wheel-geared unicycle throughout the race. Other racers rode geared and ungeared unicycles of various sizes. The winning Germans, who took home a $4,000 prize (The Centurions split $125 for 10th place) used a more difficult to handle but very fast 36-inch, wheel-geared unicycle.
The race, run through areas that reminded Stone of the Hudson Valley, was designed to boost tourism. Rooms and breakfast and dinner were provided free to participants, who shared information and more with each other.
"Imagine a new golfer coming along and wanting tips on how to avoid a slice and he started chatting up Tiger Woods. It's never going to happen. ... The nice thing about the sport is it's in its youth. We're still so innocent," said Stone, who noted his and others teams loaned unicycles to competitors and one team actually built one for another team.
The camaraderie extended to fans. Schoolchildren lined parts of the route and gave teams care packages.
"... As a tutor, former teacher and father, the kids were the best (part of the race)," said Stone.
While his own kids, Fiona, 12, a five-year rider; Emmett, 8, a two-year rider; and Maeve, 4, were home in school and his wife, Shirra, was running her New Paltz shop, Knit and Be Happy, the GPS baton allowed them to follow The Centurions' progress online.
This was the first ever Ride the Lobster and if Nova Scotia hosts it again, Stone plans to be there.
He also dreams of someday unicycling cross-country with his brother, John, who has unicycled across the Alps, the Pyrenees and Norway.
More immediately, though, Stone plans to do a New York century ride on Sept. 7. And he's also talking about teaming with John and Emmett in a race.
The name of that team? The Rolling Stones.