What: Great Unicycle Ride Across Iowa
When: July 21st - July 27st, 2002
(the same week as RAGBRAI)
Where: Starting in Sioux Center, Iowa traveling
East across Northern Iowa to Bellevue, Iowa
Why: Why not?
How: Using modified Coker unicycles

George and Jesse are both veteran riders on Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, commonly known as RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI is the largest long distance group bike ride in the USA with over 10,000 riders expected this year. Aaron has never done RAGBRAI before and will be doing his first RAGBRAI on one wheel! Both George and Jesse are members of the Iowa State University Unicycling Club, Aaron is an honorary member for having the guts to try RAGBRAI on a unicycle. George got a Coker unicycle with a 36" diameter wheel last fall, and the club got several Cokers in the spring. This combination led to the crazy idea of riding their unicycles across Iowa this summer. If successful, they will be the first unicyclists to complete RAGBRAI or ride across Iowa on unicycles. Hey, there's a first time for everything. They will be carrying their gear with Team Kamikaze of RAGBRAI. If you're on RAGBRAI and would like to stop by and say hello, just look for Team Kamikaze and they should be near. To find Team Kamikaze, go to the Information Center in any overnight town (any RAGBRAI volunteers should be able to direct you to the Information Center). At the information center there will be a wall where the locations of all the teams are posted. Look under the 'K' section for Team Kamikaze and there will be directions posted to where the Kamikaze bus is parked. Directions should be posted by mid-afternoon.

The Route
The route will start on the Western side of Iowa in Sioux Center and travel East across Northern Iowa to Bellevue, Iowa on the Mississippi River. The route has been measured at 480 miles according the Des Moines Register. The days range in length from 55 miles to 77 miles. Click here to view more details on the route.

Frequently Asked Questions
"Are you going all the way across Iowa?" Yes.
"Can you coast on a unicycle?" No.
"You have to pedal all the way, you really
can't just take a break while you're riding?"
Indeed, you are correct.
"Do you have gears?" No.
"Do you have brakes?" Nope.
"Is that hard?" Of course not, that's why the road is packed with unicyclists trying to ride across Iowa.
"Are you crazy?" Yes.
"Why in the world are you doing this?" See the question above.

Custom Coker Unicycles
George, Jesse, and Aaron will be riding Coker style unicycles with 36" diameter wheels, but each one is a bit different. Without the modifications listed below, the ride would have been much more difficult, if not impossible. Click here to view photos of the unicycles we will be riding.

George's uni actually has a United frame that was lengthed in order to fit a 36" wheel. The hub was also cut in half and widened in order to strengthen the wheel. George purchased his uni from Chris Reeder in that condition. Since then, George did some customizing of his own. He is using a carbon fiber saddle base with a 20" air tube inside and a Gemcrest leather seat cover. He has put on the "GB handle" that he manufactures. In addition he has put on V-brakes, 4.3" Bicycle Euro cranks, Mosh metal BMX platform pedals, and a bike computer.

Jesse's uni came from a stock Coker. The frame (except for the v-brake mounts) and wheel are stock. He is using a Miyata saddle modified to an air seat (Miyata plastic base, 20" air tube, Roach saddle cover) purchased from Also installed on his seat is a metal stiffener plate and GB handle both manufactured by George. In addition, his uni has v-brakes, 4.3" Bicycle Euro cranks, composite Odyssey platform pedals, and a bike computer.

Aaron's uni came from a stock Coker. The frame and wheel are stock. He is using a carbon fiber saddle base with a 20" air tube inside and a Roach saddle cover. Aaron is also using the GB handle both manufactured by George. Aaron's coker has 5" cranks and Primo Platform pedals. Aaron also mounted a bicycle luggage rack to his seatpost. On the luggage rack, there is an mp3 player and battery powered speakers. Gotta have the tunes!

George accumulated nearly 600 miles on his Coker in the spring and summer before the ride. His training ranged from riding to and from class on campus to training on county roads (both gravel and paved). Jesse's training didn't start till late May and he was able to rack up over 500 miles in his 9 weeks of training. Much of his training was done on the paved bike paths in Omaha, NE. Aaron didn't receive his air seat until a month before the ride, so most of his training was done in the several weeks before the ride. He went from no training to 60 mile rides in no time and put in about 200 miles in the few weeks before GURAI. Most of the individual training rides were 20 miles or less. On several weekends, they did group training rides in the 40 to 50 mile range. Several of these were organized bike rides that they took part in. You might have seen "The Unicycle Guys" on the following rides:

  • Bicycle Around SAC County
  • Okaboji Campus Rides
  • Wabash Trail Thursday Night Taco Ride
  • G’Witter’s B-4 Bike Ride
  • Tour d'Omaha
Jesse's Training Log

Rider Bios
George Barnes IV
Age: 20
From: Ida Grove, IA
School: Iowa State University, Junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

George has been unicycling for 4 years and in the spring of 2001 he started the Iowa State Unicycling Club. He manufactures custom unicycle parts such as the GB handle, and the Reeder handle available through His hobbies also include bike riding and computers.

Jesse Shumaker (webmaster)
Age: 21
Home: Omaha, NE
School: Iowa State University, Senior majoring in Management Information Systems and International Business

Jesse has been unicycling for 2 years and is also an avid juggler. His other hobbies include drumming, biking, traveling, and computers.

Aaron Parker
Age: 16
From: Holstein, IA
School: Junior at Galva Holstein High School

Aaron is THE one and only honorary member of the ISUUC. Enjoys unicycling- mostly trials riding, cars, and long walks on the beach....

Press Coverage


Have you signed the guestbook?

Email the webmaster