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Thursday, March 20, 2014

St. Louis Artist Takes World-Record Unicycle Ride Across Central America, U.S., Canada

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge Unicyclist Cary Gray is traveling down to South America on one wheel. - CARY GRAY
  • Cary Gray
  • Unicyclist Cary Gray is traveling down to South America on one wheel.

Technically, St. Louisan Cary Gray broke the Guinness World Record for longest unicycle trip in Catarina, Nicaragua, after riding 9,126 miles through Canada, the U.S. and Central America on one wheel.

Sadly, he was a few days too late. Just before Gray hit the record-breaking mark, an Australian rider snatched the title after riding nearly 10,000 miles.

But Gray doesn't seem to mind. He's not worried about the nasty bacterial infection he caught in his stomach, flat tires, bumpy roads or steep hills, either. In his video and blog updates, 25-year-old Gray seems jubilant at the chance to explore two continents on one wheel.

"The infection passed, [and] I was all smiles and skinny-dipping in the ocean and once again enjoying the occasional beer," Gray writes on his way to San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, the sixth country he'll visit.

Gray says he has been unicycling since 1999, when his Uncle Jerry gave him one to try.

"I have a pencil-length scar on the outside of my right knee to show for that," Gray says. "Anyway, thanks Uncle Jerry."

See also: Eight-Year-Old Finn McNamee Marches on Unicycle in St. Louis MLK Parade

After graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Gray rode his unicycle 1,080 miles from Baltimore back home to St. Louis in December 2012. It took him seventeen days, including seven days of 100-plus miles of riding.

The long trip confirmed for Gray that he could handle his dream adventure: riding his unicycle from Baltimore up to Toronto, down and across the United States, through Central America, down South America's western coast and back up to Venezuela -- a trip that would take him to all 23 continental countries in North and South America.

Gray's progress as of March 3. - CARYOUTTHERE.COM
  • Gray's progress as of March 3.

That's a long way to go, considering Gray is carrying all the supplies he needs on one wheel. He has strapped a GPS, electronics, a light two-person tent, a screw-on stove, a sleeping bag, drawing tools, emergency mylar blankets, a pump, tools, a muscle foam roller, shower-less wipes and more into the bags strapped to his cycle and foot pedals.

Just getting on the unicycle can be a challenge, especially in heavy wind. In this video, Gray shows how he "truck surfs" behind eighteen-wheelers to break the wind:

Gray is making a documentary about the trip -- his working title is Record of One, -- as well as a book based on the journey.

Gray compares himself to Batman, a human whose epic crime-fighting gear made him a superhero.

"I don't know if I'm a superhero, but I sure look weird enough to pull it off," Gray says on a fundraising page for new gear. "Plus, I get the, 'is-it-a-bird? is-it-a-plane? No! It's a crazy unicycle guy!' business all the time. That counts for something."

The best part of his ride? Getting to pee on stuff, apparently.

"One of the great things about riding cross-country as a male is getting to pee on so many interesting things," Gray blogs. "Bridges, rivers, monuments! I once peed on a plane hangar."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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