Six days and nearly 300 miles into his 750-mile unicycle pedal through New England from Maine, Peru resident Maxwell DeMilner left the road.
It wasn’t traffic, hecklers, the police, or equipment problems that forced the stoppage at 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon. It was flooding, DeMilner said Saturday evening at his Aunt Julie Tilton’s home in Westford, Mass.
“I’m very anxious to get back on the road, but I don’t want to be too cavalier about flooding,” he said.
Thursday’s pedal from Merrimack, N.H., to Westford, was a slog, DeMilner said, through the hardest pouring rain of his trip, so far.
“I don’t mind riding in the rain, but I don’t like setting up my tent or camping in the rain,” he said.
DeMilner, 19, a 2004 graduate of Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, pedaled his large unicycle out of the school parking lot on May 6 to raise $2,000 for his college tuition.
He hopes to get a degree in creative writing by attending the University of Maine at Farmington next spring.
By May 6, he had raised half of his goal, and, six days later, was $350 shy.
“I’m feeling great, my fundraising is nearly there, and I’ve got at least two more weeks of riding ahead of me,” DeMilner said.
The Maine portion of his pedaling was the hardest part.
“My second day out, I had been busting my butt all day going up and down the foothills of western Maine, so I really wanted to get to the state line with New Hampshire before dark, because when I did, it flattened out,” he said.
At the top of one particularly grueling climb in West Sumner, DeMilner said he was “sucking down water” when a large white dog approached him. Eventually, the canine led him to one of his most interesting experiences: meeting an autobody mechanic turned shaman.
But that didn’t compare, he said, to finding a post office in Eaton, N.H., that sold golf clubs.
And, while he hasn’t met many people who know of him and his endeavor, he expects that to change soon. On Saturday, the Nashua Telegraph ran a large photograph of him and a story, he said.
Physically, his left hand is sore from holding onto the seat for support when pedaling uphill and downhill and at day’s end, and his legs are sore in the mornings.
“But, I make sure I stretch a lot to combat that,” DeMilner said.
When flooding recedes along the back roads that he rides, he’s off for Waltham and Middleborough, Mass., then Rhode Island, and the long straight pedal across Connecticut.
“I’m in good spirits, and, until I hit the road again, I’m eating very well,” DeMilner said.