RUMFORD – Decked out in blue, metallic-painted fingernails, lime green socks, hot pink helmet, and black Converse All-Star sneakers, “Unicycle Max” DeMilner was ready to ride.
The eccentric 19-year-old Peru man hugged his newly-remarried mom, Nancy O. DeMilner Demings, stepfather, Bob Demings, and friends and family who had gathered on Saturday morning in the parking lot at Mountain Valley High School.
Max DeMilner, a 2004 graduate, then mounted his large unicycle, and set off on his wedding present to them – time alone while he’s on a 750-mile pedal through New England raising money for his college tuitition.
DeMilner dreamed up the one-wheel tour through six states to raise $2,000, money needed for a second year at college in spring 2007.
“This is for the ages,” he said with a deep. bass voice, then, added in his own voice, “I won’t be gone too long.”
He’s not expected back on Capt. Pasquale – the name he gave his unicycle – until sometime in June.
Max DeMilner racked up $20,000 in debt attending Chester College of New England in Chester, N.H., in 2004-05, his brother, Kyle DeMilner, 23, of Philadelphia said. A creative writer, and all-around creative person and performer, DeMilner hopes to attend the University of Maine at Farmington when he raises enough money.
By Saturday, had raised $1,000 through sponsorships and donations for his trek.
“If anyone can do it, he can,” he said, adding, “I think it’s great! I wish I could go along.”
Kyle DeMilner designed his brother’s Unicycle Max Web site, and is to track his progress through global positioning system data, and post it and digital photographs on the site.
There is also a blog, “so people can report Unicycle Max sightings,” Kyle DeMilner said, laughing.
The journey on secondary roads is to take Max DeMilner through New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Vermont’s Green Mountains and most of the state, western Massachusetts, nearly the whole length of Connecticut, through Rhode Island, up through eastern Massachusetts, and back into New Hampshire to finish in Rumford.
He expected to spend the night in Norway, whether in his tent or with a friend, then head for Bridgton, Fryeburg and Conway, N.H. on Sunday.
Max DeMilner’s mom, whom he walked down the aisle Friday, and her son arrived at 9:35 a.m. at the school; the unicycle and retrofitted bicycle frame pack was in the back seat.
Everything he needed – clothes, first-aid kit, tool kit, spare 36-inch diameter tubes, space blanket, tent, and rain gear – was either stored in two bags, or wrapped tightly and strapped around the inside of the wheel’s hub.
“Fortunately, I’ll be traveling through towns. I’m not going out in the wilderness for a month,” Max DeMilner said.
Then, responding to a question about his blue fingernails, he said he did that in memory of his friend, Mark Seiler of his friend, musician Mark Lincoln Seiler of Bangor who committed suicide on Nov. 21, 2005, in Worcester, Mass., at the age of 28.
“He always had blue fingernails,” Max DeMilner said.
Then it was time for stretches, a muffin, and more questions. His trip, he said, has been picked up by newspapers in every state in New England and one in Peru, South America. He’s also been interviewed by a People magazine reporter, made the Boston Globe Web site, and may make the Today show.
After her adventurous younger son left, Nancy DeMilner Demings shared with the small crowd what Max submitted to MasterCard for a possible commercial spot.
“One year at Chester College, $20,000; unicycle, $750; map, $1.69; unique adventure, priceless,” she said.