FARMINGTON — Heading for Newry by nightfall, unicyclist Tristan Bates and his brother Arian were in Shelburne, N.H., Wednesday morning, he reported during a phone interview.
The uni-thon, One Wheel One Cure, a 400-plus-mile trek on a unicycle from Vermont to Quoddy Head Light is going well, Bates said.
Despite a little soreness in the lower part of his body from riding the large, one-wheel cycle while his brother rides a tandem bike, Bates was enthused with the response since he left Burlington, Vt., on Sunday.
He had hoped to raise up to $1,000 for the Melanoma Research Foundation but online donations on his website, www.onewheel-onecure.com, have risen to $3,000, he said on the fourth day of the planned 10-day trek.
“People have been awesome,” he said, not only of those who donate but also people along Route 2 who have offered back yards for rest and made donations to cover their expenses.
Bates started planning the uni-thon after his father was diagnosed with melanoma last year. Bates, a University of Maine at Farmington May graduate, stepped up his plans when his father died in February of this year, he said. After the trek, he hopes to find a teaching position in Maine.
Using a large 36-inch wheel unicycle, he’s able to ride about 8 or 9 miles per hour but at one point registered 22-mph, he said. They are averaging about 40-miles per day.
His interests in unicycles just developed while walking through a store, he said. He saw a unicycle and thought it would be fun to learn to ride. Having the needed $80 on him at the time, the rest is history.
Bates is amazed at what his former co-workers at Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell in Farmington have planned for Friday night in support of his trek. He couldn’t believe what Manager Aaron Tourtelotte has “pulled together,” including a unicycle joust, he said.
Bates worked at the local KFC while attending UMF.
Activities are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of KFC and all are welcome.