Student to challenge unicycling world record

Phil Schleihauf will attempt to unicycle 160 kilometres in six and a half hours with no breaks

Phil Schleihauf, Sci ‘13, says he is trying to break the world record to promote Queen’s Fair Trade Week.
Phil Schleihauf, Sci ‘13, says he is trying to break the world record to promote Queen’s Fair Trade Week.

Tomorrow third-year student Phil Schleihauf will try to break a Guinness World Record for the fastest 160 kilometres traveled on a unicycle.

The current record has been held for nearly 25 years and clocks in at six hours and 40 minutes.

Schleihauf, Sci ’13, said he’s attempting to break the record to promote Queen’s Fair Trade Week, an event aimed at encouraging students to eat locally-grown foods.

Three previous attempts to break the long-standing record have failed, averaging seven hours.

Schleihauf’s goal is set at six hours and 30 minutes.

“I’ve done rides at longer distances at the record pace, so I’m not worried,” he said.

He added that he doesn’t plan on taking any breaks during the event on Saturday.

“Cycling jerseys have pockets in the back for food and I have a Camelback hydration system,” Schleihauf said.

More than 400 people are expected to attend the RecordSmash event at Memorial Park this weekend. It will conclude Queen’s Fair Trade Week.

“We really just want to raise awareness about student fair trade options on campus, like at the farmer’s market,” he said.

He added that this is the first Queen’s Fair Trade Week.

“We’ve been selling fair trade coffee at various places on campus and [held] a fair trade scavenger hunt … people tried to find local businesses on campus and near campus to find fair trade items,” Schleihauf said.

Other universities are following suit.

“I know UBC is definitely having an event like this, and so is McGill,” he said.

Phil received a $1,000 grant from Awesome Kingston — a small group of 10 community members that pool $100 each of their own money per month to donate to an idea.

“Awesome Kingston was a major target because they provide an environment to launch an idea,” he said.

Schleihauf said he’s been unicycling since he was 12 years old.

“I dreamed about it one night then I had to try, and once I started, I couldn’t stop,” he said.

In 2009, Schleihauf unicycled across Canada from Victoria, B.C., to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to fundraise for the charity Invisible Children.

“The main goal of the tour was to raise awareness about child soldiers and I raised $3,500,” he said.

Vehicle of choice

Brennan Foo rides a unicycle all year round.

“I ride it almost daily in the summer and occasionally in the winter,” Foo, Comm ’14, said. “If there are mountains of snow then I do have trouble, but it can handle ice and light snow.”

Foo’s vehicle of choice boasts a 36-inch diameter wheel.

He said when he attends lecture he locks it up in the bike racks.

When riding on campus, Foo said he receives waves and claps from the people he passes.

“A lot of people ask me to pop wheelies,” he said.

Foo said he learned how to ride in the summer of 2007 and chose the unicycle out of boredom.

“I had learnt how to juggle already and wanted to put those two together,” Foo said. “I like entertaining people.” Foo bought his starter unicycle online for about $100.

He said the ones he rides now cost between $700 and $1,000.

He said it was difficult to teach himself how to ride, and that he gave up for a year after initially failing.

Foo is now part of the Kingston Unicycle Club, a small group of about 15 unicycle enthusiasts.

Although he has no plans to break a world record, Foo said he’s supportive of Phil Schleihauf.

“I think that if I wanted to grab a world record like Phil he’d take some more training and overtake me,” Foo said.

“So nothing for distance in the near future, but maybe something paired with juggling.”

- Catherine Owsik

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