My name is Taylor Stark. I'm a 23 year old Canadian from Canmore, Alberta. On April 1st, I will be setting off to ride the 6,500km between Vancouver and Sydney, Nova Scotia - and in so doing, becoming the first person to ever unicycle across the breadth of Canada. I estimate it will take me about four months.
The ride isn't about just the title; it's also a chance to experience and engage with the country I live in an entirely unique manner. I will be camping as much as possible so as to be flexible in where I can sleep and to cut down on accommodation costs. I am carrying a full kit of camping gear in two custom made panniers that attach to the front and back on my unicycle.
Why on a unicycle?
Why on a unicycle? Honestly, simply because that's what I love doing! I've been riding for 14 years now - I've spent so much time on one wheel that sometimes I think I'm more coordinated on it than I am on two feet. It offers an immense physical challenge, but also complete focus. A lapse in attention usually results in a quick trip to the pavement. When you're unicycling, there's just you and your unicycle, nothing else - that's what I love!
A lot of the appeal for this trip comes from the fact that it's never been done. But mostly, it provides a great way to experience the country through the interest it generates. It's an excellent ice-breaker and great way to meet and talk with new people on my journey.
I grew up in the Rocky Mountains with a mountain guide for a father. This potent combination resulted in a whole lot of outdoor activity, from skiing to climbing to backpacking to mountain biking. When I was 10, I attended a birthday party at a friend's house. In the back corner of the yard sat a rusty old 20" unicycle (unicycle measurements refer to the diameter of the tire). I proceeded to spend the entire evening ignoring all else as I desperately tried to ride the thing. While I got nowhere, my father saw my interest and a couple weeks later purchased a brand new unicycle for me. And that was that.
It took about two weeks, practicing an hour or so a day, but soon I could ride down the block. After learning the basics, I was ready to tackle more. Living in where I did, I got my hands on a 24" mountain unicycle (wider tire, more tread) and took to the trails. Now, anything a mountain bike goes down, I'll ride with my uni.
I moved to Toronto in 2012 to do my BA at the University of Toronto. With the paucity of trails in the city, I took to a different kind of unicycling. Trials riding is similar to BMX riding, where you use features in the environment, such as rails or stairs to perform tricks. With a new 20" unicycle I took on this new kind of riding.
My dream in life is to be a professor at a university. My BA is in Classics (Ancient Greek and Latin language), and I intend to continue in academia, specializing in Bronze Age Greek archaeology. Back in 2016 when I received my BA, I wasn't fully prepared to jump straight into the 7+ years it would take me to get my PhD so I took two years off. This has been something I've long thought about and this was my chance. Long-distance unicycling was one side of the sport I had never really tried, so I bought a 29" and then a 36" unicycle and started riding.
These last two years I've spent travelling, working, and unicycling. With my return to school for my Master's degree coming up this fall, it's finally time to start this coast to coast Canada trip I've been dreaming of. I'm tremendously excited to get started, and I hope you are too!