“Was that a unicycle?”
That was no doubt the reaction of many people who happened to cruise by a young man riding such a one-wheel device in the Lovell area Saturday.
Indeed, Felix Regelsberger of Vienna, Austria, caused more than a few heads to turn Saturday as he rode off the Big Horn Mountains and into North Big Horn County, reaching Lovell late Saturday afternoon.
Regelsberger, a civil engineering student at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, recently attended an international unicycling convention in Montreal and there launched his trip to see much of the western hemisphere at a unicycle’s pace. A native of Graz, Switzerland, he decided to take a year off from school and see how far his machine could take him.
He planned to stay with friends he’d met at the convention along the way, but what he probably didn’t realize is how many new friends he would meet along the way. He left Montreal on Aug. 18 and rode west to Toronto, on into Michigan, stopping by Niagara Falls along the way, across Michigan to Muskegon, via ferry to Milwaukee and then Madison, Wisc., then through Minnesota via Minneapolis- St. Paul, on west into South Dakota through Watertown and eventually Rapid City, then into Wyoming, crossing the Big Horns Saturday and rolling into Lovell.
“It was pretty exciting coming down the mountain,” he said Saturday night. “I took a few breaks for photos and to rest my hand, which was sore from braking.”
Everywhere he has gone, he has been welcomed with open arms.
“I’ve met only nice people, without exception,” he said. “People ask me if I need water or food. They invite me to their homes.” He often uses “couch surfing” websites for places to stay, including the site warmshowers.com for touring cyclists.
Lovell folks were welcoming, too.
While in town Saturday evening, Regelsberger encountered Ryan and Adrienne Mangus at the Red Apple Supermarket and struck up a conversation. The Mangus family had seen him on the highway earlier. Mangus invited Regelsberger for dinner, where he was welcomed with open arms by the family. Michael and Stormy Jameson offered to take the young man and his unicycle to the Mangus home with their pickup.
Sunday, he was off to Cody and was planning to head to Yellowstone after that. He averages around 50 miles per day, he said.
Asked about his unicycle, Regelsberger said the tire on his 36-inch wheel is very stable and strong and is good for a couple of thousand miles. He said he will flip the tire during the journey for even wearing.
His goal is San Francisco, and then he hopes to continue south to San Diego, and he said depending on “time, weather and motivation,” he may continue south through Mexico and Central America and all the way south to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in South America.
For those wanting to follow Regelsberger’s journey, he has a Facebook page and also has a blog.
By David Peck