My name is Cary Gray and I grew up in St. Louis, MO.
I grew up running around like a wild man through the many acres of land behind our house, and swimming in our small backyard lake. My best friends were my cousins, if that says anything. I’ve been adventuring and creating art since I was a toddler. In my early years I painstakingly created clay animations for hours on end. In high school I created a 33 ft tall trebuchet capable of throwing a 10-lb rock over 500 ft. I play or dabble in drums, viola, piano, ukulele, guitar, and cello. And I whistle. A lot.
I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and graduated cum laude with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture in 2011.
I have never followed the beaten path, and while that used to look something like rebellion or theatrics, it has progressed into something positive.
My mission: Empower others to live healthy, sustainable, and adventurous lives.
Since 2013 I have ridden well over 15,000 miles by unicycle, have lived in over a dozen places and held about that many jobs. My current dreams are: publish a successful book (“the Naked Unicyclist”) and children’s book (“Luno!”), return to South America to finish what I started there, get on the Ellen show, give a TED talk, shake Richard Branson’s hand. My overall dreams: to write at least one book that is considered a “cult classic,” meet the/a future president, open a food truck, open an art/adventure camp, trek across/around every continent, and meet the future partner of mine who wants to have my two future children while pedaling/paddling the world with me.
I’ve been unicycling since about nineteen ninety-nine.
My dad and his brother had a unicycle when they were kids. When that uncle moved in next to our St. Louis home for a period of time, he gave me that same unicycle. Uncle Jerry gave me a quick tutorial, but I was mostly on my own for the 7,422 or so falls it took to ride in a straight line. Seriously speaking though, falling has always been my best teacher. I have a pencil-length scar on the outside of my right knee to show for that. Anyway, thanks Uncle Jerry.
Fast forward to high school: I thought I was tough stuff for unicycling the almost-a-mile to school. But then I started doing nearly every day. At some point, I bought an off-road unicycle and continued riding it to school – and occasionally off-road – and then brought it to college.
Then the idea came: I was planning my next big trip, which was South America. I wanted to see a lot of places, so I looked up flight prices. I quickly decided on touring instead. First I thought a bike would do, but then I naturally thought about my ability to ride on only one wheel. Up to this point, the longest distance I had ridden was 10 miles. I had ridden 650 miles by bike a few summers earlier, though, from Baltimore to southern New Hampshire. So I knew it was possible, and that it would be rewarding.
A year and a half, three unicycles, over two thousand miles, and hundreds of hours on the wheel later, I was ready. After postponing multiple times, I set the departure date for South America at the ninth day of the seventh month of the year two thousand thirteen.
Possible had suddenly became doable after I successfully finished a 1080-mile unicycle trip from Baltimore to St. Louis in December 2012, 6 months before the big departure. The trip took 17 days, of which I rested 5 days. 7 of the days were more than 100 miles of riding.
After that training trip, all I did was plan, and the big trip loomed large for July 9th. The plan: to ride from Baltimore up to Toronto, down and across the states, through Central America, down the western coast of South America and back up to Venezuela. This would span over 22,000 miles and ideally take in all 23 of the continental countries in North and South America. It would also break the Guinness World Record for “Longest Unicycle Trip,” which stood at 9,126 miles.
The trip has become so much more than I ever could have imagined…