Spud McWalters (January 1st, 1905 - December 31st, 1995) was an Irish circus performer who became the first documented person to unicycle across the Atlantic Ocean, from London to New York. The ride took place on a one inch diameter metal braided tight wire that was stretched between the cities and tested for strength and durability months in advance of Spud’s record setting attempt.
McWalters’ transatlantic ride began the mooring of May 2nd, 1977 in London, England and concluded in New York City on September 2nd of the same year. This voyage was regulated by both the United States and British government who put limits on what McWalters could bring with him on the journey which covered exactly 3,459 miles. On the journey Spud could only bring with him the unicycle he was riding, the clothes on his back, a one gallon jug of drinking water, and a one gallon jug of assorted peanuts and cashews to eat.
On his 92 day ride Spud had to cover an average of 38 miles each day traveling at a constant speed of 3mph, but only was able to ride between the hours of 7am and 7pm due to a lack of light making riding conditions unsafe. While he was not riding McWalters had to sleep on his unicycle or risk forfeiting his record.
On September 2nd, 1977 McWalters arrived in New York to a welcome party and a parade. Upon dismounting in America McWalters was greeted by President Jimmy Carter who took care to examine the unicycle and all the belongings that made the trip from Europe. After receiving the all clear from Carter, McWalters was presented the key to the city and inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records.
To this day Spud McWalters is still the only person to have completed the stunt although others have tried unsuccessfully. The last and most notable attempt took place on May 2nd, 1987, ten years after McWalters attempt, Norwegian body builder Chester Moistmuffins attempted the journey but made it only a mile and a half before unfortunately losing balance and drowning. This death prompted a response from the British government leading to a ban of the challenge and meaning that McWalters record should stand forever.
Spud McWalters passed away December 31st, 1995 with his living wife and children by his side. He still remains the only person to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a unicycle.