New York Duo Riding Unicycles To Key West For Performance Art Project

FLORIDA KEYS (CBSMiami) – You can drive, ride a bicycle or maybe even join a marathon and run to the Florida Keys but a couple of guys from New York are traveling to Key West in quite a unique way, they’re pedaling unicycles.

Brooklyn residents Robert Hickman and Keith Nelson are taking part in what they call the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail Unicycle Tour. They’ll pedal unicycles 106 miles along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway and its 42 bridges as a six-day performance art project.

Hickman is a sculptor who specializes in creating art for transportation systems. Nelson is a variety artist who co-founded a national traveling theater-based circus.

The unicycling duo began their Florida Keys journey earlier in the week in Key Largo and are scheduled to finish Sunday afternoon in Key West, riding to the southernmost point in the continental United States.

Keys officials, including Monroe County Undersheriff Rick Ramsay, said it’s the first time they’ve ever heard of a person traversing the Overseas Highway on a unicycle.

Pedaling across bridges over the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, they are following the path of the century-old Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad that evolved into the contemporary Overseas Highway. Their journey celebrates the recent centennial of the railroad’s debut and the ongoing creation of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.

Hickman and Nelson’s other projects include a continuing quest to cross New York City’s more than 2,000 bridges over water and land on unicycles.

“We crossed a lot of historical bridges in New York, and this is the centennial of the Over-Sea Railway,” said Hickman. “We want to come down and commemorate the 100 years of the Flagler railroad bridges and the brand-new Heritage Trail system.”

The unique trek is a facet of Sculpture Key West, an open-air exhibition of large-scale art at two Civil War–era forts.

Hickman, who participated in two previous exhibitions, is creating a sculpture as he pedals his unicycle by dragging a small rock along the road behind him to create the artwork.

“When you’re riding a unicycle, whether it’s across a basketball court or across 100 miles, the fact you have one point of contact on the earth means you have a whole new level of balance that most people aren’t even accustomed to,” Nelson said. “There’s no coasting. We’re pedaling all 106 miles—uphill, downhill—there’s no moment that, when we’re on this, we can say, ‘I’m just going to relax and let it take me,’ where (on) a bicycle you can kick back a little more than you can on a unicycle.”

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