Any Introverted, Misanthropic, and Touchy Unicyclists out there?

Well, I am one, and my middle finger is spring-loaded. I love unicycling, but I didn’t learn how in order to draw attention to myself.

I just upgraded from my old 29er to a KH 36er, which is great to ride. So now I am riding more, and the stares, comments, pointing, and general unwanted attention has only gotten worse with the bigger wheel.

I live in Portland, OR and I feel like I can’t go anywhere without feeling the stares, and it makes me horribly uncomfortable. People drive by and stick their phones out of car windows to get a picture. When it becomes a safety issue, I become murderously enraged. For instance, cars slowing down to gawk in the middle of an intersection I am trying to cross or in the middle of a turn. (It is incumbent upon me to learn to idle, which, after 5+ years of unicycling I have yet to accomplish)

“Is that Hard? How long did it take you to learn that?”

These are indeed stupid questions in my view. They have no relevance or validity, especially coming from people who will never attempt to ride a unicycle.

“Lighten up,” my non-unicycling freinds say. “You’re riding a (ha ha) U- (hahahaha) UNIcycle! (hahahahahahahahahhahahaha).

If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen, right? Well I can’t hardly stand it, but ceasing and desisting is not an option.

I’m not sure exactly why it is so difficult to ignore or take it in stride. Perhaps it is my karma; my lonely cross to bear?

I’m interested to hear how any of you introverted types have managed to overcome this psychological problem. I know I cannot be the only one bothered by this.

Most of the time I manage to keep my mouth shut and my finger down, but not always. How to deal with this gracefully?

Eh, it bothered me for a few years, but then I learned that there are hobbies out there that even I think “what’s the point of that?”. It’s human nature to be taken aback and wanting to target something that deviates from the norm. I 100% believe that almost all people that make those comments don’t mean it in a personal way - they just don’t know how else to respond to it.

At the end of the day, live life and shrug it off. There’s no “cross to bear”. :slight_smile:

They are just downplaying unicycling because they are to lazy to learn.

I ride places that are less well traveled

I ride on days and at times when said places are less well traveled

I pretend I’m in New York City: Avoid making eye contact

Try ear buds, even if the sound is off, people will see the wires and assume you can’t hear them; or turn up the volume so you really can’t hear them :smiley:

Personally, I don’t ride on the road, it’s dangerous for bikers, but it’s even more dangerous for unicyclists.

Pick a road with a substantial shoulder so at leat you have a spacing cushion for rubber neckers.

Ride at night with lights, they won’t look hard enough to realize you only have one wheel.

Drink more beer :smiley:

I should not be replying here, but I can’t help myself!

IMHO… Most of those “gawkers” are just impressed with what you are doing Ben B. They are enjoying seeing something unusual. I LOVE to hear the conversations in the distance. " LOOK! Mom! A unicycle!, etc!" It makes me smile! I’m not sure why.

I’m not a bonifide introvert, but I AM somewhat of a loner. The unicycle has helped me “meet” people in my neighborhood that I would normally not meet. Just a friendly smile or even half a wave makes me feel so good! It’s FUN! …and I don’t usually like chance encounters with people.

Riding a unicycle, I don’t have to make the effort to visit, but I know people are enjoying what I’m doing, which gives me a huge kick!

I find it interesting that there seems to be such different reactions (among members here) to attention from strangers and non unicyclists. For myself, lots of the fun is reaction from people, but I also enjoy riding in a state of “being by myself.”

I’m interested in the answers you get from this discussion Ben B.
Hope I didn’t get too far off track. I used to say I was an introvert that wants to be an extrovert.
Maybe the unicycle is one way to achieve that.

Thanks for posing the question Ben B.

On trails, I’ve only met people who were nice or just ignored the fact that I was there. Sometimes even having long conversations with people that usually result in them asking if they can take a picture to send to their buddies who “will never believe this”.

The times I’ve run into people on the road however, I’ve experienced the same problems. Keep in mind this is a 150 yard jaunt to a dirt road by my house, yet somehow everyone that passes me with their window rolled down has something to say. Usually they don’t slow down so I have no chance to reply, except with my favorite finger.

As I get ready to venture into the world of distance riding though, I think I’ll need to grow a thicker skin. :smiley:

I don’t wanna sound like I’m berating people but to those of y’all who respond to comments with “the finger”, all you’re doing is building a stereotype to those people that unicyclists are stand-offish and wanting to avoid interaction with others.

I’ve ridden on the road quite a bit and it does get challenging with screams, and such. When I ride on roads, tarmac trails, canal trails, people will place their phones inconspicuously (they think) and take pictures thinking they are sneaking it, some actually ask if they can. It has just become funny.

When I had my 36er riding on the road as you said was especially a challenge, people would drive by and stare at the unicycle and pay no attention to where they were going. I kept thinking to myself “oh please look at the road, don’t crash”. I kept visualizing one crashing and blaming me because they were busy looking at the unicycle.

I’m pretty much an introvert so at first it was extremely difficult and I would become nervous when I started my ride and until I rode about 20 minutes.

There comes a time you just say “who cares what they think” and enjoy the ride. I almost always use ear buds, I only use it in one ear and I keep my music very low so I an hear oncoming traffic, screams, other bicyclist etc, because it would be more disturbing if they catch you off guard.

Unfortunately we aren’t the norm so there will be stares, remarks and lots of pictures, lol. Even though you don’t like the attention try to think of it that your probably never going to see these people again so who cares.

If you give someone the finger just make sure you can pedal faster then whatever they are doing, lol :astonished:

^ +1

^ +1

Besides… Unicyclists are nice people!!
Don’t be messing up that reputation.

Unfortunately you’re not going to be able to change people. There will always be another jerk, or genuinely entertained person, to take the place of another.

I think the solution really is to “lighten up” or rather find a way to mentally deal with it. Maybe turn it into a game? I don’t know… how about tally up the number to a stares, comments, phone pics, etc for each ride. It’s like you’re out collecting them. Beat your high score, or record the data and discover some trends… based on time of day, day of week, route you take. Something that makes it so you are now using those people for your entertainment. Respond to their comments with a smile and “Thank you”, regardless of whether that makes sense.

Good advice. Don’t get yourself in trouble.

I’m 100% big time introvert. WHen I began learning, I did it at night. I have a strange personality and I can’t perform when people are eyeballing me. After a couple of years I got really fed up, sounds like I was about where you seem to be right now. What did I do? I gave it up. Seems like such a ridiculous F**ing sport anyway:p I sold all my unis and walked away from it, pretended I never had done it.

I got by a couple of years without it. I started missing it. After awhile I missed it a lot, and it sucked me back in. :slight_smile:

It still bothers me when people eyeball me while I’m practicing something new, so I try and find places where there are no people. Sometimes its hard to find. When I’m out riding on the dirt trails it bothers me much less, everyone is out there for the same reason, I’m just on a different, much harder ride. Most of the conversations are cool and short so it’s all good. When I’m out on the road, I put headphones on and don’t make eye contact, just tune it all out. I keep that finger tucked away, I’ll flip people off in my mind, but thats it. Try and keep a positive attitude, try and believe that people out there are on your side… most of them are.

Nicely put.

I stopped riding for decades, because of the terrible seat, and also the unwanted attention. As I got older and cared less what people think, it doesn’t bother me anymore. In fact, I’ve found, mostly, that people are genuinely interested, and I now enjoy the conversations with people that would normally never happen sans unicycle.

The question “Is that hard!” is very stupid. I mean, really. I always say, “It’s like anything. It’s hard until you learn it. Walking is hard until you learn.” But I think it’s only a stupid question because we’ve heard it so much. I think people want to engage you and don’t know quite what to say.

That’s fair. But let me explain myself a bit. If I meet someone on the trail, I always try to be as curteous as possible, and am more than willing to stop and converse peacefully with anyone who want’s to talk to me.

But when someone in a car drives by, window rolled down, yelling what a retard I am as they speed by, my response isn’t going to be very nice.

If someone want’s to drive by cheering me on, more power to them. I’ll smile and wave, but that hasn’t happened yet.

But, again, my experiences are limited. AND like I said, as I get into distance riding, I will learn to look the other way and zip it.

Please don’t think I’m riding around like some kind of smart assed thug on a wheel. :o

I really try to be an ambassador to the sport, but most people think it’s some kind of joke.

I don’t think it’s a stupid question at all, and it’s certainly not intended to be a negative comment by most people. I’ve been asked that by several people I know to one extent or another - one person I now chat with quite often, but didn’t know at all before I started riding I had a long conversation with about it. It’s actually quite an interesting point if you think about it properly - I quite enjoy explaining in a friendly way. The point about walking is a good one - my usual quick explanation is that it’s no harder than learning to walk, except you do that when you’re 1, so you don’t remember how many times you fell over and you’ve practiced it so much that it’s now instinctive. I’d argue that riding a uni is intrinsically easier than running.

Anyway, I’ve gone way OT here. I am in some ways naturally quite shy, but in other ways a bit extrovert - I do quite like the attention, so probably can’t empathise all that much. My best advice though would be that the problem isn’t so much other people as your reaction to them - if you can’t embrace it (which is what I’d recommend) then best to work on just ignoring it. I have to admit I don’t like other people watching when I’m learning new stuff (so likely to fall off lots), so I do tend to find quiet places to do that, and just try to ignore other people if they are around.

I’ve done a lot of bike riding on the road, so if somebody drives by yelling abuse I tend to give them a friendly wave back. It doesn’t do anybody any good to get angry yourself - far better for your blood pressure to be friendly back (and that’s likely to bother them more than if they get the expected result!)

People have actually shouted “Retard” at you? That just is poor form indeed.
I think Anton005 siad that he was shot at with a BB gun. That’s just horrible.

Fortunately, nothing even remotely close to these stated experiences has
ever happened to me. I don’t look forward to it either, but I guess it is best
to be forewarned.

Hopefully you’ll get better neighbors!

So you choose to ride a unicycle in public, and get annoyed at people being people. Let’s look at this a little bit at a time.

Being introverted is a choice. If you know you are an introvert, you can take comfort in that and live life accordingly. If you don’t like it, you can work to change it. Don’t let a label rule your life. Same for misanthropic. Whether self-applied, granted to you by a teacher or counselor or even your parents, you can choose to live up to that label, or move away from it.

I used to bey shy and introverted. Now I’m not. I haven’t made a perfect transition away from those things, but people would be very unlikely to apply those labels to me now. While the unicycle was probably a part of that change for me, it doesn’t have to be for you.

I actually did, and was happy with the attention for a while. That was 30 years ago. Today, while I don’t mind attention, I don’t ride to get it. I would be fine to not be noticeable. But oops, I’m the only guy around on a 36" unicycle, so people do notice, and for whatever reasons, they want to let me know they noticed.

My wife is bothered by this attention a lot more than myself. We go riding the local bike path together. We make an odd pair, me on my 36" and she on her recumbent. She would probably get some attention for her interesting bike, but she doesn’t, because usually she’s riding near me. Instead, what she gets if she’s riding behind me, is danger of people crashing into her as they crane their necks behind them to keep watching the unicyclist! That has gotten old for her pretty fast.

So I don’t want/need attention. Unfortunately that has no effect on the people around me. So I can choose to not ride around people (which can be difficult depending where you live). Or I can choose to ignore them, which is fine. I don’t feel it necessary to completely ignore, since people are mostly just trying to offer a compliment. So I give them a ring of my bike bell. Get a bike bell. People who say rude stuff get nothing. No eye contact, no response; you didn’t even hear them; their words were wasted on you. Nice people get a ring of the bell, but you can just keep on riding.

Another way to cut down on the direct attention is to just ride faster. Then you don’t even hear many comments until you’ve passed the people. :slight_smile:

Really you have to either ignore/get used to it, or not ride in such public spaces. If you’ve never tried riding mountain bike trails, I highly recommend it. The further the trail is from civilization, the nicer the people are. It’s a night and day difference from riding on urban streets.

Some people are legitimately interested in unicycling, while others are making conversation because they are impressed. Lame questions? Yes. But they are typical. Move to another state and the questions will stay the same. You can give people joke answers. Is that hard? Not as hard as the ground. How long did it take you to learn? State the number of years since you learned. I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning. I get to say 32 years. But for people who actually seem interested I try to encourage them. Anyone can learn. It takes hours, but the main secret is not giving up. Stuff like that. Or just keep on riding and ring your bell.

Your friends are right. Or, as my wife sometimes says, get over yourself. People are reacting to you. They are reacting to a guy on a unicycle. Don’t take it personally. It’s like rain on a day you go to the beach. You can’t change it.

No, you are not the only one. Probably most of us have gone through your phase. But remember, karma is a choice. If you believe you are “doomed” to certain conditions, those conditions will be more likely to happen to you. Don’t doom yourself. And don’t bear any crosses you don’t want to bear.

Ride. Have fun! Remember the inane comments are from people who think it’s cool. The rude comments (or thrown bottles, etc.) are from people who feel threatened by your skill. They need to get over themselves even more than you do. :slight_smile:

Just keep riding- the more you ride in an area, the more the locals will get used to the sight of you and the less comments and abuse you’ll get.

As a couple of people have pointed pointed out, when idiots throw abuse, ignoring them, or just giving a friendly wave, can be more effective than the finger. I know it’s difficult, especially when they’ve acted in a way which puts you in actual danger, but, in terms of consequences, even when you’re fully justified in giving the finger, ignoring them or, a friendly wave, are likely to have more useful results.

It may help to reflect on the fact that anyone who feels the need to hurl abuse (or, worse, objects) at someone purely cos they’re doing something different, is likely a disfunctional individual having a miserable time- they spend their days putting down others just to get a response, they expect the finger- give them something different; it may even result in them having a thoughtful moment for once :slight_smile:

As for cars slowing/stopping and messing up your route across intersections- yes, that is annoying. We’d much prefer that they drive as they should and be predictable, then things would be easier. I find that being dominant can be a big help- give them a look which conveys ‘what the hell are you doing- why are you slowing down in such a stupid place?’ then indicate that you’re now going to continue riding, and they need to let you pass. Obviously, build up to it, and, make sure you’re making the right decisions. But, usually, once they’re realised that are ensuing traffic conditions are the consequence of their mistake, they’ll fall in line with what you’re doing to rectify it.

That’s your personal choice, and, your opinion.

My opinion is that roads are dangerous for bikers, but less so for unicyclists, due to many factors, including the greater visibility of unicyclists, the fact that cars are far more likely to give space to a unicycle (sometimes to an annoying extent e.g. the drivers who hang behind at 7mph, presumably cos they’re scared to pass, so I have to actually wave them on) etc.

Although I do generally avoid really big busy roads.