You only have to lurk for a short time on most Mountain Biking
listservs to appreciate the level of dialogue that happens on the
On that note:
One thing that distinguishes some adventure sports from others is the
attitude towards risk. As mountain unicycling grows in popularity, more
people are going to try more adventurous things. One of the big things
that really bothers me about the Freeride Mountain Bike Scene is the
constant glorification of risk that goes on, both socially (ie very common
remarks on bike listservs implying “I’m cooler than you are because I do
bigger drops”), and the sensationalism of bike videos. This also goes on
to some degree in other sports such as Motocross, snowmobiling, skiing,
snowboarding, BMX and skateboarding.
Other adventure sports have way more risk than mountain biking, and more
people doing way more committing, dangerous things, but the attitude
towards risk is incredibly different. In Climbing and Mountaineering,
people tend to approach risk in an extremely humble fashion- I’ve never
seen anyone goaded to try anything they were uncomfortable with when
climbing, and climbing videos and magazines typically ebrace the adventure
without glorifying the risk.
As mountain unicycling evolves I hope that our “intelligent” culture means
that adventurous unicyclists will deal with risk in an understated, humble
way without the (in my opinion fairly silly) level of attitude apparent in
other sports. This may sound strange coming from someone featured riding
4" from the edge of a 2000 foot cliff in Skilletto/New World Disorder, but
that’s one reason I wanted to open up this discussion.
— John Foss <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > After reading lots of posts, and meeting many unicyclists, I have come
> > to the conclusion that most unicyclists are very very smart. I believe
> > this goes for jugglers as well. For example, I know unicyclists and/or
> > jugglers who are engineers, teachers, composers, scientists, writers,
> > computer programmers and doctors. Is this just a coincidence or is
> > there some link between unicycling/juggling and a person’s I.Q.?
> I think there is. I my nearly 22 years involvement I have noticed, since
> my early unicycle club days, lots of smart people in unicycling. This
> does not mean you have to be smart or an overachiever, but unicycling
> seems to attract them.
> I think part of it is the long attention span and dedication required to
> get you there in the first place. Many people give up, and decide it’s
> one of those "I can’t"s and add it to a list of things from which they
> may permanently disqualify themselves. When confronted with things like
> unicycling and juggling, how often have you heard "I couldn’t do that
> for my life!" I’ve heard that phrase a lot.
> So to start with, unicycling is built from the pool of people who don’t
> have the tendency to say that. Not only do they try it, they stick with
> it for the hours, days, or weeks it takes to get success. Also as
> somebody mentioned, it is the people who aren’t afraid to look a little
> stupid or silly while they’re trying to learn.
> Mark Wiggins reminds us of the Internet angle. This unicycling
> community, those of us that know each other, are all computer users.
> Actual scientific studies have shown that computer users tend to have
> higher intelligence (and make more money, etc.) so we at least know that
> much is true.
> But go to conventions. I’ve been around unicyclists since before the
> computer revolution, and there were still lots of smart people. Today’s
> smart people just tend to have computers.
> From my involvement as an instructor with the National Circus Project, I
> learned that the act of learning to juggle forges neural pathways
> between the left and right sides of the brain. In theory, juggling makes
> you smarter. The same can be projected for unicycling. Every time you
> learn a new skill, you force your brain to work hard and possibly form
> new pathways. I have heard people suggest that the brain is like a
> muscle, and the more you use it the better it gets at thinking.
> Riding a unicycle is like a constant stream of problem-solving. Just to
> stay on the thing, your brain has to process information at a certain
> intensity and speed. Riding a bike requires only a fraction of the
> brainpower. Juggling probably uses an amount more similar to unicycling,
> though it involves less of the body to keep the juggle up. Both skills
> also require lots of problem solving. You had to solve problems to learn
> to ride or juggle, and solve more problems to keep them going.
> So as unicyclists and jugglers, perhaps we are like mental
> power-lifters. We use our brains a lot, so they are better equipped to
> handle other thinking situations. This is good for anyone.
> Now, what about non-connected unicyclists. That is, people who don’t
> regularly use computers? Where do we find them? Conventions, clubs, and
> school groups. Not everyone in the group is probably a computer user,
> but we get to see them at conventions or parades with the rest of their
> group. Everyone in the club or school group is getting mental benefits
> from unicycling, even if they don’t take it any further than the basic
> school or club activities. They still had to learn to ride, and it’s a
> benefit you keep for life.
> But the big groups always seem to have a percentage of members who are
> followers more than they are leaders, and don’t stand out as much. Club
> riders come and go, but we remember the stars. I guess this is true for
> anything, but I have noticed over the years that I should have different
> expectations from riders if they’re from an elementary school club, or
> middle school club, or a hobby club.
> School club members may not own their own unicycles. In elementary
> school, they usually don’t start until 4th grade or so, and may only
> have access to a unicycle a couple of hours per week. By the time the
> school year is over, there’s only a limited amount of success they can
> expect compared to a rider who owns their own.
> Middle or junior high school riders are starting at an older age, which
> means a higher state of physical and mental development. They can
> progress faster. But they have the same limitations otherwise if they
> don’t own their unicycles.
> Club riders almost always own their unicycles, and the average skill
> level depends on the type of activities the club does. At one extreme is
> the Twin Cities Unicycle Club, with multiple gyms and lots of available
> practice time. Not to mention coaches at the very highest levels of
> unicycle skill. Other unicycle clubs may specialize in parade riding,
> which is a whole different approach and doesn’t require as much burning
> of the brain cells to learn.
> What’s it all mean? It means I’m proud to be a unicyclist. As my friends
> have often heard me say, “Unicycling 'been 'berry good to me.”
> Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone email@example.com
> “Freedom is not free”
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