RE: Highest drop successfully negotiated
> Has anyone made it over 9ft?
Yup. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but it was a long time ago, about 100
years! You can see a picture of this feat on the cover of the October 1974 issue
of the Unicycling Society of America Newsletter (back issues available:
The guy’s name was Sebastian Paul Newhausen, though he performed under the name
S.P. Merrill. I glanced at the article last night, and it was fascinating. Now I
wish I’d brought it to work to give you more facts. This guy, with a partner,
were famous around the turn of the century for a trick they used to do on a
tandem bike. They rode it down a big ramp, hit a trip bar that made the bike to
a complete forward flip, then landed on a continuation of the downhill ramp in
complete control. I’ve seen illustrations of this feat, which were inaccurate
because they show the bike flipping backwards which it did not do.
Sebastian was also an inventor. Apparently one of the things he invented was the
first freewheel for a bicycle, the design for which he sold to his two friends,
the Wright brothers. It came on the market ten years later.
But the trick we’re talking about is a drop. The picture on the cover of the
newsletter shows a purpose-built stairway, which looks like it’s about 12’ tall
(well over twice the height of a man standing under it). It has a small platform
at the top, and Merrill would hop his unicycle up the stairs and ride off. Later
they changed it to a stairway held up by a single pole, which was knocked out by
a clumsy clown while Merrill was supposedly performing on top. The audiences
would freak out when the stairway fell, but then they would see that he landed
right side up and rode away.
The unicycle was a handlebar type, with no seat. I can’t imagine how heavy the
thing must have been, to be able to withstand the drop. But he hopped it up all
those stairs. Wow!
Whenever you wonder if a trick or feat has been done before always start at
Vaudeville. If you can’t find it there, then you can start thinking it might
Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone http://www.unicycling.com
“Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.” – Forrest Gump