How much attention do you feel obligated to give friendly people when you ride?

When it comes to dealing with haters, the answer is obviously the same in unicycling as it is in all areas of life: ignore them and ride on. I’m curious, though, to know how much attention you guys feel obligated to give the well-intentioned people who want it. I do like being complimented, and I do like friendly waves, but often I just want it to be me and the path, total solitude, total concentration. I’d prefer there were no other people, and if I must deal with them, then I don’t feel I should have to give them any more attention than the amount necessary to avoid dangerous situations. It wouldn’t be an unreasonable thing for a bicyclist to say, “I just want to feel alone out there,” so why should it be an unreasonable thing for a unicyclist to say that? What’s your personal stance on this? Am I being an ungrateful jerk?

You’re being an ungrateful jerk. Try, instead, to be an ambassador for unicycling.

I am that way sometimes when I ride Muni, and I ignore those people. It generally works because I’m concentrating on the trail and my riding.

On the street with a slow Uni, that might be harder to pull off because they’re often in your face.

With a fast street Uni, by the time they finish what they’re saying, you’re well past them!

What sort of conversations are you having, and to what degree do you feel trapped by them?

Since I started being able to generally ride (vs attempt to ride) most of the conversations I’ve had have been enjoyable - in effect, they’ve only lasted because I chose to let them, either talking to pedestrians while already stopped, or talking to bicyclists who chose to slow to my speed while I kept moving at it, and ending either as they accelerated on or I hopped off for my own purposes.

That said, early on I did have some interactions with people who wanted to have a try, who I found a bit annoying. One an ex-unicyclist who managed to drop a new (and since shelved) saddle on the pavement thus causing its only bumper rash (not that I didn’t do the same to someone else’s graciously lent if perhaps more worn unicycle before buying my own), and another with someone who really wanted to try who I refused as I was worn out and just wanted to walk home and not deal with it all.

I do tend to tell people about local unicycling events (as I’m fortunate to have them) and that serves as a bit of a dodge, since it then makes it up to their initiative to show up to those.

Have you tried “it’s been nice talking but a I want to finish [the loop, the path, getting home] before [work/dark/my bedtime]” ?

Nobody is under an obligation to be a unicycle ambassador. Really, some of us just like the sport. It’s attention grabbing, and some people would prefer not to have the attention.

Sometimes a smile and a wave is all you need. Most of the time I wear my earbuds whether they’re on or off so people aren’t offended when I may ignore them.

I have days where I really don’t want to be bothered, and stopping to talk, or even riding and talking can be a large inconvenience. I hope most people understand, and I’m sure they would if they thought about it for a few moments. There are other days I’m happy to stop and take a water break and talk on the trail or road. Heck if I’m on a smaller wheel and they want to give it a go, I’ve done that too… but some days you just want to ride, and nobody should make you feel guilty for that.

You are correct. That is why I recommended that one try and did not insist that one do.

Some of you are going to be really jealous when you read the following:

People are generally not so friendly in my neighborhood, and as a result, they mostly leave me alone. Bwaaahahaha!!!

I think you need to sort out people, based on whether their comments are patronizing/dismissive or curious/enlightened. A smile and a nod is a good response to the patronizing/dismissive crowd; they’ll be satisfied with having the last word, and you’ll be satisfied that the conversation was brief and that you can continue riding. If they are curious, they’ll ask questions, and it’ll be worth it from a unicycle-ambassador standpoint for you to stop and talk with them.

When I began unicycling, several neighbors commented how I failed to make eye contact with them while riding. My brain was working so hard just to stay up on the unicycle, I couldn’t be social while riding. So, I was called-out for being antisocial.

Catsmeat, you may be in an antisocial stage of the learning process. Perhaps a major focus for you right now is riding long,uninterrupted distances, which is not conducive to conversation. Don’t worry about it.

This is how I see it. When you’re new at unicycling you require a lot of focus on oneself, and you might feel awkard of people looking at you weirdly, at your fumbling ways. You sometimes wished you were better at it so you wouldn’t ‘feel’ so awkward…well, at least I had that feeling when I first started. But keep reminding yourself, you will be much better in time.

Now, Im real comfortable with the wheel. It almost feels like riding a bike, and hardly any attention is needed to stay upwards. I find everbody with a friendly attitude, maybe because I first project my friendliness and confidence first, then it reciprocates onto them. Always be courteous to walkers and joggers, and also to bicyclists. Lend a smile, it goes a long ways.

I believe so, we ‘should’ try to be ambassadors to most of our audiences. There’s no superior, no inferior to, there’s no arrogance in riding a uni. Its just for the pure simple love for it. Very true, love is much better than anger. Pass it on.

“How much attention do you feel obligated to give friendly people when you ride?”

In answer to that question, my short answer is “None at all, but be nice.” There are days when I’m just trying to do a fast ride and don’t want to interact. On those rides it helps to be actually going fast, so you just fly by. I have a bell on my Road uni, and ring it if people wave or say nice stuff.

But as a member of the Unicycling Society of America, part of what we want to do is be ambassadors of the sport to the rest of the world; in other words, to paint it in a positive light. So most of the time I tend to be helpful and informative. Especially when people ask intelligent questions!

When it comes to people asking to try, it helps to be tall. Most people aren’t tall enough to ride my unicycles. Or have a 36", which rarely gets any requests. Or a tall giraffe. But if you do hand over your unicycle for someone to try it, prepare for it to be dropped. That’s normal. A seat with no marks on it is a seat that hasn’t lived. :slight_smile:

Be pitiful, for everyone is fighting a hard battle. (cit)

I don’t really want to get noticed by crowds, but I only ride muni and on my favourite trails, I only find the freerider type of mountain bikers.
Maybe 2/3 on every ride, so it’s not a big problem.
I try my best to avoid their gopros, that really annoys me.

If you are planning to keep it, sure.

Thing is I was rapidly concluding I didn’t like that seat, and that of the two I bought it would be the one I would sell.

99% of people I meet do smile and are friendly.
I really like to stop and chat with them : that’s a welcome rest (Muni is so tiring!)!

  • I am an old geezer so even angry teens prefer the polite/smiling option (after all I am out of the mating competition :stuck_out_tongue: so they do not have to deprecate me in front of “their” girl)
  • I am rather extrovert (and even tend to show off :D) so I never miss an opportunity to talk about the sport. I often put childs on my seat : parents love the picture!

:slight_smile: I don’t need my unicycle to be antisocial. I am very shy to begin with. I think it is funny to have contact when riding my uni and I just smile at people with dumb remarks like if I’m searching for my other wheel or when mountain bikers think the forest is not a place for my muni.
The other day when riding 11km in the forest, there was someone who was genuinely interested and we had a nice talk. That was also a nice break to get some feeling back in my legs.

I was in NYC last May riding up a quite street with brownstones in southern Manhattan. Some guy was sitting on the steps and shouted to me asking if he could try and ride my unicycle. I don’t know why but I stopped and let him try. It turned out, he had ridden as a kid and could still ride a little. In talking with him, he was the film director that shot the Tommy Chong documentary (it was on HBO I think), a pretty interesting guy. Unicycling can be an ice breaker with people. Sometimes you meet cool people and sometimes not but I try and talk with people for a few minutes when they express an interest.

I tend to enjoy the attention this hobby brings, and I’ve never once experienced a single disrespectful comment. I’ve had a handful of people want to try (which I always let them) and even met a fellow unicyclist this way. I’ve had great conversations with people over everything from their dogs to some pretty deep philosophical musings with random strangers.

Since I tend to be about as awkward as a comedian at a funeral when it comes to meeting new people, it’s been a great help in that regard.

With that being said, I get the feeling of wanting to just focus on the riding sometimes. If I’m trying to learn a new trick or accomplish something I am really driven toward, it can be a bit frustrating to get interrupted every five minutes by someone.

I passed a oncoming funeral procession last week. They just started driving so there were a lot of people still waiting by their cars. I got the feeling that they did not like me riding there. I think they considered the presence of a person they considered to be a clown inappropriate. It was the only time i felt embarrassed and wanted to be on my own. Usually i respond to people in a friendly manner offering rides and such.

A couple weeks ago I was walking my unicycle through the University student center to the bike repair shop after spending the day helping students with their bikes outside. An employee started telling me there was no bike riding in the student center which really made me angry since it’s part of my job to fix peoples bikes there and I was actually on the clock pulling a cart full of equipment. But it turned out that he was just being friendly and he was joking about there not being any rules about unicycles.

I hope I didn’t offend him when I initially got angry. I don’t know if he could tell how annoyed I was before I realized that he was just making a joke. I try to be polite to everyone even if I don’t have time to do anything other than wave at someone who’s interested. Most of the time when I’m not polite I regret it later.

@ catsmeat

A teacher in my school used to say…

“You can please some of the people some of the time
And all the people some of the time
But you cant please all the people all the time”.

Having said all that, I agree with Harper’s comment about being an ambassador for unicycling. A courteous nod or smile is often enough.

And please remember that you don’t share the anonymity that bicyclists enjoy. You will be recognised the next time you pass that person.

Loved riding in NYC. Last year I spent a week there with my 20"/100mm cranks and got a lot of “whoa” and “awesome” comments. After a few days, it seemed like everybody in my street knew me. Only bad comment was an old woman with three tiny dogs who literally freaked out and started to scream “get off the sidewalk!!!” in a panic.

Oh jeeez:p, we are somewhat perceived a little clownish arent we, always bring out the mood of laughter and happiness, so I can see where that is the place of possibly inappropriateness…

Just last week, I was on my big wheel 36er, riding my usual bay trail route. As I was rounding the corner I must have caught these two chattering ladies by surprise. They exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, A unicyclist!” and immediately broke out in a huge laughter as I was about to pass by them. I responded by a smile and said “Hi good morning”, and I can still hear them laughing as I passed…
Even though they problably knew it wasn’t polite laugh so hard at others, Im sure they couldnt help themselves, afterall, Im not too tall and I ride this huge thing. I’d problably laugh at myself if I saw myself riding;)
…oh well, I’ll just take it as a compliment as I placed a morning smile on their faces to perk them up for the day.