indoor )-O practice areas

Ken Fuchs <kfuchs@winternet.com> suggested I look for an indoor practice area to
hone my skills.

What do others here have to say about the difference between indoor and outdoor
riding/practicing?

Ken says I should ask permission to practice in a public building like an
elementary school gym or activity room. He suggested I offer to teach a
unicycling class in return for such a favor. I’d love to do that. So far the
only people who have shown interest are kids (and adults) who seem to feel
cheated if I don’t fall on my butt.

Has anyone here gotten permission to do that? Was it hard? Who did you talk
to, what concerns/objections were raised and how did you respond? Did you have
to sign personal injury waivers or financial-responsibility-for
-property-damage papers? Am I going to have to wear so much safety equipment
that I can’t even wiggle?

The concerns I expect to hear are: liability for personal injury, as in "we
can’t be responsible for your safety (my blood just boils when I hear this
all-purpose copout) and “we don’t want our nice floors ruined”. For the latter I
can point out (as Ken suggests) that nothing but rubber and soft plastic can hit
the floor, but it’s just my word that the tires won’t scuff the varnish on
hardwood gym floors or the wax on vinyl tile. And in fact I have no direct
experience in the matter.

What about off-the-wall excuses that rational people can’t predict? Here’s a
for-instance:

Flashback

Last winter I rode to work on my bike 85% of the time, driving the car only
when the snow got too deep to ride in. The plant safety director noticed this
after about a month and called me onto the carpet for a sermon about how
foolish I was to risk frostbite, hypothermia, you can’t ride a bike on ice,
yatta yatta yatta. I could answer those concerns readily based on three winters
of prior experience at other plants with no “incidents” & having all appendages
intact. The practical considerations involved in achieving this were quite an
education for him.

That took the wind out of his sails but THEN he said “If a motorist hit you,
he/she would be traumatized”. How would YOU answer that? My answer was that
being “traumatized” would be a convenient way to avoid responsibility for
driving too fast and not paying attention and deflect all the blame to me.

(In the privacy of my own head, I said "I can hear the screams now, as I lie
bleeding in the ditch with my bike wrapped around my head: “Oh s–t! I scratched
the bumper! My husband will kill me!” or “There goes my safe-driver insurance
premium discount. I’m going to kill that bike nut if he isn’t already dead.”)

Well, that made no sense whatsoever to the safety director but this did: I had
to commit to adding 2 miles to a 14 mile commute to come in the back gate to the
plant. “For my safety”, I had to stop riding on a straight, well paved, well lit
and snowplowed road with a 30 mph speed limit and ride on a hilly, twisty,
potholed, unlit and unplowed road with no speed limit until next spring–or be
forbidden to ride on plant property at all.

End of flashback

That’s the kind of insanity I fear. If I do make a plea for access, I want to
come loaded for bear–names, addresses and phone numbers of club organizers and
building superintendents. Written statements to the effect that, from direct
experience, no damage, unusual wear or serious injury has resulted. Glowing
praise of educational, health and community benefits from organized unicycling
activities would be nice too.

I realize I’m asking a lot. Heck, just expecting you to read my marathon posts
is bad enough. If this tendency is bothering anyone, don’t be shy, just send me
a nastygram by email.

Dennis Kathrens
d.kathrens@genie.geis.com