Insight into "Where's your other wheel?"

I was standing outside a Dunkin’ Donuts at lunchtime today sipping a coffee and getting ready to ride back to work. I was decked out in a bike helmet and full-finger cycling gloves and standing beside my 29er.

Three girls were walking down the sidewalk. As they started to pass by, one said “Where’s your other wheel?”

I smiled appreciatively – and then very gently teased her that that’s not very original and that I know she could do better (I babbled something to that effect – my sudden attempt at a friendly exchange was probably no better than hers). But lo and behold, along with asking a few intelligent questions, she explained her thought process behind making that remark.

As she approached me, she saw – from a distance – a cyclist and a wheel (bike, front wheel, whatever). She noticed this totally ordinary situation – and thought nothing of it. But as she got closer, more details emerged and registered in her brain. That guy only has one wheel! New information: it’s NOT a bike, it’s a unicycle! How delightfully unusual and surprising! Say something! “Hey, where’s your other wheel?” (I’ve embellished the latter part of her thought process a little.)

I think that SOME of the comments we get are motivated by this “unfolding” process. At a glance or from a distance, they see the totally ordinary – a person riding a bike. Then, their reality is suddenly transformed – like in a dream – to something totally unusual and quite improbable – a wheel is suddenly subtracted! Surprised (and being a friendly and curious social creature), they want to interact with this interesting anomaly. Time being of the essence, their comment stems from the last thing that registered in their brain: there’s only one wheel!

Dave (uni57)

P.S. - Later, a guy on a bike passed me going the other way. Had he looked a bit friendlier, I would have said “Hey, with one wheel you can drink coffee!” (which I was.) I’m going to start making my own comments. Why does it always have to be THEM? Why not a nice pre-emptive “Have you seen my other wheel???” (as you look around frantically for it)

Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

Each to his own…

If a bicyclist makes eye contact with me and appears friendly, but says nothing, I occasionally say,

“I see you paid the extra,” or (if I’m struggling with the terrain)
“Now that’s a good idea,” or (if they are riding no handed, or doing a wheelie) “You’re coming on well.”

I wouldn’t go for the frantic looking round and ‘where’s my wheel?’ comment because it might reinforce the silly/nutter/circus/clown image of unicyclists.

IMHO, any comment we make should be low key, a little ‘dry’, and should project a confidence in the ‘normality’ of what we’re doing.

(Good luck with the girl. I guess you’ll be putting some effort into coincidentally being in exactly the same place at the same time next week.:wink: )

You don’t really need to. Giving them the ‘cyclists’ wave’ usually messes them up enough

If the (bi)cyclist is friendly looking, I give them a nod and a smile and watch the look of astonishment on their face as I sail cooly past them. If they are the hostile type then I wait until they are quite a long way past and shout stuff like “CHEAT!” or “Get a real unicycle!” If I see them again at all they smile the second time :slight_smile:

I think it would be fun to make an occasional comment – instead of always a response. But I’m not sure what a cyclists’ wave is. How about a unicyclists’ bow?

Dave (uni57)

The cyclist’s wave

Just like on motor bikes, as you are passing the oncoming cyclist, you simply aknowledge him with a wave of your (usually) left hand. He returns it, and you both ride away smiling.

Sometimes, roadbikers won’t wave back to mountainbikers, or vice versa. These people are dinks.

So, while on top of Ol’ Cokey, getting a wave from an oncoming roadie is pretty cool.

The wave can be overridden by a verbal greeting, if distance permits. (but you don’t shout ‘Hey, how’s it going?!’ from across the street)

Re: Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

This topic probably deserves its own thread (it’s probably been discussed before). I understand what you are saying and I partially agree. Unicycling should be considered a serious sport. KH and JF and Dustin and all the other more visible unicyclists do a fantastic job of representing the sport. They don’t act silly. Not even here.

But… I am a silly person. Not always. But sometimes. And so are many of us. I want unicycling to be taken seriously and not to be so strongly associated with the circus. But I also like to make people laugh and feel good. So, if the mood strikes and I feel that the humor will be well received, I just might “clown around” a bit. I’m not going to try to be something I’m not.

I understand that to some people (to whom I’m the only unicyclist they’ve ever seen), I am the sole ambassador to the sport. That’s why I’m always polite and friendly and I ignore negative comments. I’m also semi-skilled – enough to impress non-riders, anyway. (riding down the road drinking a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is my favorite “impressive” skill). I do a good job of representing the sport. I’m not worried about being a little silly on occasion.

Dave (uni57)

Re: Re: Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

(Heavily snipped)

I thought this was its own thread. ;0)

Unicycling MAY be considered a serious sport. ‘Should’ is prescriptive. For most unicyclists - the overwhelming majority who don’t post in this forum - unicycling is just a slightly zany activity. Pragmatically, I’d rather encourage the view that it is a serious sport because that way I get more ‘respeck’ and less abuse.

I, too, clown about a bit. Indeed, I perform in public shows on my unicycle, and do so in the persona of a Fool, not a gymnast or athlete. Consider the difference between these options:

(A) Friendly passer by says, ‘Where’s your other wheel?’. You give a jokey/hammy response. This can be funny.

(B) Someone is passing by and you initiate an exchange by asking where your other wheel is. This can make you look like a silly show off, and provoke hostility.

I’m not saying you are a silly show off; I’m just pointing out a difference of emphasis.

None of us is an appointed ambassador for the sport, but it is a good idea if we remember that our actions might affect the reception the next unicylist receives. I guess all the people who post here know that and usually acto accordingly.

Sometimes we (I) can take it all too seriously. It’s an absurd activity; it’s a minority sport. It’s both, and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t have a little bit of show off in us.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

Actually, this thread started out discussing the thought process behind “where’s your other wheel?”

Okay, I guess I need a remedial English lesson. I used “should” as in “ought to”. In any event, the following is a very interesting read –

Please feel free to point out my grammer and usage errors (really), but please don’t make fun of my spelling.

I often ride after work in a park that has a playground and a ballfield. The kids in the playground are quite vocal in their fascination of seeing a unicyclist. But there is a ballfield adjacent to the playground. There is usually a game – along with many parent spectators. If I were to act silly and perform as I approached the playground – night after night – I would, as you say, be labelled as a silly show-off. So the key is to use non-repetetive, non-recurring, random acts of silliness – never being silly to the same person or in the same place twice. But that takes the fun out of it. (this is not sarcasm – I was sincerely analyzing how to safely be silly – considering time and repetition (silliness accumulation) – and surprisingly :), I ended up with an absurdity).

I recently discovered that I am a show-off (more so than I thought, but not a silly one). It used to bother me when I had an audience to watch my failed mounts and frequent UPDs. But now, I take extra pleasure in doing something skillful if someone is watching.

Dave (uni57)

Do I really never act silly here? :frowning:

When we ride our unicycles we are whatever we choose to be. Ambassador, nutter, mountain biker, clown, freestyler. We can even be different things to different people as we travel down the street. It is up to each of us to decide how we would like to present ourselves, and our sport.

We can also recommend to each other certain methods, things to do, things to say, etc. But it’s up to the individual, and perhaps even their mood at the time, to determine what they want to project at that moment.

I am not a unicycling specialist. I am a professional performer, freestyler, standard skiller, racer, bad hockey/basketball player, decent sumo player, mountain rider, trials rider, group ride organizer, road rider, teacher, showoff, collector, and ambassador. I respond to the public around me in different ways at different times, sometimes depending on my mood and other times depending on what I’m doing.

On the trails I sometimes enjoy making comebacks before approaching riders or hikers get a chance to say anything. You can often see them looking at you and you can almost hear the wheels turning in their heads. At times like these I’ll come out with something like:

“Don’t let this happen to you.”

“I should have paid for the other wheel.”

Or when stopped with a group, “Watch out for the bumps. When we started out, these were bikes!”

Other times I don’t feel like talking, and I’ll just ride. Of course I’ll respond to friendly questions or comments, but I don’t always feel the need to respond to a “Are you in the circus?” shouted from across the street.

I am a firm believer, however, that in the vast majority of times, the standard comments should be met with friendly replies. Even if they sound annoying, most commenters are trying to make conversation and usually not trying to be annoying. The ones that obviously are, you can ignore.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

No offence. I understood you to mean exactly that. I think you misunderstood me. I wasn’t pointing out a spelling error (I would seldom be so rude), nor was I suggesting there was an error of grammar or usage. In fact, I interpreted ‘should’ exactly as you intended: as meaning, ‘ought to’.

Should/ought to is a prescriptive expression in that it says that a person is under some sort of moral or social obligation to behave in a certain way, or it says that a certain state of affairs is the ‘correct one’. perhaps ‘judgmental’ is a better word than ‘prescriptive’.

You posted: <Unicycling should be considered a serious sport.>

I regard unicycling as quite a serious sport. I know it is a very serious sport for some riders. I know it has many characteristics which make it worthy to be considered a serious sport. However, much as my own inclination is to agree with your sentiment (that Unicycling should be considered a serious sport) I was simply pointing out that this is not a ‘necessary’ or ‘correct’ way of seeing the activity.

People who choose to see it as an absurd hobby, or ‘just a bit of fun’, or a performance art, have equally valid opinions, much as you and I might disagree with them.

So, clearly I’m the one at fault for taking what you said more literally than you intended; if so I plead in mitigation that I read too much for my own good, and look into things too deeply.

No offence. It was just me being pompous.:o


I’m always interested in language issues like this (as well as usage differences in other countries). No offense was taken at all. I was a bit confused by what you meant – and I was going to research it later tonight. So thanks for explaining “prescriptive.”

(and I meant to say “… as long as you don’t make fun of my spelling” – which you obviously weren’t. In other words, grammar and usage comments are good and interesting, but spelling comments, as you pointed out, are not.)


Dave (uni57)

I do not consider Unicycling to be a serious sport. Some people may take it seriously, but for me the only way it’s related to sport is that Unicycling is a fun means of transport. Today I was given the situation of being faced with a “looks like you lost something” comment from a pedestrian. I started thinking about replies and I did not think of anything decent. The guy probably thought I was ignoring him, but since I had started pedalling slowly while trying to think of a comeback, it gave him time to think of some better questions. It turns out he was curious and had made his first remark spontaneously, obviously not giving it much thought. His next questions were about why it has such a wide tire and if I have taken it up the mountain. Initially I thought of his comment as making fun of me, but his tone was not unfriendly and the subsequent questions reassured me that it was intended as some sort of ice-breaker rather than mockery. It was not triggered by “Wheres the other wheel” but the encounter definitely reminded me of this thread. Maybe when I hear comments that I think are mocking me I am just percieving them like that and the person saying them might intend it in a different way from how it comes across.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

I don’t think it’s a serious sport for me. I ride a hell of a lot and it seems pretty silly still. Just because it’s strenuous and skillful and requires a lot of training, doesn’t mean it isn’t silly.

Look at all the pictures in the galleries, don’t they look pretty silly?

Personally I’m glad it isn’t a serious sport, that would involve doing structured training and people taking lots of drugs to do well and grumpy faces and serious competitions and riding on flat racetracks just because you can get a better time etc, rather than going out for a nice long ride and seeing rabbits and deer and foxes and discovering a super new downhill and generally having fun for no other reason than because it’s fun.

Any time I see another unicyclist I’ll always shout “where’s your other wheel”, especially if I happen to be on one wheel at the time.


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”


I know what you mean and tend to agree, except I dislike the word ‘silly’ in this context. Silly is giggly girls and drunken aunts. I prefer ‘absurd’.

The middle paragraph is excellent stuff and I agree with every word.

The last comment: yes, but it’s an in joke. When I see my sister paddling her dragon boat, I sometimes shout ‘Where’s your other paddle?’ If she says, ‘Let’s see you do a wheelie,’ I say, ‘Let’s see you do an eskimo roll.’

Surprisingly, political correctness has not taken us as far as saying ‘Innuit roll’.

My friends when they see me are the most merciless of all the hecklers. I was heading up for a mountain ride and turned onto an uphill road just as a line of my mountain bike friends from school turned onto the same road. One of them said, in a sheepish child voice, "Hey mister, a wheel fell off your bike. I snapped back with, “Hey, the engine fell out of your motorcycle.” They were amused by this.

I definately agree that taking unicycling too seriously defeats the whole purpose. I do push myself, and when I fail I get pissed off and throw the uni and berate myself. I then always have to immediately laugh when I think of how silly it must look if someone were to see me pissed off at my inability to ride a unicycle down a skinny ridge of rocks. Around campus if I have a big trials wreck people are usually of the attitude like: “What did you think would happen, idiot.” When I am in the woods, I am a show off… for the deer, mostly. They are tough to impress. I bet they play on the suspended logs and teeter totters when we all leave.

Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

“uni57” <> wrote in message

> Three girls were walking down the sidewalk. As they started to pass by,
> one said “Where’s your other wheel?”
Unlike some of us here I tend never to pass negative comment to the “other
wheel” query. You and I may well have heard it many times before, but the
chances are that outside of a circus ring they have probably never seen a
unicyclist. As such it may be unoriginal comment to you, but to them its a
totally new comment, their very own, and at least they have taken the
trouble to think it up. It is an opportunity, should you wish it, to pass
a funny comment back, which may also not be original to you…but to them
it looks like a brilliant riposte to their unique comment. Or it is an
opportunity to engage in further conversation with them, again should you
wish it. Three girls, and three who did the opening chat up line for you!!
Don’t knock it until those who interact are obviously obnoxious or start to
throw stones.

Naomi :wink:

Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

“Mikefule” <> wrote in message
> Surprisingly, political correctness has not taken us as far as saying
> ‘Innuit roll’.

And please don’t ever let PC take over in that way. Political correctness
is one of the few things that is often more absurd than unicycling. It
would be laughable, were it not for the way it defeats its own cause, and in
passing sometimes contorts the English language in an agonising manner.

Naomi :wink:

Re: Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

Could someone please tell me what an “inuit roll” is, please?

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

Re: Re: Insight into “Where’s your other wheel?”

I disagree. Having never been a vending machine filler (whatever their title is) or a bank machine filler (same dilema) I refuse to believe that had I said, 'Gee mister, can I have some of that chocolate? (or money?) That they never heard this before. They’d look at me like eye wuz sofa king wee todd id, and I wouldn’t blame them (judging only from the comment, of course ;))

Oh, and I believe to be completely PC, as I like to be, the term is
‘Inuit thyroid problem’