Introduction - James Blackmore

Hi there,

I’m James Blackmore, I’ve been unicycling for about 18 months now (more off than
on). I work in the South of England as a Software Engineer, and started
unicycling whilst still at University.

Having had a deprived childhood (ie no juggling), I took up juggling, balls
then clubs then torches all very quickly, and then got bored, the thought of
Unicycling appealed so I found a place to buy one (More Balls Than Most in
the UK) and ordered one by post. Its a Pashley (spelling?) 20" with a red 36
spoke wheel.

It originally had a red BMX style tyre which looked very smart (for about
a week !).

I taught myself, not knowing anyone else who did it (as I had with juggling), so
started by leaning against a wall (a tip I read in a how to ride a unicycle
leaflet), then pedaling away from the wall and falling off ! I mastered this
latter skill quite quickly, and it became the hall mark of my uni-cycling
ability for some time !

I gradually increased the time interval between pushing off the wall and lying
on the ground crying over about 4 days, till the point that I could sense when I
was losing it and land on my feet, which with one exception I have managed ever
since. (The exception was when I banged my knee and elbow on the road quite
hard, and borrowed my sisters knee and elbow pads for a few weeks, I didn’t fall
off again though, so stopped wearing these !).

Distance seemed to be a good goal for me, as it was measurable, so I started
seeing how far I could go, first between one lamp post and the next in the road
I live in (its very quiet, a one way street with hardly any traffic), then later
the length of the road, then turning round at one end and cycling back
(illegally). All this time I was going straight, I found turning very difficult,
and idling next to impossible.

I progressed to riding round the “block” this was problematic as whenever I met
with pedestrians, I would have to fall off ! So I took to riding in the evening
(summer nights), when they’re were not many people about.

By this time I had worn right through the red rubber of the tyre at two opposite
points on the wheel, when I thought about it I realised that all my turning was
done at the middle position of the pedals when I would twist my upper body to
turn. In order to get every last mile of use out of my still a little bit
attractive red tyre I rotated it on the rim, a process which I then repeated a
few more times until no red remained (on the outside face).

Having exhausted the block (which is not far off half a mile and about 8 or nine
minutes of unicycling), I decided to go further afield, as distance was tricky
to calculate I took to timing myself. Each day I would try to ride for longer
until my best ever was over 38 minutes without putting a foot down. Even more
remarkable was that at this point I could still not idle, so whenever I got to a
road junction and was forced to cross, I just had to hope nothing was coming,
otherwise I would have to stop and put my feet down !

It was about this time I discovered what you all guys already know, which is
that if you rest on the saddle too firmly the blood supply to certain appendages
is cut off, giving a numb feeling which can only be described as “un-settling”,
I took to standing on the pedals for a while every few minutes to relieve this
problem, which worked successfully.

I then decided to master idling, which took me about a week of odd evenings.

By this time the previously smart looking red tyre had dissappeared completely !
So I decided to replace it, having visited a local bike shop I found a black
tyre that looked very hardwearing, and ordered one in the size, having put this
on I have since done a lot of miles and the tyre still has no noticeable wear on
it, I haven’t even rotated it yet !

I’ve been very pleased with the Pashley unicycle, it has cottered cranks which I
am careful to check for tightness frequently (along with the pedals !), I have
also added a quick release saddle bolt (bought from a mountain bike shop), to
allow quick height changes ! The cycle still looks smart (not too scratched),
and has done me well.

Thats all I can do really. I can still only idle right foot down, I have tried
left foot down but cannot manage more than about 3 rocks ! I need to spend more
time on this!

Also I have a lot of trouble going backwards ! Although I have managed it a
few times !

My favourite trick is going down kerbs (full height), and going up kerbs (where
they drop to [nearly] road level) I find that a moments accelerateion at the
right point does wonders !

My aim was originally to juggle torches on the unicycle, but seeing as I can not
even manage to juggle balls on it (and I have persevered for some time) I have
recognised that this is unlikely to ever happen !

I would quite like to get a 5 or 6 footer at some stage, I think that’d be a
really nice thing to have, its just the money really. Upwards of 250 UKP ! But
I’ll get one soon I’ve promised myself !

Anyway, hope this wasn’t too long, I look forward to reading good things on this
list ! I’d be especially interested in any uni-hockey clubs round the
Bournemouth Area in Dorset (unlikely I guess), I have a stick and have had a go,
but could do with a lot more practice ! If I knew of a club, I’d find it much
easier to motivate myself to practice !


                                  / \

| James Blackmore BSc (Hons) Email: | Software
| Engineer Tel: +44 202 893535 ext 304 | Schlumberger Automatic Test Equipment,
| Board Systems, Ferndown UK |