It took me 46 years to get addicted

When I was 13 years old I had a friend who did a paper route on his unicycle. He had a bag of papers wrapped around his shoulder, he would fold the papers while riding up the sidewalk, toss the paper on the porch, then back out to the sidewalk and resume to the next house.

I was impressed and bought my first uni, a 24" Schwinn (Were there any other types of uni’s available for sale back in '68?). Schwinn was the only manufacturer I knew of, it was THE b*cycle mfg co. back then.

I learned to ride distances within a few weeks, I never learned to idle or ride backwards for some reason I wasn’t interested in doing that, but I did learn how to ride one footed. That was it, I rode a few miles at a time and one footed, “No big deal!”. I liked to uni but I didn’t love it.

The years came and went and usually I’d pull out the uni sometime in the summer and putze around for 15, 20 minutes and put it back in the garage.

About the Schwinn, I hated those little wedge bolts that supposedly held the crank arm to the axle, “Yea, right”. I remember tightening those bolts more than anything. Finally when they got to the point where they wouldn’t tighten anymore, I got out my welder and welded those suckers to the axle. “There take that”. Obviously, forget about doing maintenance on it or changing the tire. ; )

Eventually it was tossed.

Fast forward two decades later, I got out of failed marriage, and decided to get another one. I bought a Savage 24" (Anyone hear of those things?) I still have it. I rode that one around a bit a few times each summer, nothing serious, just messing around in the driveway and up and down the street.

Fast forward to the present, about two months ago I pulled out that Savage and got to thinking with all the effort the body goes through to stay upright this has to be good for your core. Plus I read a couple of articles online that confirmed what I thought.

Now why this is significant for me? I’m 59, about 25 lbs more than I should be (215 lbs 5’-10") and I’ve had two back surgeries, the second one I had L1-L4 fused ie. 8 screws in my lower back. My core is weak and not toned at all.

So back in March I started riding the Savage everyday and started reading this forum which led me to UDC. I never knew about this world of unicycling! Early April I ordered my first 20", the Nimbus Equinox which I simply love. I have finally learned how to idle and am now working on going backwards and the Side Mount.

I simply love that 20"er. The only problem is is that you can’t go very fast. So last Tuesday I put together my first 29", the Nimbus Road which I also love. It definitely has a different feel to it. I’ve ridden it everyday along with the 20" and have done a few 3-4 mile trips. I know that’s not much but my muscles are still sore and it’s going to take time before I can put more mileage on.

After riding seriously for two months now I can feel my core muscles actually being used and getting toned!! This is awesome plus there is not a day that goes by that I don’t ride. I take my 20" with me to work and practice during lunch. I’m starting to get a little stupid about the whole thing but I think you guys will understand. :astonished:

Anyways that’s my loooooooooonnnnnng story of unicycling.

Now I’m totally hooked.

Welcome to the forum, Kim. Your story has many familiar elements, many of our fellow forum members have similar unicycle histories.

I also have back issues (but never had any surgeries), and the more I ride the less I feel any back pain. (However, considering your particular issues, I would exercise caution when considering big drops.) I consider unicycling to be the ideal exercise! (for me, anyway)

I ride at lunchtime as well, it’s a great mid-day relief from the office. Plus, there are now two more unicycle riders from my company, thanks to having seem me ride and becoming curious. So keep it up, you will probably soon have riding companions!



Great story. Note that riding the unicycle is also good for your posture in general, and your lower back muscles. Take it easy, depending how far out you are after your surgery. My wife had L1-S5 fused a few years back. She doesn’t ride unicycles but is now a powerhouse on her recumbent. I can now barely hang onto her on rides (not counting the downhills).

Schwinn was probably the most visible brand in '68 in America. They had come out in 1967 (Christmas?) and were probably still being actively promoted at that time. You could also get Japanese ones that were pretty good as well, but probably not found in bike shops. You would have to know someone who knew about them, and where to order one.

You were definitely not the only one to weld your cottered cranks on! Even the great Floyd Crandall (from Pontiac, MI), initial holder of the Guinness 100m sprint record, did it on a beat up old Schwinn with welded, and bent cranks. He says he was used to riding it that way, so he could crank it down the track in 14.89 seconds.

Enjoy the great fun of unicycling!


I am astonished that you learned to ride one-footed as a kid, but did not idle or ride backward. I consider one-footed riding to be a more advanced skill, and have yet to learn it, except for a single rotation.

I also have the Equinox Street. Love it. After initially learning on a 24", I started learning a lot of technique on the 20" (mounts, riding backwards, two and one footed idling, side and forward jumps, etc.). Congratulations on finally learning to idle. I am guessing it was not that hard for you to learn.

I also have the 29" Nimbus Road Unicycle. I installed the Nimbus Shadow handle on it, I like it, and I have no plans to remove it. If you get the mUni bug, you might experiment with a different tire on the 29". I kept the Schwalbe Big Apple on mine, but it is used pretty exclusively for road riding. I have a 26" mUni for off-roading.

Not only is unicycling cool, but the types of riding and techniques are so numerous, we will never get bored with it. Glad to hear you’re expanding your repertoire of techniques. Keep us posted on your progress!

I enjoyed reading your story. Enjoy the ride!

Thanks for your comments and answers guys.

Lance, yes I am very aware of the fragile nature of my back, my last surgery was in 2010. That in part led me to the decision to get a 29" and not a 36". I’m glad I went with the 29 because my legs are feeling it and going 8 or so mph you really feel like you’re moving pretty fast I can’t imagine what it feels like to go as fast as you guys on your 36"ers, you must feel like your flying. It’s quite a different sensation than being on a bike no doubt. In short I’m taking it easy on the 29".

Right now have have good padded gloves and a helmet but I do need some elbow and knee pads. Anyone have some good recommendation? Thanks.

John, That’s a coincidence Floyd was from Pontiac, I was born and raised a few miles south of Pontiac in Royal Oak, MI.

Elpueblo, I don’t plan on doing any jumping or anything radical on my Equinox but sometimes I worry I’m too hard on it. Can you tell me what abuse you’ve given yours? I take it a jump mount wouldn’t be to tough for it would it.

I forgot to mention that I got happily remarried a few years after the first one. She’s fully supportive of my new craze!

Thanks for the wisdom, mental, and emotional support all!!

Thanks for sharing and congrats on your new unicycles! It sounds like the combination of a 29" for road riding and a 20" for skills is perfect for you. Have fun!

That’s great! No need to make any excuses for that. Keep doing it and you’ll keep getting better. As the others have said, you’ve got a good combo to work with there. It sounds you’re moving right along.

It’s great having another new old guy here. Best of luck!

Yeah, that’s exactly the combo I have. Recently, though, I’ve discovered that the 29 can also be helpful for learning skills. It adds a whole lot of extra resistance that will make your 20 feel really light and easy. That’s what happened to my rolling sidehop, anyway: I “discovered” it on a 20, then practiced it on a 29, then went back to the 20. Now I can hop up onto a curb without having to stop first.

I have not had any problems with my Equinox Street, except for creakiness, perhaps in the hub. Most importantly, I would make sure to have handy a set of hex wrenches and a pedal wrench. Check the tightening of everything before, or when you’re done with, riding. My experience with my new unicycles, or with any new parts, in general, is that they needed tightening after having unprecedented forces placed on them. At the beginning, that might be a little bit of force, later on, more force. It is not uncommon for one or the other of my mUni pedals to take a smidge of tightening, for example. As the seat is exposed to tugging and drops, the seat bolts will need tightening. So, I think your worry should not be whether or not the Equinox is strong enough, but rather if it is tightened adequately.

My jumps and drops are limited to a foot or less. Search the forums…there was a discussion about what kind of forces an Equinox Street could take…apparently, four foot drops are all right, so long as you roll out of them. The real concern, however, is whether or not you or I will be all right after a four foot drop. I imagine the frame is not immune from a freak accident, such as accidentally stomping on the unicycle when it is sideways on the ground. Hasn’t happened to me, yet. I have practiced jump mounts on it, and it’s held up nicely. I weight ~ 200 lbs.

Tight is right!

What surprised me most by this forum is how many older guys (gals?) are out there riding around. I’m impressed by the number of guys in their 50’s & 60’s. The uniGeezer’s not the only Geezer.

I got the Kris Holm Percussion Leg Armor for doing trials/muni, and I’m very satisfied with them. Some people on the board have said they’re a little bulky and awkward, but once you get them tightened just right, they’re not so bad. I usually wear “racing” cycling shorts (the really tight ones), but if you wear baggy shorts/pants, I could see how they might interfere, since the Leg Armor does go pretty far up. Another upside is that you get shin pads and knee pads in one package, and don’t have to buy them separately. :slight_smile:

I’m still in the market for elbow pads myself. I’ve seen POC and sixsixone pads praised in other topics as well, so I’d look into those as a start.

Glad you’re back into riding. :slight_smile: Have fun.

He’s a youngster!

same story here. learned as a kid, took one to college, put it down and didn’t pick it back up until kids were old enough for push bikes. now i’ve taught both them and we ride all the time. you can teach kids to do anything. and, even if they don’t take to it right away, they will ALWAYS posses the skill to pretty much just hop up and ride decades later.

POC VPD (soft compound hardens on contact) DH (now with skit plates) long knee pads are excellent for MUni and touring on your 29er. KH Persussion leg armor provides superior back-of-the-leg coverage for trials.

Welcome to the forum!

Great story, im glad you up and ready again :slight_smile: