News from the USA 1998 NUC: Day 2

This report covers the second day of the Unicycling Society of America’s
1998 National Unicycle Convention, in Monrovia, California.

    This was another day of hot unicycling. The National Weather Service
    reports that the high today was 103 F in Monrovia. It's cool at night,
    67 F, and it's dry, so it's not so bad as some places I could name, but
    it's still rather difficult. I faced a constant battle to keep drinking
    enough fluids, even though I didn't do anything more strenuous than
    take pictures.

    There was no air conditioning in the basketball gym of the YMCA, where
    most of the day's competition was held. There are some big fans, but
    they weren't enough. The south side of the gym was distinctly warmer
    than the north side.

    The total number of registrants is "pushing 250", I was told. There are
    representatives from 13 US states, but no one from outside the US. I
    think I was told that there are about 40 people from Michigan alone.

    In answer to the question I posed yesterday, "What if you don't have a
    car?", yes, there's a public bus line that runs right by the YMCA, but
    more importantly, the Holiday Inn provides a shuttle service to members
    of the convention that are staying there. Speaking of the Holiday Inn,
    though, I was told that it's sold out!

    The day's activities started out with a very nice opening ceremony. I
    arrived about 10 minutes late, so I missed a little of it, particularly
    since it was difficult to find a place stand in the audience area in the
    gym. The acoustics were a problem, too, I'm afraid, so I couldn't really
    tell what was said. The Mayor of Monrovia was there to start us off; I
    understood that much.

    In our registration packets there were little pieces of paper with name
    of the registrant's state on them, and other information about their
    state. It turns out that there were part of the the opening ceremony:
    each state was given a different color of paper, and we were supposed to
    wave them around and cheer our home state. Let's see, what would be the
    appropriage California cheer: "Rah, dude!"?

    The morning was devoted to the Standard Spills, er, Skills competition.
    What can I say about this event? I have not yet accepted it into my
    heart, even though I recognize that resistance is futile. We are the
    Standard Skills. You will be assimilated.

    By the way, only non-marking tires are allowed on the YMCA gym floor.
    Did I mention that the gym isn't air conditioned? Anyway, Jennie White
    told me that Miyata black tires are actually non-marking, according to
    Tom Miller, so my unicycle is OK. I do have a white non-marking tire for
    my 24" unicycle at home, and was planning to install it, but I'm glad
    that it won't be necessary to do so.

    There's a current thread on this mailing list asking where to
    getnom-marking tires. I gor mine from the bicycle supplies section of
    Target, a large discount department store chain.

    Also during the morning, Brett Bymaster led 7 riders on a small MUni
    trip. I believe he took them to the park where Tuesday's competition
    MUni will be held.

    Eventually the Standard Skills competition drew to a close. The last,
    highest-level competitors were interesting to watch, due in part to the
    difficulty of the skills that they were attempting, but also, I think,
    due to the fact that everything looks more graceful once you are skilled
    enough at it. Meanwhile, I finished my 1998 CA Muni photoalbums and
    started passing them around.

    A half-hour lunch break was declared. I chose to go to the Tommy's
    Hamburgers that had recently (March 1997) opened a few blocks south of
    the Y. Tommy's, for those of you who haven't lived in Los Angeles, is a
    local chain that's famous for: 1) the gang battles at the Original
    Tommy's home location on Rampart, and 2) a particularly greasy chili
    that they dump to their food. I chose a chili tamale, my favorite.

    The afternoon featured the group and club artistic competitions. The
    real hit of the day was the TCUC club production, Hunchback. Well, I
    don't know that they call it exactly that, but that's what it was. It
    featured very good costuming and makeup, and, of course, fine
    choreography and riding.

    As usual, there was quite a bit of variety in the group and club
    competitions. Of particular interest was the group from Seattle,
    Washington (mo or less, I think). They are new to NUCs, I think, but
    clearly not new to performing on unicycles. There's a rumor that they
    might bid on next year's NUC.

    The afternoon's competitions ended around 1530, about 2 hours ahead of
    schedule, I think. I headed over to Monrovia High School, where
    preparations for the evening's show were being made and where show
    participants (not I!) were allowed to practice. Hurray! It's air

    The 1998 NUC public show started with the Jr. Expert and Expert Pairs
    Artistic competition. This is the first ever time that these events were
    incorporated into the show. I was one of the judges, sitting in the
    balcony seats, and consequenty don't take in the way of photographs
    during the evening.

    Someday I'd *love* to have a judging session, followed immediately by a
    videotape instant-replay Judges Workshop.

    These competitions were followed by an awards ceremony, also presented
    as part of the public show. Dedra Devine and Ahley Wood won the Jr.
    Experts Pairs category. Dana Schneider and Andy Cotter took the Expert
    Pairs prize with their excellend Riverdance-based routine. Irene Genelin
    and Michael Ownes were the only other Jr. Expert Pairs competitors. The
    team of Lindsey Johnson and Colin Schworer took second place in Expert
    Pairs, and Dillon Devine and Preston Ulmer took third.

    John Foss, our evening's host, presented a multimedia (PowerPoint)
    projection TV presentation of unicycling photos taken by himself and
    others. It was not fully visible where I sat in the balcony, but was
    entertaining and instructive nonetheless.

    Speaking of entertaining, John gave us his "how to ride a unicycle" and
    "how to ride a small unicycle" routines. Very funny!

    "Men in Black", a group performance by some of the young UTM riders,
    came next. They did a pretty good job, too. If you haven't seen the
    movie, then you probably won't understand the significance of the camera
    flash at the end of the routine. What routine? :-)

    Dr. Orlon Reynolds presented his rope and diablo skills. At 76 years of
        age, Dr. Reynolds was the oldest entertainer in the show, and might
        well be the oldest rider at the meet.

    The juggling act, "The Incredible Cohens", was canceled due to a mixup,
    'nuf said.

    John Foss pitched Dusten Kelm's line of apparel. Yes, you, too, can own
    a Disten Kelm T-shirt. If you were here at the NUC, you could own it
    today. Dusten, himself, was pretty good, too. His first routine was a
    romantic courtship number with a random (?) audience member as the
    target. His second routine was his usual stylish solo presentation. He
    did very well, too, and if he can just iron out the bugs in his giraffe
    side ride (?), he stands a good chance in the individual artistic
    freestyle competition on Sunday.

    Terese and Sem closed out the evening with their usual polished,
    graceful, well-timed, athletic, thrilling performance. What a treat!
    Words fail me (quick, where's my thesaurus?).

    That wraps up the day. Some of us gathered at the local Souplantation
    (an all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar chain) for a bite to eat and a
    bit of socialization.

    Did I mention how it's gonna be in that gym tomorrow?

                                    Craig Milo Rogers