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 conditioned! 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