News from the USA 1998 NUC: Day 5 (final)

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

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    When I arrived at the track at 0829, the air was still a touch cool
    left over from the overnight low. Thin clouds provided humidity,
    but no shade. By 1000 it was *hot*; later, a light breeze cooled us
    down a little.

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    I talked to Jim Hahn and Beirne Konarski about Monday's MUni ride.

    Monday, Brett and friends took the Echo Mtn. trail, 3500' elevation gain
    in 2.5 miles. They didn't make it all the way to the top; Bret rode up
    the trail, while Jim and Beirne walked up (about 2 miles, leaving the
    final .5 mile unexplored). This was high enough to see a (hazy) outline
    of downtown Los Angeles.

    It was a lovely trail, I was told. The first half is in excellent
    condition; steep but not technical, it has benefitted from recent trail
    maintenance. The second half is well defined, but not very solid. It's
    crumbling away, which is why there's ongoing trail work.

    The trail work is being protested by a group that wants to reserve
    the trail for hikers only. Jim had some political action matrials on
    this issue.

    Brett encountered a hiker that told Brett some of the history of the
    railroad they passed. This is part of the Scenic Mount Lowe Railroad,
    which was part of a hiking and entertainment development of the early
    1900s. It is well described in Robin's guide to hiking the San Gabriel
    mountains. One online site with lots of information is:

http://www.aaaim.com/echo/v3n1/index.htm

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    Returning to Tuesday's events, two activities proceeded in parallel at
    Arcadia High School in the morning. The track saw the 800 m and 1600 m
    races, while a nearby outdoor basketball court area had the obstacle
    course and slow boards.

    The 800 m and 1600 m races ran pretty smoothly. There was one bit of
    excitement in my race when the tire blew out on one of the racer's
    unicycles (I think it was Ken Fuchs). The participant completed the race
    on an alternate unicycle, so far as I have been able to determine.

        Cathy Wrobel, age 30-39 (I didn't pry for anything more
  exact), after completing her first mile race: "It's not even dark!"

    On the obstacle and slow area, we had a problem with summer school
    students cutting across our course! We laid out some cones and various
    odds and ends (plastic pipe, metal pipe) to try to ward them off.

    Another problem was the lack of a practive setup.

    I saw a very touching tableau on the slow backwards board, which is also
    used as the kids' slow forward board. Our youngest competitor, Bridgette
    Bibler, age 4, was assisted onto her unicycle by her mother at the
    starting end of the board, while her father stood at the far end. Then,
    "Come to daddy!", she was encouraged to ride the length of the board.
    She DQ'ed on her first attempt by leaving the board, but made it all the
    way on the second attempt. I wish I'd taken pictures!

    After the 800/1600 m races were over, and while the obsacle/slow races
    were finishing off, a height hopping competition was held on the track
    area. There were two height hopping setups. The first consists of a base
    and a couple of vertical posts. There were slots in the posts that may
    be used to insert supports for a horizantal crossbeam. In the other
    setup, little pieces of wood were stacked, like a kid's block set, and
    used to support a crossbeam.

    There were problems with both setups. The vertical posts seems
    threatening, and might be the source of an injury if a rider slipped
    while attempting the height hopping race. This setup was also holding
    the horizontal bar a little too firmly, as evidenced by the bar being
    snapped in two on one practice jump.

    The block setup suffered by requiring more intrinsic human setup time.
    It also had problems because the blocks weren't cut precisely enough.
    "When I was given wooden blocks to play with as a kid, I didn't know it
    was all leading up to this."

    The jumps themselves were generally, so far as I saw, performed by
    bouncing on the unicycle a few times next to the par, then squatting
    down and leaping upwards in one Mount-Saint-Helens-like release of
    pent-up energy (for those of you who don't know, that was a poetic
    reference to a volcano on the west coast of the nited States that blew
    up a few years ago.) The leaper (temporarily not, in my mind, a rider)
    arches up into the air, tucking their lega sn ddragging their unicycle
    up with them. If all goes well, the leaper will land on the ground on
    the other side, without disturbing the delicately balanced horizontal
    bar. The leaper will once more resume the role of rider, and will
    demonstrate control of their unicycle by, say, riding away.

    In order to facilitate the squat-and-leap phase, the riders I saw
    prefered to use a seat-in-front riding posture.

    I pbseved Dustin Kelm hop over the bar set at the following heights: 34
    cm, 38 cm, 44 cm, 48 cm, 50 cm. He failed 53 cm, and so did his nearest
    competitor.

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    Workshops were scheduled for the early afternoon. I don't recall
    anything about precisely *which* workshops were happening, and where
    they would be held. However, I did hear someone commenting on how
    helpful the level testing workshop had been. I suppose that the
    workshop(s) were held somewhere shady, while I foolishly continued to
    run around in the hot sun.

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    The next item on the agenda was the Muni race and workshop at Trask Boy
    Scout Ranch. Unfortunately, I received a page, called it back, and ended
    up leaving the meet to solve someone's computer crisis. By the time I
    had returned, I'd missed the Kids MUni Race and the MUni Race on the
    Mountain. I did, however, particupate in the Uphill Race and deerfly
    feeding festival.

    The Uphill Race started at the bottom of a hill, with a finish line at
    the top of the slope; this probably doesn't surprise you. Someone kindly
    pointed out to me the sandy area at the base of the slope, and indicated
    where to traverse to catch firm ground for the rest of the race. I
    didn't actually have any trouble with the sand, but I *did* have trouble
    riding up the rest of the slope.

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    Finally, it was time for the "Artistic Awards and Party", located at the
    Monrovia Community Center, near where a prior day's parade had ended.
    After several NUM/NUC experiences, I am now firmy against combining a
    unicycling awards ceremony with a buffet; 'nuff said.

    The age group awards were presented as follows: 1) Jenni called the
    riders for a particular age/sex group; 2) each person received an awards
    envelope, individual accomplishments were not acknowleged. 3) The group
    posed for photos and applause, then left the stage. The process was
    slowed a bit because the awards envelope were filed by name, not by
    age/sex group.

    Some medals were not ready in time, and will be mailed out later, Jenni
    said. My awards packets was missing a 5th place ribbin to which I was
    entitled. At the end of the evening, I added my name to a list of
    competitors and missing awards. I was told that nothing would happen
    until some undefined time after Andy Cotter, et al., return in mid
    August from theid UNICON IX trip.

    Jenni presented various championship awards (plaques). Here's a list of
    the first-place awards:

Standard Champions Dana Schneider Ryan Wood

Artistic Individual Freestyle Jr. Expert Ashley Wood Michael Owens Expert Dana
Schneider Dustin Kelm

Artistic Pairs Jr. Expert Dedra Divine and Ashley Wood Expert Dana Schneider and
Andy Cotter

Racing Champions Dana Schneider James Bernard

Artistic Group EJC (from TCUC)

Artistic Club TCUC

Artistic Parade TCUC

    Then, Jenni repeated the awards announcements, in a slightly different
    format that emphasized the fact that Dana Schneider walked away with all
    the top female awards.

    There was a brief speech by (and here I don't know his name, except that
    he said that his middle name is Telford), thanking Jenni White, John
    Foss, Andy Cotter, and Brett Bymaster for providing Mountain Unicycling
    events at this NUC. Part of the speech had the following theme,
    approximately: "I was a top bicyclist, I'd done it all, riddent across
    the country, etc., and I was bored with life, until I discovered
    Mountain Unicycling." Whet a powerful endorsement!

    Andy Cotter introduced the Championship Club, and why it was worthy to
    receive some of your hard-earned cash. He then presented T-shirts and
    certificates to the top 5 Jr Experts and Experts in each event. First
    place experts and Jr. Experts received special T's with their title
    embroidered on them.

    Andy then presented Best Time certicicates, for the best time overall in
    a race. (The best time can occur in an age/sex group race, rather than
    an Expert or Jr. Expert race. This, the person with the best time might
    not have received a "top 5" award.

    Andy is starting a new records database. I assume that it will be
    integrated with his other NUC support software, and that it will replace
    the records database maintained up till now by my brother, Bruce R.
    Rogers. Andy presented certificates for age group, convention, and world
    record achievements.

    The world records that were set at NUC '98 are:

Forward Slow Ashley Wood 34.28 Backwards Slow Colin Schworer 40.63 Juggling John
Foss 8.31 *** John said that this is not a *** new record after all. Dana
Schneider 10.15 One Foot Dana Schneider 8.93

    Jenni White received a recognition speech and flowers from here
    committee members.

    John Foss announced the following MUni awards. He said that actual
    awards will be mailed as necessary.

Uphill Race Ashley Wood (21.47) Kevin Gilbertson (14.09) and deerfly festival

Kids MUni Race Mark Mundrick

MUni Race on Mtn Dusten Kelm

    Andy Cotter announced that 1998 Racing Packets will be available for
    $5.00 each, while supplies last.

    Rick Hill, photographer, presented a slide show, with music, of his view
    of many of the highlights of the last several days. There were a lot of
    photos, most of very good quality. Why did I bother taking pictures? :-}

    We were told at the start of the Awards Ceremony athat we should watch
    (TV) Channel 11 at 2200. Many of us were still at the Awards ceremony at
    the time, though.

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    Well, that about covers the final day of the USA's 1998 NUC. There were
    many more groups present that I'd never seen before at an NUC, such as a
    Pomona Youth program group, but I didn't have time to interview them.

    I hope you enjoyed reading these messages, and I apologize for all
    the typos and inaccuracies. A corrected version will probably be
    posted on a Web site somewhere, and might, with editing, be published
    in On One Wheel.

                                    Craig Milo Rogers