Just in case the link to the article goes dead in time here it is:
Thursday, September 30, 2004
This guy is a really big wheel
Bill Hamilton is head and shoulders above everyone and everything when he is methodically pedaling his way along back country roads.
There is a fundamental difference between the 48-year-old Hickory area man and your typical 10-speed tourers who ride the same hard roads. They do it the easy way. Easy, that is, if your idea of easy is going up and down the rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania on anything that isn’t somehow motorized.
Hamilton does roadwork the hard way. He does his riding on a unicycle.
Yes, a unicycle, that one-wheel conveyance that only circus performers, or the fabulous Zucchini Brothers’ juggling act that was always an audience favorite on the old Ed Sullivan Show, were able to master. (Personally, in addition to unicyclists, I also liked that Gypsy guy whose whole act was keeping dozens of dinner plates spinning on bamboo sticks while the house played the “Sabre Dance.” Don’t take just my word for it, folks, but that was real entertainment.)
Hamilton, a quality assurance manager at Bolsan-Hampsom Co., a small aerospace supplier in Eighty Four, learned to ride a one-wheeler as a teenager growing up in Zelienople. He took it up again only a year ago in July when he decided that he wanted to learn to juggle. Heck, since he pretty much taught himself how to ride a unicycle, he taught himself juggling with the intent to juggle while riding a unicycle.
“That was pretty much it for me,” said Hamilton, who lives along Route 18 near Red Fox Road with his wife, Patty, who does not ride a unicycle, and their 7-year-old unicycle-riding daughter Caitlin. She rides a small 20-inch model; his road-going Coker unicycle has a 36-inch wheel. He has two others – a 20-inch mountain unicycle and a 24-incher for tricks.
“I borrowed a unicycle from a nephew, and the next thing I knew, I was hooked on it again. This is great fun and a great way to get in shape and stay in shape,” said the 6-foot-tall, 178-pounder.
The Sunday after the great floods of Ivan, Hamilton had ridden his unicycle 4 miles up and down the hills in the vicinity of Hickory on what would become a 12-mile ride. His average speed up to the point where we talked at the entrance to Mt. Pleasant Township Park was 8 mph.
“I know it looks hard to do, but it really isn’t,” he said. “I can teach somebody how to ride a unicycle in 10 to 15 hours.”
Hamilton is going to start giving unicycle lessons one night a week at Thomas Presbyterian Church in North Strabane Township beginning Oct. 12 through Thanksgiving. For more information, call him at 724-229-7141.
He and Caitlin, along with an old friend from Zelienople and his son, plus a unicycle enthusiast from Mt. Lebanon, will all ride next weekend in the parade for the Houston Pumpkin Festival.
So, what makes somebody want to ride one of those things?
“I don’t mind the attention I get when I’m riding,” he said. "But what I really like is to see the reaction on the face of the people who see me riding.
“My goal is to start a unicycle club. Riding one of these is so much fun that I want to share the experience with others.”
Senior writer and columnist Byron Smialek can be reached at bsmialek at observer-reporter dot com.