Here is the article from the Times, at least the part I was able to snag from the NYT website. There were two photos: One of my brother from the waist down, seated on his Coker, and another of a club member riding a BC wheel. To my mild dismay, there will be no need for Sharpies: I’m not mentioned in the article despite having given the reporter two interviews to furnish most of his information and in spite of the fact that he profiles my brother and could simply have noted that I founded the club. The only thing I’m really bummed about, tho, is the prospect that someone from the Parks Dept. will read the article and decide that unicyclists shouldn’t be permitted at Grant’s Tomb.
JOHN STONE is a composer and an athlete in Manhattan, and he has never been in a circus. This last fact is an important but often misunderstood aspect of his life, but perhaps one of the drawbacks of commuting to work in Midtown from his home on the Upper West Side on a unicycle.
“It gets tiresome that people see me on my unicycle and they only think of that,” he said on a recent Sunday while holding a tall black unicycle with special features to accommodate long-distance rides. “Sometimes people will see me riding and start singing circus music at me.”
Mr. Stone, 37, was with others who understood his plight. Every other Sunday, unicyclists who call themselves the Unatics and say they are New York City’s only unicycle club, meet at Grant’s Tomb in Riverside Park to ride, learn new tricks and bond with others who share their love of balancing on top of one wheel. The club, which was founded in 2001, has more than a hundred members.
On this particular Sunday, about 30 unicyclists rode along the concrete entrance to Grant’s Tomb. Club members arranged metal barricades into three rows, so that beginners could find their balance with handholds.
James Sui, 14, impressed other riders by hopping down a set of four stairs at once and remaining upright. Ted Piltzecker, a jazz musician and professor, traced lazy circles while juggling three balls. And Shane Hope, an artist who lives in Brooklyn, glided by on what he called a BC wheel, which is essentially a unicycle without a seat or pedals.
For club members, these Sundays are one of the few chances to feel as if their hobby is a mainstream sport. “This is a friendly world,” Mr. Stone said, adding that riders often know one another’s names and share stories. He said that asking to borrow someone else’s unicycle was understood and encouraged.
But those who don’t ride unicycles also orbit this one-wheeled community. So, Mr. Stone said, unicyclists must sometimes curtail their space when tour groups descend on Grant’s Tomb, where it is generally frowned upon to ride on the monument.
Throughout the afternoon, two rangers from the National Park Service stood at the door to Grant’s Tomb and watched the Unatics. “I thought they were part of the circus the first time I saw them here,” said one ranger, who did not give his name because he said he was not allowed to speak with reporters. “I think they should go down to the trapeze school on the West Side and put a hat out and make a mint.”
Club members have often offered to teach the ranger how to ride a unicycle, he said, but to no avail. “I would break my head open,” he said.