reply-uni challenge

Name : Dennis Kathrens Age : 38 Location : LeRoy Kansas (out in the boonies, 70
miles south of Topeka) Occupation: Instrumentation and Process Controls
Technician Hobbies : read science fiction, repair just about anything,
bicycling, unicycling.

Favorite sayings :

 Reality is a Crutch for Minds that can't handle Science Fiction. Man who
 Wear Shoe Think Earth Covered with Leather. Think for Yourself and Question
 Assumptions The Higher, The Fewer Nuke a Gay Whale for Jesus

 I am tall and skinny and was never considered athletic, more the bookworm
 type in school. When I turned 30 (gasp! I'm old now!) I decided I should
 take up some program of exercise. After trying and rejecting weight
 training (a waste of time for ectomorphic individuals like me) and running
 (boring and painful), I got a recumbent bicycle and started commuting to
 work on it. I have come pretty close to my original goal of 100 miles per
 week, riding about 5000 miles per year for the last four years. I also tour
 and run errands with it. It's my "other car".

 One thing about recumbent bicycles is that your upper body is supported by
 the seat and doesn't benefit much. I suffered from Doogie Schwarzenegger
 Syndrome--very muscular from the waist down, like a 16 year old kid from
 the waist up.

 It came to mind last fall that riding a unicycle would be what I needed to
 balance this out. No upper body support whatsoever, using the upper body
 for balance and directional control. Tones arms, shoulders, back and
 abdominal muscles. And it sounded like fun!

 I searched high and low for an inexpensive used unicycle--let's see if I
 can even do this before I spend big bucks on a new one. After scouring the
 local area without success, I went to Michigan for a short-term job, and my
 searches there were just as fruitless. I broke down and bought a 24"
 Matthews through a mail order company. The very next day I called to talk
 to my wife and she told me "You'll never guess what I saw at Wednesday
 auction--a unicycle. It sold for $5!" Sigh.

 My unicycle arrived a week later and I assembled it myself, frantic to
 get outside and start learning. This is the hardest thing I have ever
 tried to do, and during the first two hours of practice I was afraid that
 I had bitten off more than I could chew. But I concentrated on learning
 little bits of the process and putting them together. Inside a week,
 practicing about 30 minutes per day, I was able to ride 50 feet, turn
 around and come back.

 After two weeks of practicing, I rode my unicycle to work, 4.5 miles away.
 I hadn't learned a free mount yet and I thought I could get away with
 carrying just one stick. Half a mile from the house I fell off and found I
 couldn't get back on with just one stick. No curbs, no mailboxes, no parked
 cars to hang onto. The road I took bordered a woods so each time I fell
 off, I had to walk across the ditch and find a dead branch to use as the
 second stick. I would get going and then throw it away. The last mile was a
 private road to the power plant where I was working, and I dared not fall
 since there were no trees on that road. It only took me four remounts and
 an hour and ten minutes of pedaling to get to work. Only three remounts and
 one hour to get back home after work. I found and used many of the same
 sticks I had discarded previously .

 At the morning meeting, one of my coworkers who arrived late asked "Is that
 your unicycle in the bike rack?" I said yes. Someone else said "Just how do
 you park a unicycle in a bicycle rack?" With a straight face I answered:
 "Same as a bicycle--you poke the wheel into a slot and put down the
 kickstand." Then I sat back and watched his brain overload trying to
 process this datum.

 There's a new simile to add to your lexicon: Useless as a kickstand on a
 unicycle. :^)

      After about 3 weeks I learned to hop on from behind and get
  going. First by starting with the wheel backed against a curb, then
  against a block of wood and !finally! against nothing at all. It was
  at this point that I felt I could start calling myself a unicyclist.

 Since then I have learned several tricks, thanks especially to the
 videotape IUF Skill Levels. I haven't been qualified by an official
 examinator, but I am somewhere between level 4 and 5 now. I hope to go all
 the way to level 10 eventually. I look forward to meeting uncyclists in
 other areas of the country. I travel all over the US for contract work
 lasting 3 months or more, so I have time to really get to know an area and
 meet interesting people.

 I have a lot of fun riding around town and learning new tricks. I have
 ridden in several local parades this summer to the amazement of my friends
 and neighbors.

 My nephew from Ohio came to visit last week. He noticed my unicycle and
 wanted to see me ride it. I showed him what I could do and then let him
 watch the IUF Skill Levels tape. He asked why people spent so much time
 learning such difficult tricks. I replied "What about skateboarders and
 freestyle bikers? They do tricks that look downright impossible. I'll bet
 it took a long time to learn them." He thought about this for a moment and
 said "Yeah, but THOSE tricks are COOL." My wife took all this in and
 started laughing, so I retorted "Oh yeah? Well I was uncool when uncool
 wasn't cool!"

( For those not into Country & Western music, this is a take off on a
popular song, "I was Country when Country wasn't Cool" by Barbara
Mandrell. )

That’s all for now…