Some people want your unicycle

In another thread someone asked the question “…honestly who would try to steal an unicycle?” John Foss answered correctly, “A thief”.

Recently I was half way to being mugged for my ride while I was sitting in a central city square in my home town having lunch and reading.

I could spot the two guys vectoring in on me from miles away. Sure enough, they sloped up next to me full of fake smiles and, “Wow! that’s cool; You’re amazing to be able to ride that etc”. Then, from one of them it was, “Can I have a go on it?” I didn’t come down in the last shower and it was obvious his request was bogus. Non confrontationally, I replied I was busy eating and reading so the answer was, “No”.

Suddenly the guy’s face changed. As his double act buddy leaned in closer, he said, “OK then what if I just take it?”

With my foot on my wheel I looked him square in the eye and said, “Well, then we’re all going to have a fight…”

News was good, after our eyes were locked for a time he flinched. That said, he still tried to be half-arsed menacing. Before he and his mate slithered away he delivered the most inane comment possible: “Aww, nah. I don’t want the fckin thing anyway. Those things are for fckin homos.”

Its not pleasant to have to face someone down like that but at least its effective most of the time in life. But I tell you this, it really pissed me off and has altered my experience of riding around the central city. It sowed the seed in the back of my mind that a repeat is always a sorry possibility.

Not a positive post, but I find unicycling to be a pure deal where part of the world drops away when riding. This incident was a simple reminder that the world aint always as pretty as one might like it with such reminders always just around the corner…

Be interesting to know how common this sort of incident is for fellow riders. Hopefully it’s not.

It surprises me when total strangers ask to ride my uni. I’ve had it happen three times, once not far from home and twice at Coney Island. I said no all three times. The first time it happened near my house the guy said he wanted to teach me how to free mount. When I said no he almost grabbed it out of my hands but then suddenly backed off. At Coney Island three women approached me with beers in their hands and asked if I could loan it to them for five minutes to see if their friend could ride it. I said, “No, it takes longer than five minutes to learn.” The third time it happened I shook my head and walked away.

I wouldn’t fight over it if it meant I would get hurt.

Glad you got away unscathed.

Depending on your wheel size, unless the would-be thief can ride (and ride well enough to escape my adrenaline-filled sprint), I doubt anyone could steal a unicycle from under your nose anyway - my 29er is big, heavy and awkwardly-shaped, as well as having painfully spiky pedals. If someone tried running off with that, chances are they’d trip over well before I had a chance to push them over :smiley:

But yeah, I agree with your post completely. Be on your guard and don’t let your precious wheel out of your sight!

Vertigo - most people probably wouldn’t hurt you over it, chances are they’re just kids trying to act big and cool, and the second you let them know you’re not having any of it they’ll probably back off. I kind of imagine a ‘real’ thief would wait for the uni to be locked up or otherwise not within your sight/attention. Maybe I’m wrong though… :frowning:

Enjoyed your uni-Western, Kiwi Earl – and well done!

Not at all for me, I’m happy to report. And that’s with plenty of riding around various parts of Detroit and New York City.

I used to let people try my uni all the time, but I was generally too tall for them. Once I had a unicycle with a relatively indestructible seat and pedals, I didn’t mind letting people try. It’s easier to let them try to fit than trying to explain to them that they’re clearly not tall enough to reach my pedals.

Sounds like the guy you ran into probably just wanted to give it a go, at least at first. All sorts of interesting people like to try a unicycle from time to time; you never know who. Then he turned into a dick when you said no. Okay, he was already a dick but then he showed it. Then of course he bravely reversed course on all the stuff he had previously said, when you told him he wouldn’t be allowed to play with your toy. Back to your own sandbox, dick.

I’ve never had someone try to run off with my uni after asking to try it, but if they did, I feel I could catch them as long as they were still holding onto it.

I haven’t had someone try to steal my uni, but I did, against my better judgement, decide to ride through a few guys just hanging around next to the sidewalk. After one of them suggested that it must take a bit of ballance, another guy pushed my off the unicycle. I got back on and continued riding. A little further down the sidewalk, however, I saw a rock go skittering by right next to me. That was back when I just had a 20" and didn’t really go fast enough to justify riding in the bike lane.

By that same house, however, my brother has had a rock almost hit him while riding past in the road on one of his bicycles.

You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?

Good phrase which I heard in a tv show recently and could be applied here if you want to refuse somene to try your unicycle ‘western hollywood movie style’ (of course you have to sound cool whilst saying it otherwise they will laugh at you :D):

‘If you want to run away and join the Circus make sure the Circus wants you. This is my Circus and I don’t want you.’

Some people are criminals by nature, their actions not rational to the rest of us. Luckily they are in the miniscule minority.

In college I worked as a Resident Advisor in the dorms and bikes were routinely stolen. Once the police realized it was one guy and his friends I observed him from a distance when I could. The guy was a natural criminal: charming, slick and always looking for opportunities. Every morning he would smile at some girl in the cafeteria line and charm her into letting him cut in line. It was a little thing but indicative of his nature and bloody annoying to the rest of us. Eventually the police had enough evidence to search his house and found the place full of stolen merchandise, electronics, etc.

No incidents, but one day on a rail trail, one guy asked to try. My husband gave him his and said give it a go. He freemounted and rode about 20 feet, got off and said “hey, I can still do it.” He had one as a kid.

People who ask to try riding are so rare that I normally say yes, though much more readily if I am on my 20. One guy who asked to ride my 29 even gave me his wallet as collateral, but I didn’t keep it long, as he fell off almost immediately.

I have only had two people ask.

The first time I was still only doing tens of metres along the footpath near home. A young woman walked by and asked if I would let her take a little footage for her film clip which of course I did.

Then the guy with her asked if he could have a go and said he had learnt to ride one a couple of years ago. He was quite good but out of practice and just did a few metres around us.

The next one was just after I got the 24. He sat on it holding a rail and decided “discretion was the better part of valor”. With the 24, most people are shocked at the height of the seat so don’t tend to be interested.

Once I’ve met in center of Moscow (near Groky Park) tourist from Germany. That man had very strong skills to ride unicycle: he did some tricks on my street 24".

Once I rode past a group of youths one guy said “Oh stop, I want to try this.” First I ignored the laughing group. Then he shouted again that i should stop and let him try. So I instantly stopped, held my Muni in front of hin and said to him “ok, give it a go…”. He was totally perplex that I really stopped and began to babble defensively sth like he would break his bones trying this …
So I rode away and his friends laughed over him …

Yeah, that’s happened more than once with groups of teenagers: One demands a ride, so I try to hand him my uni and he backs away as if afraid to even touch it.

Others will put a foot on one pedal and then get scared, and others, if they have supportive friends, will get one on each side to help them wobble.

I once had a teenager that wanted to try. I told him it would most likely be too high for him but I let him try a bit. He knew how to ride but I drew the line when he asked if he could lower the seat…

Would seem like my nasty experience is relatively rare, thank goodness.

Now that’s a civil interaction :slight_smile:

I guess I’m at the other end of the range here. In the year and a few months I’ve been unicycling, I’ve given probably ten or twelve impromptu lessons to strangers who asked to try my unicycle and never turned anyone down. If I’m taking a muni or road unicycle somewhere away from home, I’ll also put a 20" in the trunk to make it easier for someone who wants to try just in case. Along with the pedal wrench and tire pump, I always bring a wrench for the seat clamp for myself, and I’ve never minded changing the saddle height for someone else.

So far they’ve all laughed and had fun, no one’s taken a hard fall or gotten hurt, and most have given it a fair effort. All have thanked me and commented that even sitting on it was harder than they expected. I warn them beforehand than no one ever rides one the first time and tell them afterward that they did better than I did on my first day, which is nearly always true. No one has tried to steal one of my unicycles, and anyone who did would be dismayed and chagrined to learn how little value they got for their trouble.

I tend to revisit those places and I figure that building goodwill and acting as something of an ambassador for the sport might be a good thing to do, if only to make it clear that I don’t feel superior just because I’m sitting up a little higher, and I’m not doing it just to make them look bad as people sometimes want to think about strangers doing unusual things. I can’t say whether or not anyone has gone on to get a unicycle and learned to ride, but it would be nice to have another unicycle rider or two in town so I hope some day someone does.

Yeah, I’ve given dozens of long unicycle lessons to people who approach me in the park in an area conducive to loitering, though some of these people are already acquaintances, students of mine or even old friends, so maybe they don’t count! When people approach me on a random street corner, though, I usually just give them one or two chances to prove that they can or can’t ride, and then I continue on my way.

I definitely am less concerned about letting people ride my 20 than my 29, though. My 29 has spiked pedals and puts you much higher up, meaning that both novice rider and unicycle hit the ground a lot harder. I also tend not to ride it in my little park hangout, but instead take journeys of 10 or 20 miles where I seldom stop to talk.