Tallest giraffe ever freemounted?

Here’s a good question for John Foss. Who holds the record for tallest giraffe ever freemounted?

If anybody wants to bragg about their personal record, feel free.

Haha! John Foss is the first person I thought of when I read the title in RSU.

Well I have free mounted a 5 foot giraffe like everyone else has but I’m sure there have been some people that have free mounted a 7 foot giraffe. Try searching youtube there is these awesome buskers and they ride like 20 foot giraffes, its crazy so you mite find some mounts there too.

I have freemounted a 9-footer. This unicycle has an articulated step on the back, which presses down on the tire while you’re on it. I think I’ve heard of people freemounting up to around 10’ or so, but can’t point to a source for this.

The great Mel Hall (professional performer in the 1940s and later) used to freemount and hand-pedal a special 9-footer. Shoulder-rests held his shoulders and he rode it upside-down.

Freemounting a tall giraffe without some kind of aid to hold the wheel would be pretty difficult. I imagine it could be done by holding the pedals or cranks with your hand, but the switch from hand to foot would be interesting! Using articulated steps, or having the wheel in a notch in the ground or something, should make it possible to get up several steps if you get a good start.

I have a sequence of pictures of me freemounting the 9-footer but apparently not scanned. However I was able to dig up this old shot of Frank Kirk. I don’t know anything about him, but the unicycle looks like at least 9’. There’s not enough detail in the image to be able to tell if his step is mechanized or not…

Thanks John.

A 9 footer!?! Amazing… That must have been pretty intense practicing that! No wait…That must have been pretty intense every single time you did it.

That’s a great picture of Frank Kirk. I’ve started collecting pictures of great unicycling feats and that’s one more for the ole file.

By the way, I love your website. It’s the most entertaining unicycling site I’ve seen.

If you ever find the time to scan your pictures, I’d love to see them here.

Street Performer @ Qunicy Market Boston

There is a street performer (Adam I believe) in Boston (Quincy Market) who has a brother sister act from the UK who I’ve seen repeatedly freemount a 10ft giraffe. He mentioned it was over 100 hrs. of practice before he could repeat mounts twice. I thought I rode a uni pretty well til I saw what this guy could do. Ive also seen him pull off at least 10 consecutive pirouet spins on my KH29er. Stupid good :slight_smile:

Understand that the “I know this guy who” story is weak, but it’s just that, a story.

Do you know if the 10-footer they’re mounting has any special hardware for mounting? Even with the step, my 9-footer took lots of tries to get semi-consistent mounts. Nothing like 100 hours of course, but if you’re going to use it in shows you need to be polished.

Back when I used to ride the thing, I got to about 33% on the freemounts. My biggest giraffe freemount triumph was in the Puerto Rico Day Parade in Manhattan, around 1991 or so, when I had either fallen off or dismounted, but was left behind by the rest of the unicyclists, in a big gap in the parade. This is a humumgous parade, taking up to six hours to pass a given spot, with about a million people watching it (if you count all the people in it). And a long route as well! The streets are bumpy, but I was okay with the occasional dismount so I could show off the freemount. Only the freemount wasn’t consistent, and with the time pressure it gets harder. When I finally did get it, after at least three tries, I got the biggest ovation I’ve probably ever gotten in a parade. And it was all for me because the next unit hadn’t caught up yet! :slight_smile:

If that English group is freemounting without any special step or something, I can believe the tons of practice time to get it solid. A lot of that time is spent panting, thinking “Okay, here we go again.” Each attempt is like going up a flight of stairs, two at a time, then catching the stairs after falling off. Tall unicycles are heavy. Letting them fall on the ground is bad, as it can break pedals, bend cranks and seat posts, or knock the seat crooked.

I don’t know this guy, but here is Wolfgang StroBner freemounting a 9 1/2 footer.

Is this guy still around? I remember he had a bunch of web presence back when I first learned to ride in the waning days of the '90’s, but I haven’t really seen his name around very much recently. . .

And (just to keep on topic) I saw a guy in Quebec City freemount a 10 footer circa 2005. His clothes had a checkerboard stripe theme going on. I’m sure all my pictures are on paper, but I’ll try and dig some up.

Ah, thank you. I was trying to remember his name so I could find that exact series of pictures and post it here. His web site is gone but unicycling.org still has the pictures.

For Google searches use Wolfgang Strößner or Stroessner

It’s a DM giraffe, but it’s not clear if the step has any tire-stopping mechanism on it. My guess is no, but you can’t tell from the pictures. Also there’s a technical error in the sequence of photos. In 1, his right foot is on the tire, in 2, his right foot is on the step. On my giraffe, being right foot dominant, I’d have to start with my left foot on the tire.

In the pictures, it’s possible he’s jumping straight from the ground to the step in picture 2, but I don’t buy it. The jump, plus straightening out that long leg on the step, takes a while. Something needs to hold the wheel or drivetrain from rolling out while he’s doing that.

Wolfgang is pretty tall, an aid in giraffe mounting. No, I haven’t seen him since Unicon VIII or IX ('96 or '98). I believe he has a PhD in Mathematics; typical unicyclist. :slight_smile:

Dosn’t count, its got steps.

Oh. What else doesn’t count?

It’s more amazing than that. The giraffe has no step. He’s going from right foot on the tire to left foot on the pedal. Once his left foot is on the lower pedal the wheel will theoretically not roll freely.

I found his web site. Here’s the pictures and a text description of each picture during the mount. The web site has him named Dr. Wolfgang Schaper.

Ah, it all makes sense now.

Yes, I am.

Actually there’s no step or tire-break or anything like that. It’s just a normal giraffe unicycle.
So there is no error in the pictures, because there are only two steps to make: first on the tire, second on the pedal.
In fact these pictures origin from different mounts, as there was no camera around at that time that would make 10 pictures per second. So each picture shows a different mount.

We met at Unicon in Copenhagen last year. You remember? I bet you in gladiators … :smiley:

I have to admit that I didn’t freemount that giraffe for some years now. When I tried a couple of months ago, I failed. So currently I am not able to demonstrate that freemount. Don’t know, if I will succeed with some practicing, or if I am already too old for that.

Missing letter ‘a’. Of course it’s not about betting, but about beating John.

Hey Wolfgang! Sorry I forgot about that last summer. I think my brain is full when it comes to unicyclists! Or it was early or something. Now that you’ve taken me down, you must try some of the Danes. Lars, Christian, Jesper are all really great at Sumo!

Thanks for your description of the mount. Now the pictures make sense, and it even helped me remember why those pictures were so important; that big jump from the tire to the pedal! Perhaps this is the understatement of the century (people can argue about which century…):

"It takes some nuts doing it the first time when the pedals are at eye level or above. The foot not catching the pedal may cause pain. "

My guess would be that it would still take some nuts to do it the 100th time. I can’t blame you for being a little worried about doing that mount. Same for me with my “easy” 9-footer. The climb is easy, but all those landings while holding the unicycle are hard on the feet/ankles/legs.

I tried them all. Sometimes they won, sometimes I lost. Anyway, it was great fun.

Yes, that’s true.

I am not worried about the mount, I just can’t do it anymore. Maybe I should not have had that long break on the tall giraffe. My feet/ankles/legs are fine. No problem with them. But I won’t get high enough when jumping off the wheel. Is it my age, the lack of practicing, or both? I don’t know. And I am sure, it won’t become easier for me over the years, when getting even older.

You remember Chris Mimkes? He was the other German guy who was able to freemount that tall giraffes. He is just selling all his toys. So he’s out of business as well.
The third one I know about is Javier Ruiz from Puerto Rico. Didn’t hear from him for some years. So I don’t know, if he can still do the freemount.
Then there is Jean-Michel Paré from the Flying Dutchmen. He has an injured knee that won’t allow him to dismount tall giraffes. So he also won’t do it anymore.
Is there anyone left to freemount these beasts?


I’m glad you piped in here. Wether you can do it now or not, you have done it - and that’s very impressive.

I have read your webpage about the physics of spins. Good stuff. I’ve noticed that people rarely talk about them or post videos featuring back spins, front spins, etc… On occasion, but not as much as I would expect. I find that odd because I think backspins, frontspins and pirouettes are very impressive manuevers. The videos I do find tend to be freestyle performances by asian people.

Back to our topic. What is the tallest giraffe you know of anyone ever freemounting? So far it looks like you have the record with a 9 1/2 footer.

I know of 4 people who are or were able to mount the exact same giraffe, I have: Javier Ruiz, Chris Mimkes, Jean-Michel Paré, and myself. As the other three guys are smaller than I am, their seats are lower. So formally, my one would be the tallest. But I think that is an unfair approach. I’d prefer to measure the height of the bottom bracket, and that’s the same for all 4 giraffes. Actually the other three guys’ achievments should be rated higher than mine, as they are smaller. So compared to their bodies, their giraffes are taller than mine.