They Yelled, "Can I have your autograph?"

…they came running over to me repeatedly yelling, “Can I have your autograph, can I have your autograph?” A group of 7 or 8 boys ages 8 – 13 came running behind me after seeing me riding my Muni at the park. Oh, great, what do I do now, I thought. I always get embarrassed in situations like this.

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After finishing schoolwork this past Sunday morning, I treated myself to a much needed 30 minute ride at a park in Glendale. This was the first time all week I had gotten a chance to ride. Temps were pleasant with a comfy nip in the air. Overcast skies reflected Los Angeles’ June Gloom for this time of year.

My 10 year old son goes to Temple School on Sundays. This was there last date for school, so they moved it to the local park. I had dropped him off an hour and a half earlier. I began riding the park, which provides some light trials. This includes a sinuous 5” wide and 2’ high wall that runs 50’ along the perimeter of the sand box. It’s always my goal to ride this out to the bitter end. On this day, I made it half way and dropped the Uni several times adding war wounds to the what-used-to-be pristine purple paint job. Leaps to the sand are always fun for the imminent UPD. Right after a water brake at the car, I did my first rolling hop up onto the curb. I thought, “Huh, I did that, no way.” Couldn’t stop and recheck that one, I had to make it to the restroom as the body was calling.

To break up the routine, I head across the grassy areas ignoring stares. I find the 20” high long brown benches. I mount on them but sometimes, if I start in the wrong place, I come off the bench weak foot forward and UPD. On this day, however, the Gods are with me as I land every drop. It doesn’t matter which foot is forward. I ride off, hop off, and try a forward hop while thinking of Bill Hamilton’s (Billham) attempts at landing a 30” forward gap. If a 48 year old can do this, why can’t I? Well, I need more practice, but came close to that distance. Some boxers that were practice sparingare next too me. I notice them staring at me, but no one says a thing. I politely smile and continue and then move on

I slither over to small round wading pool devoid of any water. Looks deep enough to hop into and hop out of. Looks just shy of 10”. Any higher and I am afraid of not making the hop out and worried about screwing up my wrist again. My son’s teacher comes out of the bathroom with some of her students. No Sammy with her, but she looks right at me. I smile and say, “Hi, this is what I do for my outlet”. She smiles back but doesn’t recognize me. Okay, fine.

I have had a good ride today, I feel good. All body parts are functioning properly. No pain in the ankles or feet, no back aches. I constantly think about how much I enjoy my Shimano DX pedals. So, comfy. It doesn’t get any better than this.

It’s time to go. I head over to the picnic table where I spy my son. I ride up and he’s looking excited to see me with a box of donuts that his teacher had given him. “Daaaadd, You want a donut?” I am thinking, heart attack,- no thanks. I politely say, “no”. All the classes were outside in one big group and we ventured over to his teacher to say good bye and wish her a nice summer. She sees me and spots the purple beast next to me. With guffaws, she realizes it was me she saw. Then she says, the ubiquitous “Oh, I didn’t know you ride a unicycle. You will have to come and do a show for my class. Do you know any tricks?”…

We politely say good bye and I ride a ways with Sammy by my side and then it starts. From afar, I hear, many boys voices running after us yelling, “Can we have your autograph, can we have your autograph?!” Ohhh, for crying out loud, I think. The boys ages range from 8 to 13 by my estimate. They come running up. I am really embarrassed and thinking what do I do now?
I get the positive comments about it being cool and can I ride that from the smallest one. I remark politely, “ You can’t reach the pedals.” The next question is inevitably, “Can you do any tricks?” I sigh, and say, “No, but I can ride that wall over there.” The chorus chimes together, “Cool, let’s see”. As I ride over to the wall, I think, “I can’t blow this, I can’t blow this, I can do this” it turns into a mantra inside my head. I hear, “Look at him, that’s sooo cool.” I am on the wall ride it from the middle to the near the very end. The wall turns gradually right and I begin leaning left. Just shy of the end of the wall, I decide to bail with a rolling hop off to the left and into the sand. It looks like I planned it. Cheers go up. I feel like one bitchen baddass for just a moment. I decide continue heading over to my parked car.

I always get uncomfortable in these moments. I like riding a unicycle. In fact, it has become a passion for me, but I almost loathe the attention it brings me sometimes. One person at a time, on a trail I can handle, but when there’s a group, I don’t feel comfortable. I feel like slithering away. …but, the cheers helped.

Nice story Rod.

You are a role model dad, teacher and unicyclist.

Cool! Great read, I’m not too keen on people staring or asking the kinds of Qs you were asked either, especially when the Q is “how do you ride that?” It always seems like I’m being really sarcastic if I say “just sit down and pedal” but it’s the truth! I find it quite embarrassing also! Never been asked formy autograph tho, which is a shame!

It is fantastic to pull of a nice move with an audiece on occassion! I was in Hong Kong recently and I was messing around on my trials uni and slowly but surely a large group of people had gathered as I was riding a wall/ledge thing. I didn’t mind it too much as I don’t speak the lingo, so no-one asked me any Qs and I don’t think I got any silly coments!

Do you find the DXs to be grippy? I’ve never tried any, but when I was pedal shopping a while back, I thought the pins looked kind of short?

Keep up the good riding!

I loved the story, Rod… except for the part about dinging the paint, that hurt.
It sounds like you really had the moves goin’, considering how little you have ridden the new muni. At the park where I ride there are often large birthday parties going on and occasionally I find myself suddenly surrounded by a crowd of children rattling off questions for which there are no answers. It makes me a little uncomfortable but I can usually passify them by just riding down the stairs and hopping back up. There is always at least one wise guy that will tell me to jump off the roof, or ride up a tree.

I was glad to hear Rod say he was enjoying the pedals since I kind of encouraged him to get them. I really like mine, but I know he had a hard time deciding to get them because he was afraid they weren’t grippy enough. I will be interested to see what his answer is.

Scott

Face it. When you ride a unicycle, sometimes—just sometimes—you’re a star. Might as well bask in the attention, because it won’t last!

Most spontaneous autograph seekers are not that big a threat. They don’t have anything to write on, or with! That’s the autograph-seeker’s responsibility. Back when I did school shows all the time, we got lots of requests for autographs, but we handled it with a “not enough time” policy. Because if one kid asks, suddenly every kid in earshot wants one. You can’t tell which ones really, actually want one. If you sign the 50 autographs in such a situation, you’ll find half of them littering the floor within five minutes.

So in the shools, the ones who got the autographs were usually the ones that helped us pack or unpack our equipment, or otherwise showed some committment.

I was never very into autographs myself. I’d rather have a picture of the person, or better yet a picture of that person with me. I still have a picture of me with Greg LeMond on my refrigerator. But I also have his signature on a flyer for MUni Weekend I. That happened on the weekend before that first MUni Weekend.

Don’t get stressed about questions kids ask you. Kids are very good at coming up with unanswerable questions. This is different from the press who come up with questions you never thought of, and don’t want to answer. In most cases, the kids are satisfied to get an answer of any kind, in that they got some interaction with you. They’re interested!

I always try to answer kids the same way I would adults, with the amount of information they appear to want to hear. So if I get asked a meaningless question like “How hard is that?” I usually give an equally meaningless answer, like “Not quite as hard as this cement!”

Usually, the ones who really want to know about unicycling are pretty easy to identify. I always try to make sure the overriding message is that anyone can learn, you just have to stick with it.

That’s one of the worst parts of unicycling in my opinion. Do they have to stare? I always thought if I ever saw a big time celebrity, I’d give them their space. They dont’ owe me anything, so I won’t get in their way. I guess being on a unicycle turns you into a part-time celebrity, huh? Ah, well. I’ll get over it. This is just me complaining.

Nice with the wall.
I had my first unprovoked (I was on public land next to a road, with no pedestrian traffic on my side of the road and I’d asked park officials and they said they were happy I was riding in the park and didn’t mind my hopping on the rocks. Basically, this person had no reason to be nagative towards me.) and mutually negative experience with a stranger on Sunday. I was riding trials in a local park (see above) and I was about to try to land a particularly difficult gap from one rock to another. I was about to do the stillstand into the gap when some total stranger driving by yells at me “Oh give up! You’ll never make it!” I decided the guy was just some random asshole, and ironically enough, I landed the gap immediately on the first try of the day. As I landed it I heard him swear and yell “LOSER!!!” as he drove off. What an idiot.

Now for the good part to remove any negativity from the previous 30 seconds of the ride.

Well, the gap I had just landed was the last gap of a long series of them that I’d never landed in one try with no dabs before. After the a-hole drove off I went to the beginning of the line and started fresh. I landed the first gap/up and almost without pause put the seat back in and landed the next one. I then began to idle to take a quick rest (the rest of the line is very technical and has no spots where one can rest before the next hop, and the first two moves of the line are very big, so I always take a quick breather on the one flat rock in the whole line). After about 7 idles I take the seat out and go to the next rock. It’s a strange gap because it’s onto an incline and the rick tips in the dirt so I immediately have to get to the top of the rock before I get dumped off.

I land it perfectly and prepare for the next gap. It’s a hard gap because the next landing zone is a compound angle where the rock has an incline towards me on the right side of the side facing me, and the middle and left of the rock is inclined so that if I gapped to those spots my wheel would turn and I’d faceplant. Thus, I gap to the riged right part and land it, although I’m now getting tired so it’s a little sketchy and I barely keep from hopping off again.

I get back in control and prep for the last, most difficult gap. The rock I’m currently on turns into a ridge about 8" from where my tire currently is. The ridge is about 2.5" wide and points directly at the next rock. The face of the rock I intend to land on is strange because it’s pretty much flat and horozontal except where there’s a pyramid like piece of rock taking up about half of the landing zone I want to use. I hop out onto the ridge, being very careful to keep my tire parrallell to the ridge, and get to the end, where I can then gap. I don’t like front static gaps, but here it’s the only option. I go for it, making sure I don’t land on the pyramid.

I stick it! I put the seat back in and do a short stillstand to savor the moment before I hop down into the dirt and raise my arms in a moment of private victory. Unbeknownst to me there was a small crowd of locals who had gathered across the street and I guess had seen me land the whole line. My hands immediately go down as I hear “Great job! That was amazing!” My face glows with a huge smile painted across it even as I turn red and ride over to my camelbak to shyly take a sip. I was glad I didn’t know about the people as I did the line, but it was great to know someone else had witnessed my triumph over a line I’d been trying for about 3 weekends straight. Basically, I prefer to have a few spectators who don’t really ask too many questions, and who I don’t know about until it’s over.

They asked me to do a few more lines I had planned to do anyway, and then I left. Other than the idiot in the beginning, it was a great ride and nice to have peopel see it.

If a unicyclist whoops with joy after landing a challenging move/line, and nobody hears/sees it, does he/she make a noise?

OWS,

I would like to give you some solid feedback, but it’s too early. My expression of “comfy” refers to how they feel to my foot. I was riding on Snafu pedals which are pretty much straight across at the point above the spindle. The DX pedals are entirely concave including the area above the spindle, so my foot seats nicely there. Very nicely, in fact. That’s what I meant by comfy.

I am still riding with the short pins, however I want to swap out to the longer pins that came with the pedals. I can probably do that by the end of the week. That should help on the grippiness aspect. I bought the pedals on EBAy including shipping for $56 USD. They came new out of the box, but three of the pins were flush with the pedal. The pedals may be “seconds”, but puting in the longer screws will eliminate this problem. I am going to run longer pins in all the holes except the two outside holes. This seems to be where the pedal takes most of the impacts from curbs and rocks.

I will email you in about a month to let you know how it works out, or I will post something to the reviews forum.

yeah,dont wait to long to do that.i had the little pins in for awile and went to install the longer ones.i found out that if the pins even get smashed a little bit,its impossible to get that 1.5 mm allen key in there or it just rounds out.

also,if you ever plan on getting some spare pins,start looking now cause they are a really weird size that nobody has.there was this guy at the shop that had to wait 6 months for some to get ordered from Shimano directly.

other than those 2 issues they are great pedals though.

Use Loctite when you put the new pins in. Otherwise they’ll loosen and fall out. The medium strength Loctite should be good enough to hold them in place.

The pins are available in any length from McMaster-Carr. I am running 8mm right now. I don’t remember if the long ones that come with the pedals are 8mm or 10mm.
Small needle nose Vice Grips do a good job of removing them when they get banged up.
Screenshot and photo attached, I hope.

Scott

true for the long ones but the little ones are almost impossible to get a good grip on.

?

I once heard a kid say I was his idol.

David

One time when I went riding at a skate park every one there proclaimed me “The coolest kid ever” it was pretty awesome.

Another cool group thing was when our group ( the Gym Dandies) did a performance in Patton (northern Maine) for 3rd thru 8th graders promoting circus arts for physical activities. I went out side during the 3rd-4th grade recess (did some riding on the playground and bleachers) one kid started following me around… then another…and another…within 5 minuets i hade 50 kids chasing me. I rode around the soccer field and all over the place. They could just keep up with me on my 24’. Some of my friends took some pictures. When I stopped they would surround me and ask the usually questions. At one point the took my unicycle and all ran off with it (until a teacher yelled at them) It was a very strange experience.

Kaycee