Thinking back to the time before unicycling...

Thinking back to the time before unicycling…

I knew unicycles, but had never seen one live. Maybe in a circus, but I don’t remember for sure. Unicycles didn’t mean anything to me.
Then I had a student (11 year old girl) who brought her uni along to a math lesson. After the lesson she showed me her skill of riding away from a fence. It was my first time I saw a unicycle live to remember it.
A couple of years later another student of mine brought a unicycle to lesson. She challenged me to try sitting on it. I sat on the saddle and held on to the fence with both hands. After 0.1 seconds I fell off for the first time, still holding onto the fence. After that experience, I had a persistent nagging feeling, because I don’t like no for an answer. Unicycles, I thought back then, are for talented girls only.
2007 or so I was jogging in the local forest when I suddenly saw someone - OMG!!! ON A UNICYCLE IN THE FOREST GOING UP A HILL ON A GRAVEL PATH. This was completely astounding to me.
From then on a unicycle was on top of every wish list I ever had.

What was your view on unicycles before you „took to the wheel“?

15 years ago I was running on the trails in the canyon next to my house when I came across a unicyclist. I could slap myself for not stopping the guy and asking him a hundred questions. Because it took another 10 years for me to sit on a unicycle. Now I ride on those same trails.

I was maybe twelve years old when i imagined myself riding a unicycle. I think I had seen one in a cartoon. Don’t recall having seen a real one but maybe in a circus.

Never thought of it again until aged 54 when I saw one for $10 in a garage sale and thought “now or never” so I bought it. Fell off and landed on my arse the first attempt. Soon realised it was ridiculously difficult and looked online for how to ride. Found videos of Kris Holm and others doing crazy stuff and decided I should be able to just ride one on level ground if they could do that so I kept at it until I could ride the ten metres across my front yard.

My wife asked me how I saw myself using the unicycle in the future and I said I thought I would just be riding it around our suburb and maybe eventually the kilometre to the local shop, though I had my doubts about managing to ride the “big hill”.

Didn’t even dream of how I would be riding a few weeks later let alone what I do now.

For many years before becoming a uncyclist, I was a joggler(a juggling runner) which is closely related to unicycling. Joggling is also an unusual activity which attracts a lot of attention and is thought of as a circus kind of act.

So on the rare occasion I would see a unicyclist around town I saw a kindred spirit. It just made sense for me to take up unicycling and I could also juggle while unicycling.

So maybe it would be better to think back before I was a joggler to answer this question. I would have thought unicyclists and jogglers were crazy, weird people. As well as attention-seekers, showoffs. But I think I would have also realized that this was an immensely fun athletic activity, but I could never do it due to my below average balance and coordination, not to mention how shy and modest I am…

I thought they were bizarre and somehow innately hilarious, even just to look at. Preposterous as a dueling pistol with the barrel pointed backwards.

And that you had to be physically gifted to ride one. It certainly didn’t occur to me that people would ride them outdoors, or anywhere outside of a circus rink.

Then I discovered there was such a thing as an electric unicycle(EUC). The videos blew my mind – it was like watching people fly, but somehow do it on the ground. Extremely dreamlike and wonderful. I watched oodles of them and then regular unicycle videos too. I got myself one of each and so far can’t ride either. But now, I can imagine it because I’ve seen it done on video so many times.

Quite often, even by people my age and older. That really helped bring the whole idea down to earth. And it helped to realize that you needed closer to 10 weeks than 10 years to learn how to ride a unicycle, even if only around the block.

I started to unicycling just by chance, a big chance: my friends gave it to me for my 33th birthday. A few weeks before my birthday, they asked me, many times, for some hint about my gift… but I did not have any good idea. So, a good friend of mine started to speak up, saying many stupid things: a good rubber, a wooden leg, a parrot, an unicycle… this guy kept saying crazy things, but my mind had suddenly stopped: an unicycle.

I had never thought of having an unicycle, just never thought about it, it seemed to me as something from another world and I was pretty sure I would never be able to ride it (even though I slackline sometimes). For me, it was that kind of things you are sure you are not able to do.

Anyhow, just to stop the laughing (this guy was still saying more and more nosense) I pronunced it out loud, almost without thinking… “an unicycle”. They stop talking in a second and we looked each other like saying: “who is talking seriously here?”… after a few seconds, there was no way back :D. It was crazy, sure, so what?

Around that time, I had to spend a few days in Germany for work. They met to prepare the thing pretty well… they looked for an old second-hand 20" unicycle on the internet and also built a replica, it was made of paper mache and painted in the same colors. Pretty neat I must said (see picture). The idea was to first give me the replica and see my face, and only after that, give me the real one.

Well, the celebration was funny. But when I got home, I placed the uni against the wall and sat down in front of it, then I stared at it for a while. My thoughs: “how the hell am I going to…?”, “this joke has gone too far”, “I have never seen this thing being ridden live, maybe all I have seen so far on videos it is just a clever photoshop trick…”.

After that, some problems stopped me for some time: the uni was in a worse state than expected and it seems that nobody here or within a 50km radius has ever touched an unicycle. I did not know where to buy spares neither. Because of this and some work duties I did not practise for almost a year and a half. Of course, I did not say my friends the unicycle had problems… A few months ago I tried it again, I was very motivated and my uni was just fixed. It took me a couple of weeks to ride it with confidence, but now, I really love it. I even think that it should be thaught to everybody just after biking… So, now, two years after that birthday, I am able to ride an unicycle, my friends doubted and some of them did not believe, I had to handle the jokes for some time also, you can image the surprise when I said: “Please guys, get out to the street and watch THIS” :slight_smile:

That is my story: started as somebody else’s joke, nobody believe it, nobody could say STOP. Now, I am sooo happy.

never even considered it

It retrospect it just seems so impossible that I don’t notice unicycles at all. Yes, I think I saw a few unicycles in books and maybe in a circus (probably a unicyclist on a high tightwire). I loved bikes as a kid, but somehow never even considered a unicycle a “real thing” that one could do or learn…

Later I became an avid cyclist, first road riding then mountain biking. I don’t know the year, but it was probably around 1998/2000 or so when I was getting started in mountain biking that I saw one of those extreme mountain biking videos of the day with a bunch of my mountain bike pals from our weekly ride, I think New World Disorder – just looked it up and it was New World Disorder II - Fat Tire Fury released in 2001 – and among all the seemingly impossible MTB stunts (many of which I later did as a MTB freerider and trials rider such as drops, gap jumps and skinnies) there was Kris Holm riding a unicycle on crazy North Shore lines that at the time I couldn’t ride on a bike!! I thought it was amazing but for whatever reason it didn’t inspire me to try it – I don’t think I even considered it… :thinking:

Then a few years later after I had made major strides in mountain bike freeride, I was on an 8-day MTB Freeride trip to Portes du Soleil in the French Alps and after one great day of lift-assisted freeriding, it rained for 6 days straight. After one failed attempt at riding in the mud and rain and 2 days of boredom, I was walking through the pedestrian zone in Switzerland and I guy from a bike shop with mostly trials bikes had a 24" Muni with a fat tire in his hand and asked if I wanted to try. “Well, yes…” and I sat on it for a few minutes and decided immediately that this is what I would do for the next few rainy days. I asked him if I could rent it for a few days (I’m so grateful he was flexible), and learned to ride after 2 days of non-stop practice in the parking garage. At the end of the week I went back and bought the Muni and was experimenting with free mounting and curves and already dreaming of riding off-road.

Why didn’t I try unicycling when I was a kid??