Time Out NY article about us

Today in Time Out New York (Dec. 18, 2003 - Jan. 1, 2004), there was an
article about my unicycle club, the NYUC (also known as the Unatics). It
features a great photo of my brother with our young friend Emmy riding a
giraffe in the background. The article is titled Balancing Act, by Mina
Hochberg. Here it is:

Regardless of the weather, the New York Unicycle Club rolls on.

Comments like “Hey, faggot!” and “What happened to the rest of your bike?”
are just a few of the jeers David Stone endures on a daily basis. Stone is
the cofounder of the New York Unicycle Club, a close-knit, family-friendly
group of unicyclists who meet year-round at Grant’s Tomb (122nd Street and
Riverside Drive) every first Sunday and third Saturday of the month, from
1 to 6pm.

Given its association with circus clowns, the unicycle is widely regarded
as the freak show of the bicycle world. And although New York is teeming
with outrageous characters of all stripes, the sight of a unicyclist never
fails to elicit stares, giggles, and heckling. “Some people even sing
circus music,” Stone, 37, laments.

But you won’t find any red noses or rainbow wigs at NYUC gatherings.
Ironically, the joke is on the bystanders who watch while group members
show off fancy tricks such as mounts, figure eights, hops, spins and
pirouettes. More important than dazzling the onlookers, though, the goal
of NYUC meetings is for its members to learn skills, share tips and
practice stunts. And one-wheelers offer a more strenuous workout than
bikes: Unicycles don’t have gears, so the rider must pedal at all times,
even downhill (expert one-wheel riders can cruise as fast as 25 miles per

NYUC’s roots trace back to 2000, when Stone, an elementary school learning
educator, and fellow unicyclist Joe Merrill, 40, met at their daughters’
gymnastics class. The two men started riding together on weekends and
eventually decided to hunt down other uniriders to form a club. After
networking on the Web, seven curious riders joined them for NYUC’s first
meeting, at the Central Park band shell on a chilly afternoon in February

More than two years later, the club counts as many as 200 members, from
ages 5 to 60, and is just one of the 60-plus similar organizations in the
U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe. Despite its remote location, NYUC’s
current meeting place offers an ideal variety of surfaces, including
smooth cement, dirt, grass, inclines, and even stairs. Membership is free,
and you don’t even need to own your own cycle, since there are usually a
few spare wheels hanging around.

“For me, a typical NYUC meeting means socializing and helping out
neophytes,” says Stone’s younger brother, John, 33, a freelance musician
and writer who pedaled 1,100 miles from Germany to Spain for the 2001
European Unicycle Tour. “The atmosphere is warm, and it’s always a
pleasure to see so many young riders.”

It also helps to bring along a sense of humor: Curious passersby might
think you look kind of silly. During a recent NYUC meeting, a
double-decker tour bus unleashed a herd of snap-happy tourists, who
promptly aimed their point-and-shoots at the group as if they were
photographing exotic creatures for National Geographic.

Of course, unicycling isn’t just a ride in the park. Since impediments
such as speed bumps and potholes are more likely to fell unicycles as
opposed to bikes, and because the single-wheeled contraptions don’t
include brake pedals (though most models are equipped with hand-brakes),
it’s important that riders learn safety techniques, like making quick
turns. “Even if you can ride really well, you still have to keep your
reactions sharp and be much more aware of your surroundings than when on a
bike,” says NYUC member Anne Benkovitz, 38.

Yet surprisingly, while New York City traffic laws address everything from
bicycles and tricycles to horse-drawn carriages, unicycles aren’t
mentioned, which is why their riders aren’t legally required to wear
helmets, knee pads, or other protective gear – though it’s highly
advised. (The city’s lack of unicycle laws enabled Merrill, a computer
security consultant, to beat a ticket he received for riding his uni on
the sidewalk.)

Still, unicycles are quite practical for city living. Benkovitz, an art
director for Scholastic, says that one-wheelers are not only more portable
than bikes, but also two to three times faster than walking. “Once I rode
by a group of guys who were walking on Spring Street, and one shook his
head and said to his friends, ‘Talk about inefficiency,’” she recalls.
“But I got to where I was going faster than they did.”

For more information, visit

Well, it gets off to a bleak start (it’s pretty rare that we get heckled,
especially as rudely as getting called ‘faggot’), but after that, it’s
pretty accurate. I liked how the group was called family-friendly (and it
certainly is), and the description of what goes on at a typical meet was
pretty spot-on. The information was accurate too, except for the part
about uni-brakes (most of us DON’T have one!), and the little anecdotes,
about the tourists, the ticket, and John’s ride, were a nice touch.

I am sure that this article will bring a lot of people to our website and
to the club.

David Stone

Re: Time Out NY article about us

nice coverage!!


That was a nice article. Expect news articles to start off with a silly quote or otherwise controversial-sounding remark. That’s journalism. I noticed especially the reporter’s perception that most unicycles have brakes (ha). Also the thing about how there are only about 60 unicycle clubs around the world? I’m sure you didn’t tell them that.

But the story painted a very positive picture, and will hopefully bring more riders your way. If I still lived in Nassau County, I’m sure I would try to get to your meetings as often as possible.

Re: Time Out NY article about us

For everyone’s clicking convenience, the correct (non-glitch) URL to our all-new web site is…