Toronto NUC notes (long-ish)

Some brief notes about the recent unicycle convention which just ended
Sunday, July 22. These notes are from David Stone and Joe Merrill,
co-founders of the NY Unatics (rhymes with Lunatics, btw).

David’s notes:

It was held in Etobicoke, just outside Toronto. Over 300 participants.

Clubs represented: *Puerto Rico’s (20 members present out of a total of
about 30 – wow!) *the Panther Pride (many members all the way from the
state of Washington, some of whom drove!) *TCUC (from Twin Cities, MI.
Around 50 members present *RTUC (RT = Richmond Township, MI) – many nice
and talented riders WOW (Woods One Wheelers) from Ohio - mamy riders
present, and all really nice) .
…and the humble clubs of New York (three
members including me, Joe Merrill, and Bill Ryan), and Arizona (two
members that I know of including its founder Keith).

Events: I participated or watched most of the events; I left Saturday
morning, but Joe will fill us in (below) on the Muni stuff he enjoyed. He
also did more trials stuff than I did.

Artistic: It was amazing to see the individual and pair performances –
the skills of these riders are just incredible. Team performances ranged
from adorable to incredible (the skills of TCUC riders were set
wonderfully to a medley from the movie “Grease,” and Panther Pride created
a stuffed Pink Panther that rode its own unicycle, sorta).

Unicycle Hockey and Basketball: I played in both, and they were a blast.
There are some teams that actually hold practices and are serious (well,
at least they have strategies). I was just happy to have scored in both
events, but my teams lost both times in the first round.

Public Show: This was truly hysterical. Joe was abused by the emcee when
he ended up as a volunteer at the outset of the show. The emcee was not
only funny but is also extremely talented in a variety of ways
(unicycling, juggling, gags, etc), and he was joined on stage by many
talented performers, notably a female clown who was great. There were also
strong performances by unicyclists participating in the NUC and an
interesting but overly long one on jump ropes by a local group of talented
youngsters called the Hamilton Hoppers.

Downtown ride/tour: Many riders descended upon downtown Toronto on a
lovely day for a ride and tour of various sites and sights. My group went
or a ride of about 2 hours, tho much of that was spent making sure
everyone was ready for the next street-crossing, so I would guess that a
fast rider could have done the same tour in half the time. We visited the
Univ. of Toronto and a few other locations, but our guide was on the quiet
side, so I have almost no idea where we visited. A bunch of us made the
ride a sort of moving and stationary obstacle course, using everything
from pedestrians and fellow unicyclists to the many fixtures on the
streets. Chinatown was a fun challenge. All groups arrived at the CN Tower
eventually and then headed back to City Hall, where we’d started.

Races: Boy, some people are really serious about this aspect – and
really fast. I had never seen a ‘racing unicycle’ before, but basically
it’s got a light frame and superthin wheel. Riders usually hold onto the
plastic thing coming out of the front of the seat (like on my trials uni)
to steady the cycle, sometimes with both hands, which seems weird. Since
I, uh, forgot my racing uni (translation: I was only vaguely aware there
were such things) I used the same uni I’d bought just a few days earlier
for the hockey and basketball games. I would have used my old Schwinn,
but I was afraid I’d explode another innertube; anyhow, I needed an
eleventh unicycle.

Joe and I were actually able to do well in our age group (30-39). Between
the two of us, we won something like 8 medals. Bill Ryan (the third Unatic
present) also won at least 2 that I know of in his age group. [Bad news,
Bill: you get to compete with John Foss next year.] My proudest moment was
my 4th place finish (out of 4 riders) in the wheel-walking race covering
30 meters. The winning time in my age group (by John Foss) was around 10
seconds. I was concentrating too hard on staying up to follow the blazing
speed of the other riders, and to my amazement I actually crossed the
finish line while still riding the uni – it was the furthest I’d ever
walked the wheel. Elapsed time: 34.34 sec. I joked that I thought it was
another ‘slow race.’

People: It was great to meet many of the folks I’d only chatted with in
the cyber world. It was also really neat meeting Kris Holm and Dan Heaton,
two of the most amazing extreme unicyclists in the world; Dan figured out
a really cool trick with my spin cycle. He held the seat out in front,
dropped it so that he caught the seat post with his feet, then kicked the
frame back up – all while spinning the seat. The Puerto Rican club
members were all really nice, and no one was more impressive than a
13-year-old boy named Jacinto. He has only been riding for about 7 months,
yet he is one of the best and most ‘natural’ riders most of us have ever
seen. He could easily be a force in unicycling for decades. There were
several level 10 riders present (at least 4 that I know of), and I enjoyed
hanging out with Irene Genelin; she is really sweet and is an incredibly
versatile yet modest rider. I overheard one little boy say that he thought
she looks like Barbie.

Levels-testing: I finally had a chance to test for the levels officially,
and I managed to pass levels 5 and 6 (levels 1-4 can be handled
unofficially, so I didn’t have to bother with those). When I learn 1-foot
wheel walking, I’ll pass level 7, but level 8 requires walking the wheel
with my hands, so that’s going to take a bit longer! Moreover, I am now an
official levels tester for our club.

Last word: The Toronto club did a truly amazing and awe-inspiring job
considering all that they had to do. Hats off to Darren and the many
others who worked their tails off for this event, and thanks. I would
love to host an event here in NYC one day, but that won’t be for a
decade or so.

Here are Joe’s notes:

Muni day one: There were three events on Saturday, downhill, uphill, and
cross country (4km). About a hundred riders came out for this. The
downhill was on a ski slope. I didn’t realize how steep a slope can be
handled with a MUni until I saw it done. The amazing part was seeing a 9
year old girl named Lacey skillfully going down this slope on a plain,
freestyle uni! It was also cool to see Kris Holm leap out onto the slope
and fly down the hill at blazing speed. (When we walked up the slope, I
was a bit nervous, but it turned out fine). The uphill event consisted of
three stages, moderate, really, really steep, then riduculous. Several
teenagers finished the whole thing, I could only make it halfway up. It
was a real eye opener to see what can be done on a muni. I’m hooked.

Muni day two. Twenty muni riders went to a different ski area. There was a
short trail called X-treme Mayhem. I think this may be the most fun I’ve
had unicycling. I finally got to see a scenario I had only heard about: it
was actually easier for us on unis than it was for the mountain bikers.
The turns were too sharp, and the logs too abrupt for a bike. None of
these bikers had EVER seen a uni, never mind 20 of them hitting the most
extreme trail, and they sort of stood and watched with their jaws down.
Nathan Hoover’s 9 yr old son was as capable as anyone else on the trail.
(He beat many adults on the cross country race).

Trials Kris Holm designed the trials course, and during the course of the
day, about 50 people tried it with Monty’s and Muni’s. Quite a sight. (A
trials course is a bunch of man-made obstacles designed to be ridden over,
and of varying difficulty.) Kris gave a workshop where we learned
techniques for drops, pedal grabs, hopping, and a variety of other stuff.
There was a junk car to ride on. Kris demonstrated a pedal grab onto the
car’s window ledge, and then hopped up to the roof. If you don’t know
about Kris, check out his photos: <A
HREF=“http://community.webshots.com/album/13752683aeSaHzGjMy”>Kris
Holm</A> Kris is an amazing athlete.

> *TCUC (from Twin Cities, MI. Around 50 members present

    Actually TCUC from Minnesota (MN), Not Michigan (MI)

> There was a short trail called X-treme Mayhem. I think this may be the
> most fun I’ve had unicycling.

    Agreed.

That's about all I got to say about NUC besides an all around great
time and Great job Toronto Unicyclists for setting that up.

Remeber, Dont Fall like me, M.A.D.

Nice writeup Joe and David - it was great to meet you both. Two minor
corrections: the great trail at the Dagmar Ski Area was PROJECT MAYHEM,
and I’m pretty sure Lacey from Washington is still only 8, not 9.

—Nathan