UNI LIST CHALLENGE

Name: John Foss (The Uni-Cyclone) Born: 03/03/62, Detroit, MI Learned to ride:
“almost” at age 14, then “the rest of the way” at age 17 Club Affiliation:
Joined Redford Club in 1980, founded Long Island Unicyclists in 1985 Work:
Motorcycle Instructor, Driving Instructor, Part time pro. performer Used to be:
Artist/Instructor for the National Circus Project, doing school programs around
the Northeast. Company founded by JeanPaul Jenack Hobby: Unicycle, Juggling &
similar skills, Photography, Bicycling, Collector of unicycles, unicycle
T-shirts, and Coca-Cola bottles & cans

LEARNED TO RIDE: (Alternate title “HOW NOT TO LEARN TO RIDE A UNICYCLE”)

I originally remember seeing unicycles for the first time in the Detroit
Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is usually telecast nationally. It was a group
from “a school where all the kids ride.” This was St. Helens, in Newberry, Ohio.
I was six. From then on, a pilot light was lit in the back of my mind that said
I want to do that. At age six, I got some hand made stilts instead.

Age 14, a neighbor had a Schwinn. Wow, interesting! I couldn’t borrow it,
because too many other people were using it. Then, my neighbor let me borrow
his. It was a red Troxel from Sears or somewhere. I soon found out why he let me
use it for as long as I wanted. It had a 16" hard plastic tire (no air), and
otherwise tricycle parts. Troxel is a large company making tricycles and other
vehicles for kids who can’t read yet. It did have the ability to raise the seat
to a reasonable height, and a banana type seat, which was not bad for a
unicycle. It did not have bearings. When you put your weight on the seat, there
was a huge amount of resistance to turning the wheel.

Over the course of several weeks I banged around the basement, holding onto old
furniture and whatever else was in reach, frequently throwing the infernal thing
into the corner and saying ‘to hell with it.’ but I would not let it win. Sooner
or later I always tried again until I could ride 20 - 30 feet or so. Just when I
got to where I could ride down my driveway and start to turn, the thing
self-destructed. The wheel would go up against the fork, and come to a stop. I
didn’t have the tools or technology at the time to fix it, so that was that.

Three years later, my neighbor Bradley went riding by on a Schwinn 6’ Giraffe. I
was again fascinated. I followed him around on a bike but I was too fast. I
followed him on foot but I was too slow. I would have to learn. It took a while
before I built up the guts (stupidity) to try it, but eventually I got on and
attempted to ride away from the trunk of a car, which was just the right height
to make it like starting a regular uni. from the curb. I only tried once and
went about 3’, but a few days later, I spent 45 minutes of concentrated
getting-back-on, until I could go away from the car, turn 180 degrees, ride up
the bump & up bradley’s driveway, until I got to the garage and grabbed the
basketball net.

One week later we set off on a 10 mile ride on one 20" Schwinn and the 20" wheel
giraffe. It was a trip of epic (painful) proportions! But that’s enough for now.
Maybe some other time I’ll relate a story which I hope you will find
interesting. Until then, get your back issues of ON ONE WHEEL, join the USA, and
read about what everyone else has done, with pictures!!!

John Foss, President International Unicycling Federation unifoss@cerfnet.com
voice: (516)731-7613