Unicon 21 - Who’s going? / What’s it like?

Well, I hope you keep safe and well.
Every week we see on the news for the US that another dozen children are killed in a school, or someone going out shopping because of madmen, thinking that they should be all allowed to own guns.
I have personally been to Countries that were at Civil War (Algeria 1993) and It felt much safer than my few times in the US. We could not believe how many people either carried guns or said they had guns at home or under their desk at work…
Guns for unsafe environment.
So I’ve taken a personal stand of staying away from the USA.

I’m so glad to love down under in New Zealand and enjoy Travelling overseas to Australia from time to time.

It’s time for me to go out for a walk now with my dog, then maybe a unicycle ride this afternoon.

Being in Australia I doubt I’ll be going to a Unicon anytime soon, I can’t really justify the expense of going to USA just yet.


I live in Bemidji.

Guns in truck back windows: As per Minnesota state statute, It is against the law to transport a firearm in a vehicle without the firearm being unloaded and in a case made specifically for firearms with no part of the firearm exposed. I rarely see people carrying pistols, which would require a permit to carry.

It is suggested, to fly to Minneapolis (MSP) and get a spot on the Unicon Bus to Bemidji, because the flight to Bemidji is like $200 or something like that. The drive though, is 4 hours and boring, might be less boring on a bus of unicyclists.

Because of Bemidji’s location, it’s not unheard of people traveling an hour or two to come to our Walmart, Target (both of which are on the larger side). A lot of our town is supported by a larger number of rural citizens, three reservations, that and the college students.


This is a fascinating thread. Don’t want to go to Unicon because I would have to take a plane! If nobody did that, it wouldn’t be much of a Unicon, would it? Except in Europe, where so many countries are nearby. Otherwise, we kind of count on it. But yes, international travel across oceans is going to be expensive.

Why Bemidji? Not the location, but the town is supposed to be super-nice in the summertime, will be empty of college students, and the facilities at the college should be excellent. And most importantly, Bemidji wants us; I think the town will be a great host.

If you like getting away from it all, Bemidji should be perfect for you. To combine it with a vacation in the USA you’ll just have to treat it like two separate things, and travel to your other destinations of choice either before or after Unicon. That’s what we usually do.

This Unicon wont’ be huge like the ones in Europe, and that has many upsides. You’ll have a better chance to get to know lots of people. It will probably be easier to get to more events, and there will be more of a comunity feel. All of that should be quite nice.

If not driving, best way to get there is probably via MSP (Minneapolis International Airport), which is a big Delta hub. Take the bus or rent a car. I’ll be there!

Guns? Remember, this is a really big country with a huge population. Your odds of being in or near a shooting are extremely tiny, especially in a small town. Flying to Paris during the Olympics? Don’t worry about that either; there will be tons of flights. Traffic into Paris, on the other hand… I’ll be there as well. Jacquie and I are going to the Olympics!


Well…, Yes. That would be sad, but maybe we should stop international meetings. Not because of the price - people are free to spend their money if they want to -, but because of the carbon footprint of such journeys. I mean, I was one of the core organizers of Unicon 20. We’ve had a eco-label for such an event because we basically sorted the waste (that’s of course an exaggeration, we’ve had more initiatives but you get the point). However, people from all over the world have traveled to come at Grenoble. I agree time and memories of Unicon are really great, but I’m not sure they were worth the carbon footprint.

I also know this is more of an European way of thinking, as Americans are usually more used to take the plane and that seems normal for most of them. But I don’t think it should be normal because of the current global warming. Minds still have to change I guess.


Just to second what you said. Given the state of the world I would find it increasingly hard to justify taking a plane for such an event. My work involves/expects some amount of travel but to an extent I can still opt out, which is why I never made the last work trip to the US and I will be skipping an upcoming work trip to Iceland. Right now I cannot see myself taking a plane for (as much as I love it) my hobby. I personally need a stronger reason at this stage.

I am not going to go so far as complaining about those who do though. I do not know everyone’s individual sitiuation. Many might consider this a one off / last chance, or perhaps be combining it with something else, for which such a trip is more nessecary. But the environmental aspects should at least give pause for thought. This is not just about the monetary cost.


I think the green aspect of running such an event is pretty key and it should in my view be upper most in everyone’s mind.

But if I were local to Unicon - as in it was held in my country and I attended - I’d in some ways be supporting it to take place, which means there will be many people flying from further afield.

So for Unicon to have zero impact on a carbon foot print angle - then it would have to stop. Full stop and not run.

But realistically people want events and they range from - in my very judgemental stance - overly “meaningless” package holidays where people go to a resort and stay in the hotel and then get back on their plane and return to the humdrum of their working lives, to perhaps more valid and purposeful travel.

I probably go on about this too much. But we don’t do that kind of “getaway” trip nor do we run a car. So even though it is anathema to me to say we have an “emissions allowances” - if this is a conscionable thing, then it becomes a reward and cost based equation, where should I fly all that way, it is due to not doing anything else that emits that carbon footprint and being super conscious over the action taken in the emitting.

At its root we could argue it ultimately is a selfish action if I decide to drop the dollar (or pound £) and fly to the USA - as I’m simply, selfishly saying: my need or want to ride single wheels is valid enough to emit the carbon…

But at what level do we stop altogether human endeavour and activity and enjoyment?

It’s so tricky. And never ends with a fair or correct argument - it’s a conflict of desires and conscience.


I sure hope I can make it the Bemidji Unicon!
It’s my childhood playground of camping and fishing memories!
You’ll find many Paul Bunyan statues around the area as it’s the mascot! There is a historical Buffalo Park in nearby Little Falls one should visit too!

(We’ll I had to ask DreamStudio to put Paul on a Uni for an illustration. Not too bad for the prompts I inputted.)


I totally agree with your point. Ultimately, that’s on everybody to choose whether they’d like to attend and take the plane, or skip the event and go to a alter one - if possible at all.

The same goes for the daily vehicle people use - car, train, bike, uni, … - and the diet - to eat meat or not to eat meat, that’s the question. I’m more of a uni/vegetarian guy, but everybody choose their way of life. And if the climate changes too much… Well, at least, I will be in peace with my conscience. (Sorry for the dramatic ending :sweat_smile: )

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The simplest solution would certainly be to create a state where there are only unicyclists. That way, we wouldn’t have to travel to see each other. :laughing:

I don’t like flying, or even the idea of flying. But for me, I think the UNICON could be my only valid reason for flying.


Not flying, seems to be restricting yourself for no real benefit. Being green requires much larger sacrifices, from armies, industries, and billionaires. This is from an American who is usually more used to walking everywhere, not flying.

I’ll be walking to unicon, I’m sure that offsets someone else’s carbon footprint.

Doing it as a single person does have any benefit (unless for your conscience), you’re absolutely right. But we can see more and more people are mindful about the Earth and its ecosystem. So we can hope for change!
I guess it would be called “communism” in the US, but billionaires shouldn’t even exist.

Seems like we got out of subject. Oops!

I’m debating going myself and have never been to one before. If I’m not going as a competitor and it looks like viewing the many sports is the main activity with a few workshops. If I was debating going for the full 2 weeks, what other stuff is there to do?

This is true. Americans probably worry less about flying because the country is so big (and our rail system is so limited); somehow it seems like the only reasonable way to cross the country, let along go farther.
Maxence, first of all, huge praise to you and the Unicon 20 team for putting on what must have been the largest and most complex Unicon ever. Most complete Unicon village experience ever, and greenest Unicon ever for its size. That was a tremendous effort, and delivered many unforgettable experiences for every attendee. We are in your debt.
Jet air travel does put a large amount of greenhouse gasses into the air, and should be a factor in everyone’s consideration for travel. For me, I think it’s worth it. Not necessarily for every one, but definitely to attend if you like the idea of what Unicon is. These types of events have not only enriched my life, but changed the course of it for me, in a very positive way. Not only do you get to have some amazing experiences, you get to know a little more about yourself and what you can do. I hope you will also meet a lot of new friends from around the world, and have a better understanding of people from different places and how we all have most things in common.

[quote=“MrBemidji, post:31, topic:280013”]
I’ll be walking to unicon, I’m sure that offsets someone else’s carbon footprint.
[/quote]You should be riding to Unicon, of course! :sunglasses: Your being local will surely help in the overall carbon cost of the event, as the vast majority of us will be traveling from farther away than the Twin Cities…

In response to not competing I would suggest you reconsider. These events are for all levels of participant, not just elite riders, that would be boring. Not to mention mind-crushing, if we could only watch those top riders and not try things for ourselves. You will have a much better experience if you enter at least some of the events. As for what else to do, I’ll speak for the organizers and start by saying to volunteer; these events only work with lots of volunteer help, and it’s very rewarding to be part of making things work. I highly recommend it. If you mean outside of Unicon, Bemidji offers the fresh air, lakes and watersports activities Minnesota is famous for. Should be nice, mild summer weather. Aside from that Bemidji is far from tourist attractions outside of those and Paul Bunyan-type stuff; you can make the Unicon trip part of a longer trip to see other attractions or places around the upper Midwest. :slight_smile:


Thank you for this response, @johnfoss !,

I (possibly) feel similar to @Sexy , as I don’t think my skills warrant competition in any way. (That being the case, @Sexy can likely compete in many events, especially if there is a “unipacking” event).

However years ago, I decided to lose weight by running, and ultimately entered a few 5k races. In my first, I knew I wasn’t going to win anything, and just wanted to finish. As I pushed my 3 year old son in a running stroller, seeing him lean forward and say, “Pass her, daddy! Pass her!” gave a completely new perspective on competition. I had run my “race”, and my son had “expectations” of dad, that I apparently met. To add a little time-frame context, the swag bag contained these neat little packets of tasty electrolyte granules that were perfectly portioned to pour into a pint-sized water bottle. He and I got to try it together, with each of us having a “Wow!” experience. I was amazed at the convenience and he was very much underwhelmed by the taste.

Fast-forward 8 years, and he and I entered our first 5k race in which he beat me, and he beat me badly. When he finished, I was still one mile from the finish line, at his pace. And, that was after he ran with me at MY pace for the first mile. Somewhere around mile marker #1, he turned around, said “Bye, dad”, and was GONE. Then, he was upset that he didn’t win the 11-14yr class. (Apparently, he would have won it if he hadn’t paced me for the first mile, but he never said that.). All that being said, I was never a “competitor”, but by entering the races I have, I have some wonderful memories and experiences that I never would have, otherwise.

For the upcoming Unicon, I plan to attend as much of it as I can, and plan to enter as many events as I can, as long as it isn’t stupid for me to do so. For example, I will not enter any Trials or Flatland events, but will attend as many as I can, and will be open to any advice or encouragement that I can find, within reason for this (older) rider. I skated (skateboarded) in high school, and the Trials/Street/Flatland aspect interests me, if only as a spectator.

I also plan to volunteer as I can, while meeting as many of you as possible.


No I want trains. We have some remote places that you just can’t get to with regional transit but driving long distances sucks. I want fast trains.

Now I need to bring a child??? Well we’re about 9 months away so we can make this work.

But I could bring out my tiny cranks carbon builds for some rides with people. Or talking with people about Unipacking and going on road or gravel rides.

Currently the trip would be $750 CAD for both gas or flying for me or a 2 day drive each way.

If I sleep in my car I can probably find places to park but also lots of driving :). In a perfect world I’d legit just bring my Unipacking stuff and be homeless for the trip weeks and shower at a gym. The expensive option is flying and staying in town makes this trip equal to the cost of a trip to a warm beach in the Carribean for me and my wife.

So as much as they sound like a lovely convention, I don’t want to be spending this kind of money to volunteer on my vacation.

I get about 3 weeks off per year paid so the alternative would be planning a big outdoor trip for cheaper.

So I was wondering if there any other examples people enjoying the more informal stuff? I love the example of the race and family experience though but when the nature around me is this pretty it isn’t looking as enticing as a trip closer to home using vacation days.


Me too! We’re way behind most of the world when it comes to passenger rail. Again this is probably related to the long distances between places. California has had a plan for a high speed rail line, but it mostly continues to increase in projected costs while hardly anything has been built yet. The future will contain high speed rail here, but it may take a long time.

That is entirely up to you but I think you’re making assumptions. :stuck_out_tongue:

I know exactly what you mean. But the idea is not to volunteer all day every day, just to be part of the machine that makes these things possible. They are entirely run by volunteers and wouldn’t exist without them/us. I’ve always found it rewarding, even if it’s not the most interesting job. On of my last ones at Unicon was collecting money during the pre-convention, in-person registration. Just the money for people staying in the classrooms; the inexpensive accommodations. More and more Euros being handed over, mostly in cash, and nobody stopping by to say “hey, want me to take some of that to a safe location?” It was just me at the table, and the Euros were piling up by the thousands. Finally I got someone to hold my spot and tell people to wait or come back, and took the big stash to the office for counting and matching up with all the paperwork. Whew!

Still it was a fun day, which ended with a huge crowd of people changing “UNICON! UNICON! UNICON!” Awesome.