RE: Unicycle Speed Record
Danny Colyer wrote:
> This doesn’t do much for the UK perception of Americans as living in a
> cotton-wool wrapped society resulting from excessive litigation. Live a
> little, take a few risks, and don’t take this as flamebait <G>.
I agree with Danny completely. Our problem here is that we’re wrapped in not in
cotton, but lawyers. Out on the trails we can do whatever we want (though I
prefer to be protected), but when you ride in someone else’s building or at
someone else’s event, that’s when it gets sticky. We originally introduced
mandatory kneepads and gloves for IUF racing in 1988. The main reason for this
was image. As you know, a normal civilian seeing unicyclists automatically
thinks of us as zany clowns. It doesn’t matter if you’re covered with mud on a
trail miles from civilization, or zooming around a track at high speed. By
having some safety equipment on the kids, it forces people to at least notice
we’ve considered the possiblity of a tumble. The other reason is the press.
Watch the press when they come to a unicycle event. They will simply be waiting
around for a big nasty crash, because they expect them to happen and get
impatient if they don’t happen every few minutes, as they assumed they would.
A while back Beirne Konarski sent me a video from a very old episode of Charles
Kuralt Across America (spelling and title approximate). This was a TV show where
this guy criss-crossed the country showing all sorts of interesting things
people did. In the late 60’s or early 70’s they visited St. Helens school in
Newberry, Ohio. This was the school where everybody rode a unicycle as part of
the P.E. program. This video showd the kids, dressed in their formal looking
catholic school uniforms, riding regular unicycles and giraffes up & down the
halls, dodging nuns and going down stairs. In an interview with Father Moran (a
USA founding member), they asked him what about the kids getting hurt. He
replied something like kids get hurt every day, it’s part of growing up. But
when a kid learns to ride a unicycle, it’s something he or she does. Nobody can
do it for them, and it’s something they get to keep with them for the rest of
Unfortunately Father Moran is gone, and most of our ability to take risks in
this country went with him. But unicycles are still ridden in schools, and the
people who do it know the benefits well.
> Tee hee - all this reminds me of the Unicon in Guildford in 1996. The
> Americans there seemed obsessed with safety equipment, wearing kneepads and
> elbow pads for everything. I even saw a few wearing helmets! On unicycles!
> They seemed shocked to see me playing hockey in my flip-flops.
Yes, I wear a helmet. Not for all forms of riding, but I find it protects me
from sunburn on the track! Those of you with full heads of hair need a different
excuse. I originally wore kneepads and gloves because I was tired of dealing
with scabs on my hands and knees. I’m not obsessed though. I put them on and I
ride. I make sure I have comfortable ones, so I can forget they are there while
I’m riding (again, the suntan later reminds me I was wearing them).
Currently there is a growing movement in the Unicycling Society of America to
make helmets mandatory for racing. I would rather not. I hope that in a fun
sport like unicycling, we can retain the freedom to make our own choices. Nobody
is going to be forced to not wear a helmet, but it’s a good idea for small
children, who are less likely to be experienced and have less control of their
body in a fall. Clubs can have a helmet rule if they wish, even whole
conventions. But let the people make their own choices.
But for me it only takes seeing a half-severed toe once (which I have) to
convince me to wear shoes when playing any kind of multi-rider sport like hockey
though… But I fully support your free choice not to!
Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone http://www.unicycling.com