Unicycles on front page of town paper!

This week’s edition of our town newspaper featured a full front-page photo of my brother (UNIquely Canadian), and I riding our unicycles. It was nice to see the reporter also got most of his facts correct in the actual story which ran as well!

Here is the story which ran as well:

On a snowy, minus 45 afternoon, Malcolm and Cameron
Donaldson are charging up the giant hill on Sixth Street on their unicycles. The street is packed with ice and snow.

No matter, the brothers have become expert at steering their vehicles on all kinds of terrain.

In the summertime, the two will be tearing up Cochrane’s back trails – bouncing and bopping over stumps, logs, and rocks. In the winter, they have been known to tear up the downhill ski hills at Mont Saint-Sauveur on their unicycles.

Malcolm bikes to work every day to Norbord, where he is employed as a computer programmer.

The thick wheel on the unicycle permits riders to leap up to 90 centimeters in the air. Therefore, unicycle users can criss cross rocky brooks and travel through thick forests. (The Donaldsons can jump a good foot into the air.)

“You can do more with the unicycle than with a regular bike…it’s just more of an interesting experience,” says Malcolm Donaldson.

Once the relegated to circus acts and amusements park freak shows, unicycles are fast becoming one of Canada’s hottest recreational pursuits. There are annual conventions and competitions in Toronto. It’s only a matter of time before the activity makes its way in the Olympics. Just a decade ago, considers could not even buy a unicycle in stores.

The sport first became popularized by the Kris Holm; a Canadian geologist became the world’s first businessman to mass produce the items.

Kris Holm is the 2002 World Unicycle Trials Champion and the world’s best known mountain unicyclist.

But the Donaldson’s became interested in unicycling way before the Kris Holm era. The idea first caught the younger Donaldson’s attention when he was a kid. One of his favorite childhood reads was Disney’s “Bongo the Bear” which featured a page depicting Bongo cruising through the hills on a unicycle.

“I found it really neat – being off in the mountains on a unicycle,” said Cameron.

It wasn’t until years later that he actually took up the hobby. It took the brothers approximately two weeks to master the craft.

“The learning curve is very steep,” says Malcolm, laughing a little after realizing his pun.

The unicycle isn’t the only idiosyncratic pursuit of the Donaldson’s. They can also be seen wheeling around Cochrane in a home made recumbent bike, a sort of bike which allows users to lay back and relax while pedaling.

Despite its growing popularity in other parts of the country, the unicycling craze hasn’t exactly caught on in Cochrane. The Donaldson’s unicycling often generates a fair share of turned heads. When the two guys are riding around, they will frequently hear people scream, “What happened to your other wheel?” to which the riders will smartly reply, “It fell behind the fridge” or “We got it at a half-off sale.”

But, at the end of the day, they don’t mind the attention.

“I actually get a kick out of it,” says Malcolm.


That was great coverage! The only part I noticed that was a little off was the part about Kris Holm “first popularizing” it and being first to mass-produce.

Though depending on your criteria, the mass production part might be true. There were other MUnis before the KHs, but most were either handmade, or cobbled together from mass-produced parts for “street” unis.

Anyway, Kris is just pusing the state of the art in the manufacturing end. I just got my first Fusion seat today, and it’s a thing of beauty!

Yeah, there’s maybe one other: “The thick wheel on the unicycle permits riders to leap up to 90 centimeters in the air.”

My thick wheel sure as hell doesn’t permit ME to leap up to 90 centimeters in the air, and as far as I can tell from the record books, “riders” is an exaggeration by at least one.

I’m thinkin’ that maybe it’s not the thick wheel that permits it.

Re: Unicycles on front page of town paper!

On Fri, 4 Feb 2005 21:47:17 -0600, “johnfoss” wrote:

>The only part I noticed that was a little off
>was the part about Kris Holm “first popularizing” it and being first to

Also, Kris is a geologist, not a microbiologist.

And a linguistic comment: the phrase “steep learning curve” is used
the wrong way around. A learning curve is a plot of accomplishment
versus time put in. If it is steep, you accomplish a lot in a
relatively short time, i.e. you learn fast. English is not my native
tongue but I think the confusion may stem from the word “steep” being
used in the USA for “difficult”?

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

It’s impossible to get old when you ride a unicycle - John (what’s in a name) Childs

Re: Here is the story which ran as well:

Just curious if you bicycle or unicycle to work.

Re: Re: Unicycles on front page of town paper!

I have noticed this error several times in the past few months, not necessarily in this forum. You are correct, Klaas - a shallow learning curve means it takes a lot of time and practice to gain skill, whereas a steep learning curve gains you ground quickly.

The confusion appears to come from the notion that steeper slopes require more force per unit time, as though one has to try harder to make the same gain. Although there is some truth to this as well, it is an improper use of the phrase.

Excellent article, and good press!

Great press. I’m sure the KH references were also put in because he is also Canadian.

Klaas and Dave are correct that when plotting progress over time the “curve” is flat. Perhaps to make the plot match the common analogy of steep learning curve we should swap the x & y axes. :thinking:

Re: Re: Re: Unicycles on front page of town paper!

I also see that error often. Getting people to use the terms “steep learning curve” and “shallow/flat learning curve” correctly is a lost cause. It would probably be better to use a term like “easy learning curve” or “hard learning curve” instead. That avoids the confusion.

Getting the general public to correctly use and understand the term “steep learning curve” is a lost cause. Even if you use the term correctly people will misunderstand it and get the opposite impression of what you intended to say.

I just say that the learning curve is shaped like the seat.

Yea, the reporter got a little carried away about that. I guess that was partly what I meant by “got most of his facts correct”. The reporter liked that Kris Holm was a Canadian (for obvious reasons).

Actually, I usually walk to work to work since it’s only about 2 minutes by foot. However, I just happened to take the unicycle in to work to show my boss the day we were interviewed, and passed the reporter.

I understand what you are saying here (and it would appear lots of others agree with you!). While not technically correct, I imagine everyone will take it the way it was meant (i.e. “hard to learn”). But, I’ll be careful how I say it in the future…thanks!

Thanks to everyone else for your comments as well. We were pretty pleased with the article and press concerning unicycling. As far as we know, we’re the only unicyclists in town…however, the reporter actually sounded pretty interested in learning. We’ll have to see what transpires with that!