When I was 13, I traded a pirated copy of a computer game for a unicycle. The thing had a goofy small wheel, had to have been well under 20". The thing wasn’t in a great state when I got it but I “rode” it until it was completely trashed. Which is to say I learned and gave the thing the coup de gras in the process. By this time, I wasn’t a great rider. It was at that point I had a few bucks on hand and was going to buy either a skateboard or a unicycle. I figured a mediocre unicyclist was far more impressive than a mediocre skateboarder.
Could it have been a plan by your parents to encourage you to learn the unicycle?
I can picture that being true if they spent a chunk of change on it and then you didn’t act interested. But hey, you were five. Also did it really say “Mr. Great” on it or something? Never heard of that one.
I like how you described that process. I kind of did the same with the piece of junk I learned on. The brand was Troxel (from Sears or Montgomery Ward) and it had a 16" solid plastic tire. I didn’t kill it; it died from being used. Being made of tricycle components, it wasn’t up to the challenge of supporting the full weight of a 14-year old…
Yes it did say Mr Great on the front, it has a face like a blown up latex glove and said Mr. Great at the bottom. Its yellow, and I can still ride it. My father rode when he was younger and I honestly forget why I was grounded, but it might have had something to do with it John.
My kids were in the Panther Pride Unicycle Team while attending North Bend Elementary near Seattle, WA. I’d seen some kid ride when I was about that age and had always wondered if I could learn. This was my chance! At 47 years old I risked looking ridiculous but I stuck with it. Practices were tough for a few months but it eventually clicked. Expert advice and encouragement from the coaches and kids made the process a joy.
I don’t seem to have contributed to either of the previous threads - maybe that’s because I’m always a bit stumped by the “why did you start riding” question. For as long as I can remember it’s always been something I fancied doing, but I’m really not quite sure why - I guess it just looked fun, and it’s also the sort of thing I do (a lot of sports requiring relatively high levels of skill and balance - right now I’m doing lots of inline and roller skating! - and I’m also not particularly into the idea of having to grow up) Though by the time I got around to it I’d also seen muni videos on youtube which I found inspiring - probably Kris Holm, but could have been somebody else. I certainly remember thinking I’d never be capable of even the relatively simple muni riding I do now do!
As for how, when and how long, the local Lidl supermarket was selling them for £35 (about $35 at current exchange rates I think - though was nearer $50 at the time!) and given my partner had always reckoned I’d never get round to learning so had refused to buy me one for my birthday I thought it was worth a punt and not much lost if it just sat in the garage. Which is mostly what it did for the first year - I guess I tried about once or twice a month and of course never got far. Eventually after about a year I decided I either needed to learn how to ride or get rid of it (though other factors included that I’d been made redundant and had lots of time, and had also had a bit of a breakdown and largely stopped doing all the sports I had been, so looking for something fun). It took me about 2 weeks to get to the point where I’d describe myself as being able to ride, with an hour or so of solid practice every day. So it either took me a year or two weeks, though given I couldn’t really do anything with it at the start of those 2 weeks I tend to quote the latter. That was about 5 and a half years ago, at the age of 41.
A friend offered his new 19" wheel for me to try. I turned him down.
A year later just after yet another back injury he offered again. This time I had just come from the doctor and was told I needed to do more for my core to help my back. This time I took the uni. Two weeks later I bought it from him.
I’ve been riding for 3 years now and it took me 20 hours till I could ride a 100’.
I went from a 19" to 26" to 29" to 29+.
Now I’m riding a handlebarred KH29 with a 30" Maxx Minion and can now have “no dab rides” when I’m feeling good.
Now I’m a muni preacher because of how good it makes me feel.
When I was 12 years old I didn’t know what I wanted for Christmas. “Santa” gave me a little 19" Uni that year and I was determined to learn how to ride. I started watching Kris Holm videos and decided to put a mountain bike tire on it and hit the trails. Upgraded to a Nimbus 24" Muni at 14 and still ride it to this day.
I started unicycling because it was something to do and continue to ride because it’s so unbelievably fun!
Pretty sure I contributed to one of the previous threads but too lazy to click through or search, so I’ll write anew…
Having been way into mountain biking and particularly freeride mtb in its beginnings, I had seen Kris Holm in a few MTB videos in the late 90’s (the ones with the heavy metal music, too lazy to look it up-- ok just did and I thought it was older but says Kris Holm was in New World Disorder II - Fat Tire Fury, October 2001). But upon seeing the videos I thought it looked really interesting but really had no idea how one would go about getting into it (i.e. I didn’t actually see any live people around riding).
Fast forward about 10 years to a time when I was really into Freeride/Downhill mountain biking and I went on an 8-day Freeride MTB trip in the French Alps to Porte Solei/Les Gets/Chamberie (my French is horrible) and after a great first day it rained for 6 days straight (and snowed in July too). The first rainy day we put on rain gear and tried to ride but by the end of the day it was just too wet and muddy. Then we spent one day copued up in our vacation house playing cards and whatnot. Then we went into the little towns and viliages. Walking along one cobblestone street I saw a guy riding and hopping on a 24" knobby-tired unicycle. He saw me looking and asked me if I wanted a go. It turns out he was the owner of a trials mountain bike shop but also had trials and mountain unicycles. I sat on it for a while holding on the the handrail, and he tried to sell it to me. I asked if I could rent it for the week and worked out a deal.
I spent the next 3 days in the parking garage, and by the end of the trip I could ride straight ahead, make some turns and kind of navigate from obstacle to obstacle (columns in the parking garage or the fence railing). I went back to the shop and instead bought the unicylce (still have the Koxx 24").
Interestingly I rode quite a bit for about a year-and-a-half and even met some other local unicyclsts and made it to two organized events (German Muni Trial Weekend) and improved and was good enough to do some muni on my local XC trails and in the mountains. But then somehow kind of got out of it. The biggest factor was definitley that all of my friends were still mountain biking, so I was mostly riding muni alone.
Anyway, go foward about 5 years and a work colleage who together with her husband was learning to unicycle and ride muni one day realizes that I also unicycle. Ended up riding with them a lot and they were really motivated and riding a lot and also weren’t into mountain biking. That got me interested again. Now the last 3-4 years I’ve been really hooked and always prefer to go unicycling than mountain biking (unless I have to with my mountain bike friends)! I particularly love it because of the continual challenge and because I continue to progress at a maybe-somehwat reducing slope but nevertheless linear progression!! (no plateu and lack of progression like in most sports!) At any point in the last 4 years I can look back 2-4 months and the improvement is so substantial that a few months before I could hardly contemplate riding things that I can. (e.g. I am now riding super-steep technical downhill on a 29+ on trails and cleaning 150 degree switchbacks that 2 years ago I coudn’t have imagined riding on a 24"!).
And the events are great: Seattle Muni Weekend 2015, Colorado Muni Weekend in Winter Park and Elsbet in Lichtenstein in 2016 and thus far planned for 2017: Villach Muni/Race Tounier in Italy and ODM in Germany in June, plus Karwendel Muni Weekend in October! Haven’t made it to a Unicon yet…
I learned when I was about 40. I never gave unicycling a thought before that and knew absolutely nothing about it. I read somewhere that “if you can learn to ride a unicycle, you can learn to do anything”. That seemed like a good enough reason. I didn’t keep track of how long it took to learn but I’m guessing that “average of 15 hours of practicing” is pretty close.
Before I took up unicycling, my hobby for a few years was playing kendama, the Japanese ball and cup skill toy. I was introduced to kendama in 1995 while visiting Japan. A few years ago found an old kendama in a box, and started playing with it. I was pretty terrible. Then I watched some youtube videos of expert kendama players. Something clicked in my brain; I realized that, if I wanted to improve, I would have practice. I told myself, “This is hard, and it’s going to take time and patience.”
I introduced kendama to the students at the school where I taught, and kendama playing ended up becoming a “thing”. Some of my students were crazy good. In every case, the students improved with sustained, focused practice. Kendama playing was a brief fad; it’s currently deader than a doornail in my neighborhood.
A few years later, I saw some unicycle videos. I had the same thought: “I can learn this, but it’s going to take perseverance.” I was a pretty slow learner; I arbitrarily defined “riding” as being able to ride the 1/4 mile loop of my neighborhood without dismount. It took me about 6 weeks of more than 1hr/day practice to get there.
I am a grade school instrumental music teacher. The successful students are the ones willing to delay gratification and “figure it out.” Unfortunately, some students’ sense of accomplishment is based on playing video games; those students may lack the patience to learn something as difficult as unicycling.
So, the short answer is: to prove that I could do something difficult. Since I started, I’ve discovered many other benefits, as well. I have not been so successful at encouraging others to unicycle, however!
I saw unicycling in a parade when I was 3, and I had already learned to bike, so I was on the lookout for another challenge. 5 years later I moved to North Bend WA, where the PPUT practiced. I learned to ride there and I’ve been riding for almost 7 years now.
I started riding in 1986 out of sheer boredom while visiting my grandparents for the summer in a small town with nothing else to do. I found my cousin’s old Schwinn, unused and untouched (naturally), and just started messing around with it. By the end of the week, I was freemounting it and riding it down the street. Don’t really know the total hours spent, but it was pure fun, and I was very thankful for something to keep me occupied.
i started 1981 building a unicycle from bike trash with a friend.
i think it was his idea, but he said it was mine:p
after a week one uni was not enough for us 2 and we build a second one wich still exists.
after a while most of our firends start to ride. some of them build their own unis some were build by us.
unicycling is one of the most important things in life and i am very happy i do
I was 47 (1 year ago) and had quit a 33 year smokeless tobacco habit the year before. I was running almost daily to combat the incessant cravings but my knees hated it so I switched to biking. After about 6 months of biking I was getting totally bored with it. I knew if I slacked off on biking I’d want tobacco again so this idea popped into my head to try unicycling. I bought 2 used Torkers (20, 24) off of Craigslist. I asked the guy why he was selling them and he said to get money to buy a mountain unicycle. I was like “WTF??”. Took me a month to ride 100 ft. At 3 months I bought my first 27.5 Muni. At 9 months I bought a 29 geared uni. Uni helped me give up alcohol and soda as well. I havent had a drop of alcohol in over a year and am still tobacco free. I ride 30miles per week, normally 10 miles ea, 3-4x per week all over the neighborhood, and Muni. Dropped 20 lbs and am in the best shape of my life at 48. Now if I could just stop straining spraining my wrists and ankles I’d ride more. Oh, my 9 year old son can now ride a mile without falling, my 6 year old is learning, 3 people in the neighborhood have started riding uni. I ride, smile and wave doing my part to promote the sport. Most people smile and wave, kids love it, dogs absolutely hate us. Lol
Cool sotry Rob. With that kind of initiative there’s not much chance of getting bored with unicycling… if you haven’t already dabbled a litte, muni is immensely fun and the challenges just keep coming don’t know that exact part of Colorado but should be trails nearby and within a short distance you’ve got all kinds of trails and challenges (rode in Salida and Beuna Vista last summer with some great muni trails).
I guess without knowing I may have influenced someone to try unicyling as so many people see me every week, but as far as I know, haven’t been yet able to motivate anyone else (barring family) – my 5 year-old is close to learning and rides on the hand. So very cool that you’ve also been able to get others into the sport.