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  • Unicyclist smashes world record
    by Maggie McNaughton
    245 Words
    24 October 2006
    New Zealand Herald
    (c) 2006 The New Zealand Herald

    ``It's not just for clowns,'' says unicycle shop owner Tony Welton. ``You've also got to have the desire to want to learn, and a lot of persistence.''

    Mr Welton was in Auckland for the fourth annual Unicycle Weekend, during which teenager Peter van Boekhout smashed two records.

    In the long-jump event, he jumped 2.8m, beating the world mark by 25cm.

    And in the high jump, he jumped 90cm, breaking the New Zealand record by 10cm.

    ``It was an awesome weekend ... and I'm really pleased with my records,'' the 17-year-old said.

    The event, held in different locations around Auckland over Labour weekend, brought together 35 unicycle enthusiasts from throughout the country for a variety of competitions.

    Mr van Boekhout, who is in his final year at Waimea College in Nelson, has been unicycling for 21/2 years.

    ``My friend bought one and I learned off him. It's really cool and different and quite an adrenalin rush,'' he said.

    And he revealed he is no stranger to breaking unicycle records. At last year's event, he broke the New Zealand long-jump record.

    Mr Welton described Mr van Boekhout as a ``very talented rider''.

    He said unicycling had become popular in New Zealand in the past four years or so.

    Being a good unicyclist was not all about balance, he said. Participants also needed to be dedicated and practise a lot.
    Raphael Lasar

    To Plotz is Human
    To Shvitz Divine



      outdoor extremes
      One-track mind
      Unicyclist sets new standard with mountain excursions
      By Jason Blevins
      Denver Post Staff Writer
      Article Last Updated:10/23/2006 11:15:54 PM MDT

      Aspen - After a recent 100-mile road-riding tour in Moab, a trio of lonely pro riders tapped their unused autograph pens on their stacks of posters and stared across the parking lot at the throngs surrounding Mike Tierney, who had only ridden a metric century (65 miles) on that fall day.

      Everyone wanted his picture. They wanted a high-five. They wanted to slap his back. Exchange a few words. Bask in the noblesse of the one-wheeled wizard.

      "It's always like that. It's a total clown show whenever I ride," said Tierney, Colorado's patriarch of mountain unicycling, who has redefined what is possible on one wheel. "People are finally starting to equate unicycling with athletic endeavor. In the past, not long ago really, it was something from the circus."

      Tierney, a 47-year-old father of two from Aspen and Colorado's first ski patroller certified to patrol on telemark skis, has simply moved the circus to the hills. When he's riding, he is the circus.

      "It's one of the only things I've done in my life that makes people smile," said Tierney, who bears a distracting resemblance to a younger, much healthier Blue, the ill-fated, rubber-faced character from the movie "Old School."

      "Unicycling brings universal happiness. People are totally blown away."

      Tierney is an Aspen legend, known across the Roaring Fork Valley for his one-wheeled exploits. He's ridden 25 of Colorado's mountain passes and plans to finish the rest next summer. He's ridden 80-mile days, including a 10,000-vertical-foot loop this summer traversing from Copper Mountain over Vail Pass, Battle Mountain Pass, Tennessee Pass and Fremont Pass back to Copper. He's climbed Mount Evans with his 36-inch wheeled road uni, stunning wary race directors. He's garnered all sorts of national unicycling titles. He's forged a path for hundreds, maybe thousands, of unicyclists pedaling their sport from circus-tented obscurity to a full-blown adrenaline and adventure sport.

      "There is no equal to him in terms of racing or long-distance, high-endurance rides," said Rolf Thompson, a 37-year unicyclist and organizer of the 7-year-old Moab Mountain Unicycling Festival. "Whenever he races, he's always at least 20 percent ahead of the second-place finisher. Some of the high-altitude rides he's done just blow me away. He's perfected that aspect like nobody I know.

      "He is a world-class athlete and, as far as I know, there is not anyone in the United States who can do what he can do on a unicycle."

      This past summer Tierney quietly registered among the hundreds of two-wheelers for the Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hillclimb, a 28-mile grunt that climbs more than 6,700 feet and pummels two-wheeled, 21-geared riders.

      "It was so funny to see Mike ride by me that morning," said race organizer Beth Wrenn-Estes. "We were absolutely amazed when his category started and he rode by us that morning. I actually think I had my mouth open."

      New generation of riders

      Starting with his 16-year-old son Logan and 13-year-old daughter Lily, Tierney has instilled the uni-vibe in countless kids - young and old - in the Roaring Fork Valley. A new wave of younger riders has taken Tierney's spirit of one-wheeled adventure and merged it with a page from the skateboarding book to start pushing unicycling into new realms. Where Tierney hammered new ground in the previously unheard of world of long-distance, endurance unicycling, a younger set today is forging a new school in trick and street unicycling.

      The jumping and twirling trend mirrors that of terrain park skiers and street skaters, who changed the direction of their sport through above-ground gymnastic exploration.

      And like other action and adventure sports, technology has enabled the new school. Beefy tires, a surprisingly recent innovation in unicycling, provide the suspension and softness needed for the repeated hopping that lead to aerial tricks. Burly forks and cranks have opened doors long shuttered by unicycling's historically dainty equipment.

      "Two years ago we saw guys like Mike showing us the possibility of long road trips," said Kayo Ogilby, head of the science department at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale and instructor for the school's nascent mountain unicycling class. "Now, with the fat tires allowing us to ride with the seat low enough to hop, we're seeing a real explosion in the street riding. It's becoming a session sport."

      It's a lifestyle

      It warms Tierney's heart to see more people unicycling. He thinks every kid should be required to learn unicycling. The core strength and balance needed for unicycling carries over to any physical activity. But even though his son Logan has become a bunny-hopping street rider, Tierney will always lean toward the uphill, pedaling for hours up massive mounds and working just as hard on longer descents.

      "On a unicycle, you are always pedaling. On long rides, I go deep inside and find this 'Zen state of the now"' he said. "It all comes together and it really is quite pleasant even though you are suffering. That's my sanctuary. I feel at ease with the world. It feels like where I need to be at that time."

      It's in his nature to take the hardest road. He works on skis with his heels unlocked and rides for hours on a one-wheeled bike that doesn't allow for coasting.

      "I think I've always chosen the hardest path," he said. "Probably has something to do with finding greater satisfaction. The deeper the pain, the deeper the reward."
      Last edited by Fenrir2; 2006-10-24, 03:22 PM.


      • Hands free! Cyclists go solo for MS charity
        260 Words
        24 October 2006
        Bristol Evening Post
        Copyright (c) 2006 Bristol Evening Post & Press Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

        More than 20 unicyclists took part in a fun charity challenge along the Bristol to Bath cycle path.

        Organiser Richard Granville and 21 others on the one-wheeled machines started at St Philip's in Bristol and finished in Bath.

        The 14-mile trip took four hours and involved constant pedalling by the participants, to keep their unicycles upright.

        Mr Granville, 27, of Westbury Park, and his housemate Ross Grummett, also 27, only took up unicycling two months ago.

        Now they have completed their challenge and raised more than 2,000 for charity. They decided to hold the event in aid of the MS Society because they knew some people with the condition.

        Mr Granville, a web designer, said: "It went very well, it was quite dry to begin with, but at the end we got quite wet. It was somewhat exhausting, and took us four hours.

        "It all began when Ross managed to obtain a free unicycle, so we started practising in our kitchen. We set ourselves the challenge of unicycling from Bristol to Bath, and as time went on, more and more people got interested."

        He explained how he managed to stay on a unicycle for so long.

        "It's about keeping your centre of gravity steady, twisting your hips, and keeping a constant speed on the pedals. That meant we had to keep pedalling the whole way, unlike on a normal bike.

        "Kids absolutely loved it, though, and some people looked at us as if we were completely mad."
        Raphael Lasar

        To Plotz is Human
        To Shvitz Divine


        • One-track mind Unicyclist sets new standard with mountain excursions
          Jason Blevins, Denver Post Staff Writer
          994 Words
          24 October 2006
          Denver Post
          2006 Denver Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights reserved.

          Nevermind, already posted above with picture.
          Last edited by JJuggle; 2006-10-25, 12:47 PM.
          Raphael Lasar

          To Plotz is Human
          To Shvitz Divine


          • Unicyclists roll into Leola
            John Jascoll
            515 Words
            25 October 2006
            Lancaster New Era/Intelligencer Journal/Sunday News
            Copyright (c) 2006 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

            The area's one-wheeled cycling event of the year took place Sunday afternoon when more than 25 unicyclists and their families gathered at Leola Elementary School for the fourth annual "Tour de Leola."

            The event was organized by the County of Lancaster Unicycle Balancers, a organization made up of unicycle enthusiasts of all ages who delight in practicing their one-wheeled balancing skills and training for parades and competitions.

            The afternoon's rides included two routes: a 21/2-mile tour through the Maples development and a more challenging 41/2-mile ride up to Center Square Road and back.

            There also were relays, an obstacle course and jumping events in the school parking lot.

            CLUB president Sam Gruss said the main purpose of the tour was to have fun.

            "We invite the riders out to have a good time and enjoy themselves," Gruss said. "It's not a race, it's just for fun."

            Gruss said unicycling can be started at any age, although the younger you are the easier it is to learn. He said unicycling has a special attraction over bicycling.

            "I guess because it's unusual. It's hard to learn, and it's not something you just pick up and do," he said. "It takes some practice and time to learn it, but once you get it it's a feeling of accomplishment."

            Twelve-year-old Meghan Smith said this was the third year she participated in the tour. She said she took up in unicycling because "It's a real neat thing to do and not many people can do it."

            "It was tough in the beginning but after learning how to actually ride, learning the tricks wasn't that bad," Meghan

            "You have to have more confidence in yourself than learning to ride a bike."

            This was confirmed by Jonathan Martin, a 14-year-old eighth- grader at Conestoga Valley Middle School.

            Jonathan said he's been unicycling for three years.

            "I took it up because my brother Jeremiah started doing it and it looked kinda fun," Jonathan said. "And then we started doing parades and all that good stuff. I thought it was pretty cool."

            Jonathan said he and Jeremiah and their younger brother Joshua join other CLUB members every Thursday evening for practice at Lutheran Church on Quarry Road.

            Leola resident Vicky Steffy is a unicycle mom who doesn't ride herself but has three children who do: Morgan, 12, Mitchell, 10, and Monica, 8.

            Vicky and her husband, Tom, like it because it's something they can all get involved in as a family.

            "Lots of sports are very age-oriented, with this child is in this sport over at this field, while that child's at another field," Steffy said. "But because unicycling involves all ages, then we're all at one place. It's wonderful.

            "They all have the same practice and the same game or event, which makes it easier for us as parents," she said. "That's one of our favorite things about it."
            Raphael Lasar

            To Plotz is Human
            To Shvitz Divine


            • Corrections & clarifications
              149 Words
              26 October 2006
              New Zealand Herald
              (c) 2006 The New Zealand Herald

              Unicycle shop owner Tony Melton's name was misspelled Welton in a story on Tuesday.
              Raphael Lasar

              To Plotz is Human
              To Shvitz Divine


              • A wheely good day had by all
                26 October 2006
                Bath Chronicle
                (c) 2006 Bath Newspapers Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

                Twenty people reached the end of the Bristol to Bath cycle path sodden wet but elated on Sunday afternoon.

                They had travelled by unicycles for more than four hours to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

                Bristol-based mountain bike riders Ross Grimmett and Richard Granville, both 27, organised the Bristoltobathonaunicycle event.

                Mr Granville, who said they had raised more than 2,000, added: "MS is a cause close to our hearts. It's generally diagnosed in your mid-20s, so it's a young person's disease.

                "We're mountain bikers and we're pretty fit but our legs are aching; on a unicycle you cannot stop peddling. Squidgy wet leaves caused a bit of a problem, too."

                Mr Grimmett added: "The support bike lost a pedal but the unicycles were fine and there were no punctures."

                The event was inspired by a broken unicycle the pair fixed up and then got hooked on riding.

                At the same time, across the city at Royal Victoria Park, the crowd was thinning out and organisers packing up after a Bike Active family day.

                More than 100 people had turned out to ride around a route marked by traffic cones and hay bales.

                Speed was not the point - the event was non-competitive and gave people a chance for a traffic-free ride.

                Champion mountain bike trial rider Martin Hawyes spent the day demonstrating tricks on a purpose-built course which soon became slippery. "It was pretty treacherous," he admitted.

                "But the response was good and I like the concept of getting people active on their bikes. I've been riding all my life."

                Andy Cook from the Government-backed agency British Cycling said Bath was the fifth and final city to take part in Bike Active and had provided the best location.

                "It's about getting active. Around 2.2 million bikes are sold each year and most sit disused in sheds and garages.

                "This was about getting these out in a traffic-free environment. Bath was great in terms of numbers and atmosphere," said Mr Cook.

                Sponsored by Tesco, the event was part of British Cycling's Everyday Cycling initiative.
                Raphael Lasar

                To Plotz is Human
                To Shvitz Divine


                • LOOK MUM, NO FEET
                  158 Words
                  27 October 2006
                  Dominion Post
                  2006 Fairfax New Zealand Limited. All Rights Reserved.

                  Peter van Boekhout jumps for joy after unicycling himself into the record books and on to the world stage.

                  Peter, 17, returned home to Nelson this week from the New Zealand Unicycle Weekend in Auckland, where he set a new world long-jump record and a New Zealand high-jump record. He achieved 2.8 metres in the long-jump and 90cm in the high-jump. "I was totally pumped to do that," he said.

                  Competition organiser Nick Petrenko said news of Peter's achievement had spread throughout the unicycling world. His skill came from "natural talent, lots of practice and determination", he said.

                  Peter, a pupil at Waimea College, said unicycling was increasingly popular in New Zealand, with 30 riders competing in Auckland. He hoped to go to the world championships in Denmark in 2008, though it was more likely he would wait till 2012, when the competition might be in New Zealand.
                  Raphael Lasar

                  To Plotz is Human
                  To Shvitz Divine


                  • Serious unicyclists plan public displays
                    308 Words
                    8 November 2006
                    Otago Daily Times
                    Copyright 2006 Allied Press Limited. All Rights Reserved.

                    Tom Muir is hooked on unicycling.

                    Tom (13) set up the Oamaru Unicycle Club several months ago with fellow unicycle enthusiast Chris Hay (13).

                    A pupil at Oamaru Intermediate School, Tom spied a unicycle club while living in Palmerston North last year and learnt how to ride.

                    When he moved to Oamaru, he decided to set up a club with the aim of meeting more unicycle enthusiasts and sharing knowledge.

                    It now boasts six members and more are welcome.

                    There was no real trick to learning how to ride a unicycle; just practice, Tom said.

                    "There\'s not really that many things someone who already knows how to ride can help you with."

                    Josh Lee (15) is the club\'s main "trickster". He has been riding for about six months.

                    The club meets every Saturday near the Awamoa tennis courts and members either go for a ride or play games.

                    Unicycle sumo, in which the aim is to push people off their cycles while remaining balanced, is a particular favourite.

                    The unicycles always attract plenty of stares from passers-by.

                    Tom said he was in awe of professional unicyclists who could do some "pretty gnarly jumps".

                    "If you see pro-unicycling videos, you\'ll see we\'re really just amateurs.

                    "I don\'t know if I\'ll ever get that good, but I\'ll keep practising and learning new things."

                    While he still enjoys riding his "normal" two-wheeled cycle, he does not ride it as much now.

                    The club intends sharing its skills with the public at the Victorian fete in the town\'s historic precinct later this month.

                    As well as seeing the club give a display, people will be welcome to attempt to ride a unicycle.

                    The club also hopes to ride in the Oamaru Christmas Parade in December.
                    Raphael Lasar

                    To Plotz is Human
                    To Shvitz Divine


                    • 'Unicycle Girl'
                      C; Lifestyle
                      COLLEEN STEFFEN
                      765 Words
                      3 November 2006
                      The Star Press
                      (c) Copyright 2006, The Star Press, Munice. All Rights Reserved.

                      MUNCIE -- A few weeks ago, before it got cold, Ball State's regular Friday-afternoon Four Square players were bouncing their rubber ball just outside Bracken Library, yelling out rule disputes, laughing and teasing each other, when the game unexpectedly froze mid-play.

                      "Unicycle Girl!" someone shouted.

                      A cute brown-haired girl in a tube top and hoodie and an enormous book-stuffed backpack had appeared at the top of the handicap ramp, impossibly balanced on a tiny bicycle seat atop a single wheel. The Four Square players let their ball roll to a stop on the concrete and cheered.

                      Courtney Hitson simply smiled and waved and rolled off toward the parking lot.

                      It was just another day of getting around campus for the 21-year-old from Fishers. She's been unicycling since she was 7, when she saw a unicycle in the J.C. Penney catalog and circled it with a red pen. "I thought it was weird, so I had to have it," she says. "I'd never seen it before."

                      When it appeared Christmas morning, it was too big for her, and her dad had to duct tape wooden blocks to the pedals. Courtney started riding it in the kitchen, hanging onto the counters. That summer, she rode outside using ski poles to balance herself.

                      "It was sooo slow learning," she says.

                      But in less than a year she was pedaling all over her cul-de-sac.

                      Jump to her senior year at Ball State, where she's studying creative writing and psychology, and Courtney's lost none of her interest in mastering the unicycle. Sure, she can stay on her seat loaded down with books on slick, leaf-covered sidewalks, but freestyle or trick unicycling is now her big ambition. Don't know what that looks like?

                      "Just watch online," says Courtney. YouTube has tons of videos showing masters (and some goofballs) in action. So far she's practiced her way up to a No. 3 skill level out of 10 -- "I can't go backwards yet," she says.

                      For all her unicycling passion, Courtney only recently started riding her unicycle on campus. Self-consciousness kept her using more expected modes of transportation.

                      "I was afraid people would stare at me," she says -- apparently a well-founded fear. Just carrying her unicycle through the Atrium recently caused a twitter of interest to spread across the dining room. "Is that a unicycle?" one young man asked his neighbor, nudging him with an elbow to look.

                      But this year, soft-spoken Courtney put her fears aside and began unicycling to campus from her apartment off University Avenue two or three times a week, ignoring negative comments ("Get a real bike!) and smiling at positive ones ("That's awesome!") and mostly wearing headphones so she can just concentrate on doing her own thing.

                      "It's weird to see her riding around and to see people react, just because I know her as Courtney, not as the Unicycle Girl," says her friend, BSU senior Daniel Bailey. "It's especially weird when I'm walking with her and she's on her unicycle. People always make "wooo" sounds, and it's a bit strange to see that attention focused on her.

                      "She doesn't ride her unicycle to get attention. She just likes to ride it."

                      Sophomore Jill Blocker recently helped do an audio-visual story about Courtney for the online Ball State publication Ball Bearings. She found Courtney to be an intensely creative person who wants to go on to graduate school and become a writing teacher. In that light, maybe unicycling is just another outlet, another form of self-expression, and that accounts for why a seemingly shy person does something to put herself everyday into an uncomfortable spotlight.

                      "That's kind of creative in itself," says Jill.

                      As Courtney explains it, unicycling is just fun.

                      "It's like riding a bike, ... but you can feel yourself balance all the time," she says. "It's just something I enjoy. There's so much to learn, you never get bored."

                      And as a result, neither do her fellow campus commuters.

                      "She's become a sort of minor folk hero on Ball State's campus, kind of like Happy Friday Guy," says her friend Daniel. "It's totally unexpected and causes people to take their minds off of whatever they're currently thinking about."

                      Contact assistant lifestyles editor Colleen Steffen at 213-5852.

                      Learn more about unicycling


             (type "unicycling" into the search engine)

                      JJuggle's Edit: Link to Ballbearings feature on Courtney Hitson:
                      Last edited by JJuggle; 2006-11-07, 01:53 PM.
                      Raphael Lasar

                      To Plotz is Human
                      To Shvitz Divine


                      • Youtube video clip is popular
                        198 Words
                        9 November 2006
                        Cheddar Valley Gazette
                        (c) 2006 Cheddar Valley Gazette

                        I was very disappointed when I read your short report last week about how YouTube could be responsible for youths doing "silly" things.

                        Your picture shows a male on a unicycle going down the Gorge and implies that he is dodging traffic, but a majority of the cars were parked.

                        I am also slightly annoyed that you jumped to conclusions. You made readers think that this basic act was done just to be viewed on the internet.

                        You should not print things unless you know they are true.

                        The male shown is, in fact, my brother and his friend was filming him doing a sport for his A-level coursework. They decided later to put it on the internet after many people had said that it was amusing and well made.

                        My brother knew what he was doing and would never do anything that would put himself or others in danger.

                        The short video clip has proved very popular and YouTube is a brilliant, harmless website.

                        In future I would appreciate it if you didn't write bad reports about things you don't know much about. Thank you.

                        Natasha A, aged 12

                        JJuggle's Edit: The video in question.
                        Last edited by JJuggle; 2006-11-10, 01:36 PM.
                        Raphael Lasar

                        To Plotz is Human
                        To Shvitz Divine


                        • Mike Tierney not only sends us the best photos, he even gets stunning photos in new newspaper coverage!

                          Here's some big props for MUni in the Riverside, CA area from yesterday. The photos are by me.

                          One-Wheel Wonderful

                          MUni riding is about fun, exercise and proving anything is possible

                          11:02 AM PST on Thursday, November 9, 2006

                          By MIRJAM SWANSON
                          The Press-Enterprise

                          What the heck?

                          You've been mountain biking. Perhaps you even tried to ride a unicycle. But... mountain unicycling?

                          Slideshow: MUni - Mountain Unicycling

                          It's for real. Something like 200 "MUni" riders throughout California meet up regularly to explore trails and other off-road hotspots in places ranging from Fontana to Moab, Utah, on their big, bad unicycles.

                          And they turn heads just about every time.

                          "The most common things we hear from mountain bikers is, 'Now I've seen everything!'" said John Foss, the man who's known as the Grandfather of MUni, having started "off-road" pedaling in 1979, as a 17-year-old when he learned to ride his unicycle on the dirt street where he lived.

                          Since then, the sport has progressed a long way -- in terms of participation; equipment (comfortable seats, lighter frames and fat, knobby tires); and styles of riding (there's trial riding, street riding, street freestyle riding and straight-up MUni riding).

                          Be assured, advanced MUni riders do not mess around.

                          "We look for the most technical, advanced trails," said Eyal Aharoni, president of the Santa Barbara Unicycle Club. "Anything a mountain biker could do, we look for. Big drops, steep drops, really rocky stuff.

                          "It usually takes some convincing that it's actually not impossible, but it's like anything: If you give it some practice, you'll get better at it."

                          MEET MUni

                          To stop: Just stop pedaling. A unicycle's pedals are attached directly to the axle -- no gears, no chain and (usually) no brakes. (Some new MUnis do have brakes, which are used more for easing a downhill ride than stopping.)

                          Changing gears: Can't. The equivalent to gears is wheel and crank size (cranks are what go between the axle and pedals). It's easy to pedal a small wheel with long cranks, but you can't go very fast. It's harder to pedal with a big wheel and small cranks, but you can go faster.

                          No need for speed: Most MUni riders average between 5 and 7 mph on long off-road rides (which is about half the speed of mountain bikers.)

                          Staying safe: Despite its treacherous appearance, it's not that dangerous: MUnicyclists can't coast out of control, and when they do wreck, they won't get tangled up in the bike -- they just step away from the wheel.

                          Source: Brett Bymaster's "Mini MUni page,"

                          WANNA RIDE?

                 Since 1999, the site has been a popular virtual store for MUnicyclists. Buy parts directly from the site or find local dealers.

                 The place to learn about MUni rides planned locally and beyond: "There's a high proportion of unicyclists that are also computer geeks," avid rider Eyal Aharoni said. "Once I was introduced to that community, I found out specific destinations for mountain riding and saw a lot of possibilities open up."

                          GO! A group of riders will meet at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Southridge Park in Fontana. They'll ride until they burn out.

                          OUTSMART YOUR FRIENDS

                          The 20th anniversary edition of Trivial Pursuit features this question: "What unlikely rough-terrain sport has earned the abbreviation 'MUni'?"

                          Reach Mirjam Swanson at
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by johnfoss; 2006-11-10, 09:23 PM.
                          John Foss

                          "Who is going to argue with a mom who can ride a unicycle?" -- Forums member "HiMo"


                          • Pedal power of one pays
                            Ingrid Bown
                            187 Words
                            23 November 2006
                            The Newcastle Herald
                            2006 Copyright John Fairfax Holdings Limited. Not available for re-distribution.

                            MICHAEL Cowan's calves will be impressive and he will be able to treat any resulting aches and pains.

                            The 35-year-old massage therapist will raise money for the Asthma Foundation on Saturday by riding 21 kilometres on a unicycle he bought 14 weeks ago.

                            "I still have a lot to learn but I'm confident I'll make the distance" he said yesterday. "The biggest issue will be the discomfort. I think I'll be bleeding for the foundation."

                            Mr Cowan has been practising for 30 minutes a day for the challenge.

                            "It took several weeks to go just a few metres," he said.

                            Mr Cowan said he decided to support the foundation because he had suffered from asthma throughout his life and wanted to raise awareness of the condition.

                            He has raised $10,000 in sponsorship for the ride, which will begin at his Mirrabooka clinic at 8am and finish at Morisset Mega Markets.

                            To sponsor the ride, call Mr Cowan on 0431 106 278.

                            Ingrid Bown
                            Raphael Lasar

                            To Plotz is Human
                            To Shvitz Divine


                            • A balancing act
                              330 Words
                              23 November 2006
                              Lake Macquarie News
                              Copyright 2006 News Ltd. All Rights Reserved

                              CONFRONTED with the challenge of a 21km bike ride for charity, Mirrabooka's Michael Cowan decided to up the ante by completing the trek on a unicycle.

                              Mr Cowan, himself an asthma sufferer, is planning the ride for Tuesday, November 28, to coincide with the Asthma Foundation NSW's summer appeal.

                              He has been riding his one-wheeled bike for just 10 weeks, after purchasing it on a whim, and said it required a lot of persistence

                              "I'd never ridden one before but I was sure I'd master it pretty easily," he said. "Boy, was I wrong!

                              "It took several days of trial and error before I could even go a few feet, and weeks before I could ride round without holding on to anything.

                              "It's the hardest thing I've ever tried.

                              "The longest ride I've done to date is 16km and I had to have a week off the unicycle afterwards, so 21km is a major challenge for me."

                              Mr Cowan has suffered from asthma for 31 of his 34 years, but has not let it stand in the way of his sporting interests, which include water skiing, swimming, mountain biking, running and sailing.

                              In 2005 he claimed first place in the Australian National Sports Boat titles.

                              Acting CEO of Asthma Foundation NSW, Megan Dephoff, said Mr Cowan proved asthma was no hindrance to an active life.

                              "Michael is a perfect example of what can be achieved by someone who has learned to control their asthma," Ms Dephoff said.

                              "Many Australian sporting heroes have proved over the years that asthma is no barrier to success."

                              Mr Cowan, who will depart Mirrabooka for Morisset Mega Markets at 8am on the day of the ride, is approaching local companies and individuals for sponsorship.

                              He has raised more than $2000 in pledges and hopes to raise up to $10,000.

                              He can be contacted on 0431 106 278.
                              Raphael Lasar

                              To Plotz is Human
                              To Shvitz Divine


                                406 Words
                                21 November 2006
                                The Evansville Courier
                                Copyright (c) 2006 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

                                Riding a unicycle is a rare enough skill -- try doing it while playing basketball.

                                That's just what King Charles Unicycle Troupe does, dribbling, passing and dunking on one wheel.

                                The entertainment act from New York City -- one of the favorite openers at the old Las Vegas Siegfried & Roy show -- is the newest attraction to this year's 73rd annual Hadi Shrine Circus.

                                "If you ever stop and think, you don't see unicycles anymore, plus to have the balance to bounce around a basketball and throw it up and make a shot," said Ken Wendt, who co-chairs publicity for the shriners.

                                The unicyclists are just one of the new acts at this year's circus, which runs from Thanksgiving Day to Sunday at Roberts Stadium. The event draws up to 50,000 spectators.

                                "That's one of the nice things about our circus," Wendt said. "Every year it's just a little different."

                                The Diamond Trio -- a husband, wife and daughter -- are a rolling skating team.

                                Arestov is an acrobat who balances on chairs and other objects.

                                "We haven't done that in a number of years," Wendt said.

                                There'll be dogs dressed up like pandas, doing tricks. There'll be bears and elephants and white tigers and chimps.

                                Cartoon character Jimmy Neutron of Nickelodeon network fame will have a meet-and-greet with the kids.

                                "That's big for the kids," said Brian Ball, public relations co- chair.
                                Raphael Lasar

                                To Plotz is Human
                                To Shvitz Divine