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  • Unicycle footballers take game up a notch
    Andrea Lorenz
    20 July 2008
    Austin American-Statesman
    © 2008 Austin American Statesman. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All Rights Reserved.

    Jay Janner photos AMERICAN-STATESMAN

    Michael Rowe of the Unicychos tries to pick up some yards against the Hot Dogs during the league's first Stupor Bowl, on July 13 in San Marcos.

    Unicychos member Alan Barnes, left, looks for a receiver during the Stupor Bowl in San Marcos. The Unicycle Football League, which started four months ago and has three teams, concluded its season July 13 with a championship game. The Hot Dogs won in overtime.

    Jay Janner photos AMERICAN-STATESMAN

    Marcus Garland, left, of the Hot Dogs knocks down Ray Decoux of the Unicychos. The players use flags instead of tackling, but that doesn't always prevent pileups and bruises.

    Jason Polasek dunks teammate Marcus Garland after the championship victory. The league is thinking of adding cheerleaders.

    Paul Malachi is decked out in his team's colors. Many of the players didn't ride unicycles before joining the league.

    SAN MARCOS - It was hot - really hot - as the Hot Dogs cinched the championship for the first unicycle football Stupor Bowl .

    Opposing team Unicychos blamed last week's loss on the brutal heat, the quarterback's dislocated shoulder and unwritten rules. They aren't "completely set in stone," said Unicycho player Pop.a.wheelie , who is known to family members and friends as William "Grant" Love.

    The Unicycle Football League started with a handful of people four months ago and has grown to three teams that play only in San Marcos. The best two played July 13 in the championship game, dubbed the Stupor Bowl. The game was complete with the national anthem and a halftime show by a local one-man band .

    The Hot Dogs were up 12 points at halftime, and although the Unicychos bounced back with a couple of touchdowns, league founder Marcus Garland fittingly scored the Hot Dogs' winning touchdown during overtime.

    A juggler for 20 years, Garland, who is known on the field as Larry Gunn, said he came up with the idea for the league years ago. "I dismissed the idea immediately," he said. He remembers thinking, "Where am I going to find all these unicycle riders?"

    Turns out, he didn't need to find unicyclists. Instead, most of the league's loyal players learned to unicycle specifically to join the league. Love taught himself to ride a one-wheeler in about 16 hours.

    The rules are similar to regular football, with a few exceptions. There are about half as many players on the "field" as in regular football . Players pull flags from opposing team members rather than tackle them, but unicycle football is by no means a noncontact sport. Collisions are frequent, and some players spend as much time on the ground as on the wheel. A referee broke up at least one pile of players trying to grasp the ball amid their tangled unicycles.

    Instead of a coin toss to start the championship game, there was a one-wheeled jousting contest that lasted less than two seconds because one of the players was knocked down by a boxing glove attached to the end of a broom handle.

    After touchdowns, the scoring team tried for an extra point through uni-sumo, in which two players try to shove each other out of a chalk circle or knock the other off balance.

    Garland has high hopes for the league, which plays in the parking lot of an abandoned gas station off the San Marcos square. He said he would like to create teams in Austin and elsewhere and travel to away games. Although all the current players are men, women are welcome, Garland said.

    There's talk of a cheerleading team, dubbed the "Unibwroadz" on the league's online forum. And they even have loyal fans.

    "Team Mom" Dottie Barnes watched her son, Corporal Punishment , also known as Alan , play quarterback for the Unicychos during the championship game.

    "The kid was never in Little League," she said of her 30-year- old son. "I wait until he's 30, and (I'm) team mom."

    Barnes said she doesn't fret when her son falls from his bike.

    "Most of the time, you fall forward on your feet or you fall backward on your feet."

    Only a couple of players wore helmets, knee or elbow pads last week. Love said players are looking for second-hand football pads to help prevent some injuries, such as the "torn up" hip he got from the championship game.

    Despite the bruises, and his team's loss, Love said he wouldn't miss next season.

    "Being a part of something, or a group or a team or whatever, it's really awesome," Love said. "It feels really good."

    alorenz@statesman.com;

    (512) 392-8750

    (BOX)

    Want to play?

    The Unicycle Football League in San Marcos is looking for teams and players for next season, which starts in the fall . Knowing how to unicycle or play football is not required. For more information, visit www.unicyclefootball.com. Want to play?

    The Unicycle Football League in San Marcos is looking for teams and players for next season, which starts in the fall. Knowing how to ride a unicycle or play football is not required. For more

    information, go to www.

    unicyclefootball.com.
    Raphael Lasar

    To Plotz is Human
    To Shvitz Divine

    Comment


    • Big wheels peddle one wheel; Unicycles gain interest
      James R. Johnson; Herald Staff Writer
      21 July 2008
      Grand Forks Herald
      Copyright 2008, NewsBank. All Rights Reserved.

      Carl Barrentine was going through a midlife crisis five years ago and needed a new challenge.

      "I saw somebody coming down North Columbia Road on a unicycle," Barrentine reflected as he grabbed a model with a 36-inch tire. "He was dribbling a basketball while riding one of these, and he had more gray hair than I do now. I said I can do this!"

      Barrentine and about a dozen people wheeled around the south Ralph Engelstad Arena parking lot Sunday evening. He said learning to balancing on a unicycle is no different than mastering a two-wheeler. There are going to be bumps and bruises.

      "The bigger the wheel, the faster you go, the harder you fall," said Barrentine.

      UND student Jed Shanley said Carl inspired him to give one wheel a try.

      "I've put in about twelve hours total, a half hour to an hour each time," said Shanley. "There's a lot of frustration, lots of falls, but I do it recreationally on the bike paths."

      Marissa Lind said she took to a unicycle five or six weeks ago. She rode one to her last day of class at Valley Middle School.

      "It's a fun accomplishment because it's one of those things not a lot of people know how to do," said Lind peddling a 12-inch model. She said she's eager to move on to a bigger wheel to go longer distances. Barrentine said the biggest he knows of is 43 inches.

      "Seeing kids do something they think is impossible and then succeed is so rewarding," said Barren-tine.

      Andrew Yost, president of the UND Cycling Club, is willing to learn.

      "Right now, the farthest I can make it is across my living room," said Yost.

      There are no organized clubs for unicyclists in Grand Forks. The closest is in the Twin Cities. Barren-tine is looking for a place to unicycle indoors during the colder winter months. One of his unicycles has a studded tire for winter wheeling.

      "I'm really happy with our bike paths, and the Green-way is just wonderful," Barrentine said. "In some parts of Japan, it's mandatory for kids to learn to ride a unicycle. I've heard of a woman who learned how to do it at 60."

      If you're interested in helping other learn to unicycle, you can call Barrentine at (701) 746-7992 or e-mail lucretius40@hotmail.com. To learn from other unicyclists on line, log on to www,.unicyclist.com/forums/.

      Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1262; (800) 477-6572, ext. 262; or send e-mail to jjohnson2@gfherald.com.

      Dustin Finkelstein, staff photographer; · The small gathering of people look on as a first-time unicycler gives it a shot at the Second Rendezvous of the Dakota One Wheel Society, held in the parking lot of the Ralph Engelstad Arena on Sunday.
      Raphael Lasar

      To Plotz is Human
      To Shvitz Divine

      Comment


      • Dad, son unicycle duo Pair outspoken about joys of life on one wheel
        Rick Smith
        21 August 2008
        San Angelo Standard-Times
        Copyright 2008 Scripps Howard Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

        Trey Smith and Lee Smith may have the most well-balanced father-son relationship in San Angelo.

        They may also be the city's only father-and-son unicyclists.

        You probably have seen them riding around town. Lee rode his unicycle to Lee Middle School for several years, and Trey rides his to Angelo State University. They often use the unicycles for trips to H-E-B or to restaurants, and they enjoy riding the trails at San Angelo State Park.

        Because unicyclists are rare around here, the two get a lot of kidding.

        "People always ask us the same questions," the father said, shaking his head as his 14-year-old son nodded.

        "Are you missing a wheel?" his son volunteered. Or, "Your handlebars are gone!"

        "Where's the rest of your bike?" the father added.

        Or their favorite: "How the heck do you do that?"

        "We get that one a lot," said Trey, an assistant professor of mathematics at ASU.

        "Yeah, and, sometimes, people just say, 'You're crazy,'" added Lee, who will attend the Central Freshman Campus this fall.

        Trey and Lee have been riding their one-wheeled machines for four years. They taught themselves to ride with a walker - the four-legged gadget people with balance problems use.

        "We'd put the walker behind us, hold on to both sides, then let go and fall forward," Lee said.

        "Lean out and fall. Lean out and fall. The first 100 or so times, that's all you do," Trey added.

        "It takes forever," his son agreed.

        "You get mad," the father said, "until you finally go 3 or 4 feet."

        "Then you start going longer and longer," Lee said. "Every 10 tries, you go a little bit longer.

        "Do that forever and a half, and you learn how to do it."

        Unicycles may look dangerous to non-riders, but they're not, Trey said.

        They don't travel as fast as bikes, he noted, and if you start to fall, you simply step off, onto the ground.

        After four years of regular riding, including city cycling as well as miles spent on the trails at San Angelo State Park, their only injuries have been minor cuts and scrapes.

        Why do the two enjoy unicycling?

        "For me, the best part of unicycling is getting to spend time with Lee," Trey added. "We get to go out and do something together."

        "And riding's a lot of fun," Lee added.

        Sure, there's some father-son competitiveness.

        "My favorite thing is finding different things to do on the unicycle - and then making Dad do them," Lee said.

        "I like jumping on and off stuff on my unicycle and riding it on small surfaces, like a board," he said,

        Trey shook his head. "Lee will try something and then say, 'Dad, that was a lot of fun. You've got to try that!'"

        Lee's competitive nature paid off this summer. He won three medals at the North American Unicycling Championship and Convention in Rapid City, S.D. Contests ranged from obstacle courses to an uphill race. He said he plans to compete again next year.

        Lee demonstrated his moves at home last week as motorists passing by on Avenue K slowed down to wave and enjoy the show.

        Jumping his unicycle down steps, over curbs, in circles, Lee rode forward, then backward, pumping the pedals, making the little machine spin like a ballerina one minute, riding it like a pogo stick the next.

        Balancing, bouncing. Bouncing, balancing.

        How the heck does he do that?

        As his son pedaled, Trey studied Lee's performance closely. I thought the father looked analytical, a little bit critical and button-busting proud - all at the same time.

        "Hey Dad," Lee said, speeding up, faster and faster. "Try this!"

        Rick Smith is a local news and community affairs columnist. Contact him at rsmith@gosanangelo.com or (325) 659-8248.

        Learning to ride

        Trey and Lee Smith say Unicycle.com is a good source for unicycling information and equipment. They also recommend the how-to book "Ride the Unicycle: A Crash Course!" by Gregg Vivolo. It's available at ridetheunicycle.com.
        Raphael Lasar

        To Plotz is Human
        To Shvitz Divine

        Comment


        • VIDEO: Conquering Pikes Peak atop a single wheel

          A couple mistakes in the article, like the number of muni'ists in Colorado Springs, but still a fun read:

          http://www.gazette.com/articles/unic...il_riders.html
          VIDEO: Conquering Pikes Peak atop a single wheel

          Comments 2 | Recommend 0
          August 27, 2008 - 8:41PM
          By DAVE PHILIPPS
          THE GAZETTE
          OK. Imagine trudging up Barr Trail to the summit of Pikes Peak: 7,000 vertical feet of slippery gravel and boulders. You're sweaty. You're exhausted. Your lungs are burning. It's the hardest thing you've ever done.

          Then some guy comes around the corner riding a unicycle.

          And just as you're about to mutter some flabbergasted comment, his 11-year-old, 64-pound, unicycling daughter does, too.

          "We get a lot of funny looks," said Luke Ward, 36, who learned to unicycle with his daughter Dani 18 months ago. They soon got good enough that they were taking the tipsy one-wheelers off-road, which led, naturally, to the ultimate local challenge: riding down Pikes Peak.

          A few weeks ago they were dropped off on the 14,115-foot summit.

          Dani, with brown hair and a laid-back "this is no big deal" attitude, strapped on shin pads, knee pads and a helmet, and wheeled a special knobbytired mountain unicycle to the edge of the abyss.

          What does she like about mountain unicycling, or "muni," as the sport's small band of devotees calls it?

          "It's hard," she said. "Not everyone can do it."


          "Hard" doesn't begin to describe it. Most people can't balance on a unicycle for a few seconds, let alone ride down a mountain. The Wards' munis have no brakes.
          The riders' quads are their brakes. And there is no coasting. Keeping a unicycle upright is a constant dance of muscles.

          "By the end you're so tired you can barely walk," Dani said.

          The father-daughter pair started down the trail, dropping over rocks and pivoting through boulder fields, held up by nothing but their own exceptional balance.

          Mountain unicycling is almost as old as mountain biking. John Foss, aka "The Unicyclone," a Californian who was a pioneer of the sport, started touting the challenge of trail riding in 1981 and held the first gathering in 1996.

          "Like mountain biking, it had multiple origins. People just started doing it," he said by phone. "But it wasn't until the late 1990s that you could buy parts specifically made for municycling. That's when it really took ofi."

          "Took off " is a relative term. The pool of muni riders nationwide is more like a droplet. The largest annual gathering, in Moab, Utah, attracts about 300 riders. The Wards say besides them, the number of other muni riders in town is one.

          But that may be part of the appeal.

          "It attracts a lot of really smart people who like to do things that aren't easy," Foss said.

          "It attracts a lot of computer people, a lot of artists and savants. And then there's just people who like to be odd."

          On the surface there's nothing odd about the Wards.

          Dani likes soccer and macaroni and cheese, and plays lots of "World of Warcraft." Her dad does computer work for El Paso County, likes spending time with his daughters, and plays lots of "World of Warcraft."

          What's odd is the looks they get from hikers on the trail.

          "You gotta be kidding me," one breathless man said as stepped aside to let the willowy girl roll past.

          "You just have more talent than you know what to do with," a woman said as she prodded her husband to snap a picture.

          Another hiker looked up and, with an incredulous smile, said, "Is this the sign of the apocalypse?"

          Even Matt Carpenter, the uber-focused champion trail runner, stopped midstride.

          "This I've gotta see," he said.

          The Wards bounced by like members of an X Games circus.

          "OK," said Carpenter. "Now I've seen it."

          He kept running.

          Dani led her dad down the trail, arms outstretched for balance.

          He started the whole unicycle thing after not finding enough of a challenge when he switched from a regular mountain bike to a rigid single speed, but she is quickly eclipsing him as a rider.

          "He's stronger, but I can do more tricks," she said.

          She is more graceful. He tries to power through things.

          "I have a job and she doesn't," he said in defense.

          There were no uni riders in the area to teach the Wards. They learned by first balancing with both hands clutching the doorway to their kitchen. The next step was to ride across the kitchen to grab the next doorway, 10 feet away.

          "We got pretty good in a few weeks," Ward said, "But the kitchen fioor has taken a beating. There were a lot of slams."

          Unicyclists fall a lot more than bicyclists, but the falls aren't usually as bad. Riders are less likely to get caught up in the frame so it's easier to bail out and land on their feet. Plus, the top speed is only about 7 mph, making even bad falls relatively minor.

          After about six weeks of riding, Ward and his daughter decided they were good enough to try the rocky trails at Ute Valley Park. It was a blast, so they tackled the Captain Jacks trail.

          They weren't staying on the whole time, but the point was the challenge.

          They started hiking up the Manitou Incline and riding down the tight switchbacks of Barr Trail. From there it was only natural to think of Pikes Peak.

          "It was his idea," said Dani, pointing a thumb at her dad and giving him a slight eye roll.

          "But you had fun," he said. "Didn't you?"

          They must have, because a few weeks after their first successful descent, they did it again.

          They dropped down through the clouds below tree line and rolled along at a jogging pace through the mist, toward town.

          Four hours after leaving the summit, they arrived in Manitou Springs.

          Even when riders have mastered the unicycle, it is still harder and slower than riding a bike.

          It will never be as popular, but, The Unicyclone is quick to note, it can take you to a place bicycling can't.

          "When you learn to unicycle," he said, "you've done something most of the world thinks is impossible. In the process you've learned that many impossible things really aren't. That's a powerful idea that can change your life."

          -

          CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0223 or dave.philipps@gazette.com

          Comment


          • A wheel adventure; Briton aims to take on Everest on a unicycle
            JO STEELE
            326 words
            15 September 2008
            (c) 2008 Associated Newspapers. All rights reserved.

            IT MAY be loved by clowns and jugglers, but the unicycle would hardly be the vehicle of choice for anyone tackling Mount Everest.

            Except for extreme unicyclist Steve Colligan... who intends to do just that to get into the record books.

            The father of two will have to overcome 5,000m (16,400ft) mountains, minus 15°C temperatures and negotiate the worlds largest downhill ride, all on one wheel.

            His 1,000km (600-mile) ride across the roof of the world will take him along the backbone of the Himalayas from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu in Nepal, via Everest base camp.

            Mr Colligan, who has been unicy-cling for eight years, has specialised in mountain unicycling muni to aficionados for six years.

            He has ridden down Snowdon five times, Scafell Pike in the Lake District twice and Ben Nevis (twice off-road) and along the Great Wall of China. But he describes this 25-day trip as my biggest challenge yet.

            Mr Colligan said: This will be 1,000km of unicycling across five mountain passes over 5,000m high, with the biggest decent in the world, at 4,600m. The route will go via Everest base camp on the Tibetan side.

            Most the riding will be dirt roads, so Im taking my distance unicycle, fitted with an off-road tyre.

            The second part of my trip to the Himalayas will be riding down many 5,000m peaks in Nepal.

            The 47-year-old, from Manchester, is undertaking the feat next week to raise money to build a school in Nepal.

            He added: This is going to be an extreme ride, but what an experience it will be. To follow his progress see www.unicyclesteve.com

            ASSCMMGLSTRY000020404134

            Look no hands: The daredevil unicyclist in New Zealand. Now he aims to beat Everest Downhill racer: Steve practising on a rutted path in Nepal
            Raphael Lasar

            To Plotz is Human
            To Shvitz Divine

            Comment


            • Madcap stunts make a molehill out of this majestic mountain
              16 September 2008
              The Guardian
              © Copyright 2008. The Guardian. All rights reserved.

              The last thing Everest

              needs is a unicycle

              Now look, my

              purpose is not to mock Steve Colligan, an "extreme unicyclist" from Salford who later this month sets off to ride a unicycle across the Tibetan plateau from Lhasa to Kathmandu via Everest base camp. Personally, I can't see the point of unicycles - bikes with two wheels are more my

              cup of tea - but Colligan is doing the 600-mile trip to raise money for education in Nepal, so good luck to him.

              "It's the challenge that drives me," he told the Manchester Evening News somewhat predictably. His preparation has been admirably thorough, with long hours spent cycling up and down the East Lancs Road. "I get a lot of beeps from people," he says. Marvellous, though even with my hazy knowledge of the geography of north-west England I am guessing that the East Lancs Road will not be a perfect mirror of the Himalayas. Only the

              temperatures will be comparable.

              My real concern, however, is poor Everest. This once majestic mountain, associated with the heroic names of climbing - Mallory, Irvine, Hillary, Tenzing - is now the plaything of cranks, stuntmen and would-be breakers of obscure records. In 2006 a Nepali climber took off all his clothes when he reached the summit and claimed the record for the world's highest display of nudity; in May 2007 Dutchman Wim Hof, aka the "Iceman", failed in an attempt to scale the mountain wearing only shorts; but in the same month, in an expedition sponsored by Motorola, British mountaineer Rod Baber did reach the summit and achieved his grand objective - to make

              a mobile call and send a text message from the highest point on earth. Climbing Everest "because it's there" (in George Mallory's resonant phrase) is no longer enough; now you must be towing a fridge, dressed in a kilt or advertising a make of mobile phone.

              Everest faces severe ecological damage because of the number of people tramping through; deforestation is occurring and the glaciers are in retreat; it is covered in rubbish - last year Japanese mountaineer Ken Noguchi picked up 500kg of garbage - and uncollected corpses, 188 at the last count; and restaurants and internet cafes are springing up at base camp. "Everest has become too crowded. It needs a rest," says another Japanese climber, Junko Tabei, the first woman to reach the summit. The

              last thing the mountain needs is a unicyclist. Stick to the joys of the East Lancs Road, Steve. I might even sponsor you.
              Raphael Lasar

              To Plotz is Human
              To Shvitz Divine

              Comment


              • This is from the "Mammoth times". (Scroll down for pic and caption.) It's a kind of "teaser" photo, and the actual writeup comes out in their newspaper and online next Thursday, 9/25/08.

                Click image for larger version

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                Last edited by MuniAddict; 2008-09-19, 07:35 PM.
                Happy Birthday Terry! Every year you get cooler, younger and unicyclier!
                Be our muniprohpet for many years more.
                -Dani Buron


                Website
                Videos
                Facebook

                Comment


                • Whered you get the shirt Terry?
                  I have my moments...

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Michaelgoround
                    Whered you get the shirt Terry?
                    CMW '06.
                    Happy Birthday Terry! Every year you get cooler, younger and unicyclier!
                    Be our muniprohpet for many years more.
                    -Dani Buron


                    Website
                    Videos
                    Facebook

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by MuniAddict
                      CMW '06.
                      Tight I'm gonna have to get a shirt like that made for me, I really like it. Nice pic BTW. To bad they didn't do much besides that.
                      Last edited by Michaelgoround; 2008-09-21, 02:04 AM.
                      I have my moments...

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Michaelgoround
                        Tight I'm gonna have to get a shirt like that made for me, I really like it. Nice pic BTW. To bad they didn't do much besides that.
                        Well that's just a "teaser" pic. The actual full article comes out next Thursday, 9/25/08 in both newspaper and online. Plus, I have a full-page write up coming in the Orange County register about a week after that! There will be at least 4-5 large color photos and writeup covering an entire page top to bottom! That should be cool I mentioned this website so hopefully it will be in there too!
                        Happy Birthday Terry! Every year you get cooler, younger and unicyclier!
                        Be our muniprohpet for many years more.
                        -Dani Buron


                        Website
                        Videos
                        Facebook

                        Comment


                        • Unicycle: Teen commutes around area on one wheel
                          MELISSA NAVAS; The Oregonian
                          18 September 2008
                          The Oregonian
                          © 2008 Oregonian Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

                          SUMMARY: Once-lonely unicyclists find more folks riding the contraptions,

                          commuting, mountain unicycling, even playing polo atop them

                          Teen commutes

                          around area

                          on one wheel

                          It's a whole new uni-verse

                          MELISSA NAVAS

                          A fierce polo game is being waged at Alberta Park, the click-clack of mallets echoing as players smack a red, golf-sized ball. Through the trees, the setting summer sun spotlights hundreds of bugs swarming over the fenced-in tennis court.

                          This is no everyday polo game, and the 25 players aren't on horses.

                          They ride unicycles. Yes, those one-wheeled circus contraptions.

                          Passers-by stare and point --a common reaction, the players say. One observer lets his dog walk him as he slows to watch the game.

                          Inside the court, the unicycle polo players swear, purposefully try to tip one another over and ram full-speed into the fence. Unicycles are everyday modes of transportation for this group of riders.

                          In a city that caters to bicycles, unicyclists are carving out their path. They ride to suit-and-tie jobs, mountain unicycle, participate in events such as Bridge Pedal and spend hours mastering new tricks.

                          An emerging sport is upon us.

                          * I had only seen a unicycle up close one or two times but never hopped on one. I already know it's going to be tough. And here I am in a restricting work shirt and shin-exposing capris, sure that I'm dressed wrong. Now's as good a time as any, though.

                          * Across town in West Slope, Madison Johnston plugs in daily to a world of unicyclists. It can be a lonely sport, so he wants to bring riders together any way he can.

                          The 17-year-old practically lives on www.unicyclist.com, a forum that allows him to chat with nearly 18,000 members worldwide. And, boy, does he chat. He's known as "Ducttape" and has the fourth-most posts, according to the Web site.

                          His unicycle obsession began four years ago while he flipped through a book. He saw a photo of stilts and thought it would be fun to build a pair. After balancing those, he searched for the next challenge.

                          "Unicycling seemed like the next step," Johnston says.

                          One riding friend is Philip Walborn, 19, of Salem who only recently taught himself from Web sites.

                          "When you ride by yourself, which happens a lot," Walborn says, "it can get kind of boring."

                          Johnston likes to get around town by unicycle. He commutes to school in Northeast Portland and to get to a Boy Scout camp this summer, he split riding and taking the MAX to Hillsboro. He's also developed a list of responses to people's predictable remarks.

                          "Where's the other wheel?"

                          I could only afford the first half, the other is on layaway.

                          Other times people just hum the circus song.

                          "It gets old after a while," Johnston says. "I can almost always have a reply to it. It tends to be a good conversation starter."

                          * Portland resident Kathy Thielen, who first rode as a child, tells me to tilt the unicycle toward my body 45-degrees so the seat is between my legs. Local riders call her Bear Claw, after a unicycle accident left gnarly gashes on her shin. One pedal is nearly horizontal as I thrust myself onto the unicycle. To make it upright, I push the pedal forward until the other one rounds to the top and I rest my other foot on it. Here's where the balance game begins.

                          * As a sport, unicycling is a baby.

                          Like skateboarding or snowboarding, people view it skeptically, says Kris Holm, an experienced mountain unicyclist in Vancouver, B.C., who founded his own line of unicycles and gear in 1998.

                          Holm says Portland is perfect for unicycling because of the area's rugged landscapes and the weird image it likes to cultivate.

                          "The challenge is not the sport or the differences of the sport, it's the perception of it," Holm says. Unicycling would flourish anyplace where people accept something new, he adds.

                          Oregon's terrain helps.

                          "The gorge is incredible riding," he says. "It's sort of got the right combination."

                          Part of a unicycle's appeal is that it's simple, Holm says.

                          "I'm really attracted to the unicycle because I'm kind of a minimalist with the sport," Holm says. "I like the idea that I can do more with less."

                          * Imagine a dotted line dividing your body at the waist. While on the unicycle, my upper body wants to go one way while the lower part drifts the opposite direction. My fingers clench the fence next to me for balance as I mostly stay in place. Trying to pedal forward only makes it worse; that's when the whole thing feels like it will fly out from under me.

                          * One Christmas when Ben Schoenberg was 10, his wish list included a unicycle. He got one. "A toy version with spindly, little crank arms and quite difficult to ride," he recalls.

                          He rode around his Southeast Portland neighborhood and remembers not knowing any other riders. But things changed, he said, when he enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the early 1990s.

                          He found a juggling club and began hanging out in a gymnasium with students who did freestyle riding with stunts and tricks.

                          Today, he runs Serious Juggling, a small, Northeast Portland storefront stocked with mostly juggling equipment and unicycles. The unicycle's ease makes it appealing, Schoenberg says.

                          "There's a simplicity to it, an economy of parts that have a certain aesthetic to it. If I take one to the bank or post office I can even cycle over, pick it up with one hand and open the door with another."

                          In 1994, he started a mail-order business that included selling unicycles. Three years later, he opened his first shop. Through the years he's seen unicycle's popularity grow among all age and types, including physical education teachers who add balance training on unicycles to classes. And with unicycle DVDs and video sharing of tricks on YouTube, "you have a generation of young unicyclists improving and one-upping each other."

                          * It's been about 10 minutes, and I've moved inches. Maybe four. Though I'm comfortable on bikes, this floaty feeling isn't the same. One slight jilt of my arms or hips changes the direction of the unicycle, and I can't figure out how to control it. I hop off and promise Bear Claw I'll ride longer next time, because there will be one.

                          * It took a personal ad for Lauren Pedersen to find the unicycler she had spotted. She wanted to learn how to ride one. He invited her to unicycle polo to test one out and in July, she bought her first unicycle.

                          "One day I'll get good, and eventually I'll have a fleet of them," Pedersen says, "like all of the bicycles at my house."

                          It's a Thursday polo game, and Pedersen is ready to practice. Amid the click-clack of mallets, she avoids bodies and unicycles crushing each other, and stays aboard. She clasps the fence as she wheels around the court.

                          Riders compliment her newbie progress. She tilts off using her leg to prevent her from falling.

                          Everyone should try it, she says.

                          "Just jump on it and try it out, and try it again when you fall down," Pedersen says. "That's pretty much it."

                          Melissa Navas: 503-294-5959; melissanavas@news.oregonian.com
                          Raphael Lasar

                          To Plotz is Human
                          To Shvitz Divine

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                          • Flying high under I-5 at the new mountain bike park
                            By Mike McQuaide

                            Special to The Seattle Times

                            Bellingham, where I live, is the home of Galbraith Mountain, Northwest-renowned for its too-many-to-count miles and miles of winding, twisting single-track bike trails. Simply put: To mountain bikers, Galbraith is arguably the be-all and end-all of Western Washington fat-tire riding.

                            So it was with a bit of patronizing condescension that I headed south to the grand opening of Seattle's I-5 Colonnade mountain bike skills park (all two acres of it, huh), which bills itself as the first ever urban mountain-bike park. I was like someone whose usual Sunday ritual is mass at Chartres Cathedral who decides to visit a tiny chapel in the country. "Oh how quaint; let's go see the little bike park."

                            Was I ever in for a surprise. Colonnade blew my mind!

                            First of all, the location is pretty freaky — it's directly beneath Interstate 5 between Eastlake and Capitol Hill. (And thus, mostly protected from Seattle's yearlong rainy season.) Second, the variety of riding that one can do here is staggering.

                            ...

                            "It's incredible to have something like this in the city," says Dan Heaton, a 26-year-old mountain unicyclist, taking a break from unicycling the log-lined cobblestones of the Limestone Loop. (Heaton is the mountain unicyclist currently featured in a Columbia Sportswear TV commercial.)

                            ...
                            Steve

                            Hop Drop & Roll

                            “If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your
                            shortwave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.” – Homer

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                            • This is the online version. I think the actual newspaper version will be a bit more in depth.

                              Unicycling down the mountain

                              Lomita, Calif., resident Terry Peterson brought his unicycle to the mountain. It was a bumpy ride, top to bottom. MAMMOTH TIMES PHOTOS/SUSAN MORNING
                              It's hairy enough going down Mammoth Mountain on a bike with two wheels but to commit to going down the narrow, tortuous, ash-filled trails on a unicycle can be downright insane.

                              Not so for Terry Peterson. At 52 years young he has coined himself the “Unigeezer” and for the first time this fall, Peterson and his unicycle rode the gondola to the top of the Mammoth Mountain and navigated the trail back to Main Lodge.
                              “I took up unicycling because being a piano tech is a sedentary job,” Peterson said. “I used to ride a unicycle as a kid and decided to take it up again.”

                              The conditions weren't quite what Peterson expected, but then again, he had no idea that Mammoth Mountain was a dormant volcano.
                              “Parts of the trail were deep and thick with dirt and it was hard to get traction,” Peterson said. “It took me two and a half hours to get down but I also stopped to jump off some boulders and tree trunks. And I had some unplanned dismounts that hurt.”

                              Peterson has been unicycling for almost three years now and shows no signs of hanging up his tire any time soon. “I try to ride every day and I think I'm in the best shape I've ever been.”

                              To follow Peterson and his unicycle adventures check out www.unigeezer.com.




                              Last edited by MuniAddict; 2008-09-25, 06:35 PM.
                              Happy Birthday Terry! Every year you get cooler, younger and unicyclier!
                              Be our muniprohpet for many years more.
                              -Dani Buron


                              Website
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                              • One of our local tv stations (www.whnt.com) did a short piece about "mountain unicycling" featuring me. I asked them, nicely, not to play "Entrance of the Gladiators" and they didn't; instead they substituted some other circus music oh well... Still desite that I think it wasn't a bad piece even though they misquoted what I said about "The only other mountain unicyclists are in California and Utah" I actually mentioned these two states as holding regular mountain unicycling conventions...? I told the reporter that people all around the world mountain unicycle and mentioned several times this website. Unfortunately none of that made the clip It is true, as far as I've found, that I'm the only mountain unicyclist in my state, or at least on this forum. Of course I'd love to be proved wrong in that account. I'd love some company on the trials and trails...

                                Anyway here is the link:
                                http://www.whnt.com/Global/category....&nav=menu108_5
                                munisano

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