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Old 2003-06-30, 04:09 PM   #47
JJuggle
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Here is the bit from the Canadian magazine Maclean's on Kris Holm. Others are discussed, but I edited that out.

BORN TO BE HIGH AND WILD: Whether from cities or plains, some feel at home only among soaring peaks.

BRIAN BERGMAN
2,115 words
23 June 2003
Maclean's
48
ISSN: 0024-9262
English
Copyright 2003 Gale Group Inc. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT 2003 Maclean Hunter Canadian Publishing Ltd.

LIVING IN CALGARY, the mountains are never far from view. On a clear day (and in Alberta, after all, most days are clear), I can see the snow-capped Rockies shimmering to the west. For me, it's a constant reminder of a majestic landscape only an hour's drive away, one I have the good fortune of visiting frequently. And, as is often the case, I've learned it's the people, as much as the peaks, that make the place.

Mountain people, to borrow a phrase, are different than you and me. Typically, they've heeded a call: though born and raised in cities, on the prairies or by the sea, they feel most at home surrounded by peaks thousands of metres high. Many make an economic sacrifice to live where they do, working a variety of jobs to pay the bills. The most obvious common denominator, though, is a love of the outdoors -- and, in many cases, of pitting themselves, at great risk, against nature. These are people who, in the words of the 1960s chestnut, "take the world in a love embrace." Here are the stories of six who were born to be wild.


KRIS HOLM, 29, MOUNTAIN UNICYCLIST

The images are stunning. Legs spinning and arms outstretched, this Victoria native can be seen in a pair of recent documentaries as he careens down the side of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest peak, and negotiates thousands of ancient stairs cut into a mountain pass in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. All in a day's work for Holm, who is something of a cult hero in mountain unicycling. Holm, who now lives in Vancouver, where he works part-time as a geology researcher and lecturer at the University of British Columbia, says there's nothing all that intimidating about what he does. "It's really not as dangerous," he insists, "as it looks."

OK, if you say so. Holm got his first unicycle for his 12th birthday, after seeing a local street performer ride one while playing a violin. An avid rock climber, Holm was soon testing his toy on some of his favourite terrain. But it wasn't until 1998 that he learned, via the Internet, that mountain unicycling was an emerging sport. After winning several North American titles, Holm last year earned the top technical mountain unicyclist award at the World Unicycling Championships held in Seattle.

For Holm, unicycling is more than a sport. "It's about taking this crazy thing and riding it in some amazing places," he says. To Bhutan, for example. Few foreigners are allowed into the kingdom and Holm wondered how he and fellow rider Nathan Hoover, of California, would be received. Not to worry. Schoolchildren swarmed them in villages, and some monks in traditional garb took the curious vehicles for a spin. "There's something about a unicycle," muses Holm, "that makes people smile."
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Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ
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