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Old 2008-05-19, 10:26 AM   #886
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For some, one wheel is big deal
Claudia Zapata
STAFF
600 words
12 May 2008
San Antonio Express-News
STATE
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(c) Copyright 2008 San Antonio Express-News. All Rights Reserved.

When A.J. Greig's mother repainted her kitchen recently, there was one area that was off-limits. "I told her she couldn't paint over the tire mark on the wall," Greig says. That tire mark, after all, represents the beginning of his journey - on one wheel. Greig is a unicyclist. "It took me about 3 weeks to learn to ride in my mom's kitchen," he says during a recent phone interview from his home in Austin. "I went from the wall to the island, to the table, around the table, and back to the island." Slowly, Greig says, he ventured outdoors. Around the neighborhood. To the convenience store. And, eventually, on a tour of the Mediterranean. Since those first baby jaunts in the kitchen 13 years ago, Greig, 32, has logged between 15,000 and 20,000 miles on various unicycles. He says the attraction was instant. "I bought my first unicycle for $40 and that was pretty much the end of it," he says. Greig says once you ride a "uni," you never go back to two wheels.

Next month, Greig will be the only rider from Texas to participate in "Ride the Lobster" (www.ridethelobster.com), a five-day, 800-kilometer relay race through Nova Scotia considered the Tour de France of unicycling. Along with two unicyclists from California, Greig is part of Team Texacali. The first team to qualify from the U.S. was Team Venus, a trio of female riders that includes Irene Genelin, 23, who teaches French and unicycling at a Montessori school in Hutchinson, Minn. Genelin is the current unicycling world champion in the 10K and ranks second in the marathon. She began riding at the age of 11 when a unicycling club hosted weekly classes at her elementary school. "It's crazy how it's kind of taken over, but it's really brought me to a lot of great places," Genelin says. In college, she spent her junior year studying in France and was hired to teach unicycling. Genelin has since competed in races and tours throughout Europe and, most recently, toured Vietnam on a unicycle. San Antonio's not much of a unicycling town, although two Keystone School sophomores might be changing the landscape. Jordan Zesch, 16, says he picked up the skill while at summer camp a couple of years ago. "There's a lot more freedom with a unicycle," he says. "You don't have to just go forward. You can switch direction in an instant, hop up in the air, and jump up on a park bench." Brooks "Chance" Ruder, 15, dusted off his unicycle soon after watching his friend. He says his love of unicycling says two things about him: "I like to try new things. And I'm not afraid to be different." Safety gear, especially a helmet and wrist guards, are a must in unicycling. So are strong legs and a strong core. "You have to do constant adjustments with your core to keep your balance," Greig says. Finally, you need a sense of humor. "People think it's pretty clever to say ⿿you lost your other wheel,'" he says. "I get a lot of ⿿here come the clowns' and humming circus music," adds Ruder. One thing is for sure. Unicycling is something you want to first try at home. Preferably with mom close at hand. Claudia Zapata is a registered dietitian. Her column appears every other Monday in S.A. Life. claudiazapata@satx.rr.com.
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Old 2008-05-30, 12:40 PM   #887
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SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: WHEEL IN MOTION
BY PATRICIA MONTEMURRI
25 May 2008
Detroit Free Press
(c) Copyright 2008, Detroit Free Press. All Rights Reserved.

Here's a different spin on the balancing act many women perform every day.

Wendy Grzych and Kathy Susanka are working mothers who find relaxation and quality family time by pedaling a unicycle.

They are members of the Redford Township Unicycle Club, who will be flexing their core muscles and maintaining their balance, in entertaining unicycle formations in Monday's Memorial Day parade in Dearborn.

Wendy, the group's choreographer, appreciates how she can share an activity with her son and daughter.

"This is something we can do together," says Wendy, 40, an alternative education teacher.

When the Grzyches go for a bike ride, that means a unicycle ride. You can sometimes spot Wendy, Amanda, 14, and Dale, 11, atop their unicycles in their Garden City neighborhood.

Wendy, a unicyclist since she was 9, has nurtured the talent in others. She is taking several unicycling teens to a national competition this summer in South Dakota.

She even plays unicycle basketball - pedaling, dribbling and dunking.

Kathy Susanka, 43, of Dearborn Heights bought a unicycle for her daughter 15 years ago. She eventually encouraged Kathy to give it a whirl.

Unicyclists are rated on a 1-10 skill level range, depending on tricks they master. Kathy's a level 2. Her son, Steven, who was practicing a move called the "suicide side mount" on a recent Saturday, is a level 5.

"We very seldom have a family where just one kid does it," Kathy says. "Parents will bring the kids to learn to ride, and the parents will end up trying it."

Patricia is a Twist writer. Reach her at 313.223.4538 or pmontemurri@freepress.com.

( sidebar: SEE THE CLUB AT THE PARADE! )

* The Redford Township Unicycle Club practices at 9 a.m. Saturdays at St. Robert Bellarmine school gymnasium or parking lot, West Chicago at Inkster, Redford Township. Check www.rtuc.org for schedule changes.

* In June, RTUC members will participate in a 500-mile relay race across Nova Scotia.

* The club offers lessons beginning in January or February. If you don't have a unicycle, they'll initially provide you with one for lessons. The cost previously was $30 for the first family member for 8-10 lessons, and $15 for each additional family member.

* You can see the unicyclists en masse during Dearborn's Memorial Day Parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. Monday along Michigan Ave. from Greenfield to Schaefer.

ILLUSTRATION: Photo

CAPTION: Kathy Susanka, 43, of Dearborn Heights is a member of the club. Families - from grandparents to grandkids - put a multigenerational spin on the activity.

Wendy Grzych, 40, of Garden City is the president of the Redford Township Unicycle Club. She leads practice May 3 at St. Robert Bellarmine church in Redford Township.
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Old 2008-05-30, 12:41 PM   #888
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A wheely tough task - and no clowning around!
PHIL GOODWIN
29 May 2008
The Cornishman
(c) 2008 The Cornishman .

If you associate unicycling with comically-minded gentlemen in brightly coloured wigs and over-sized footwear you are probably not alone.

But Tue Johansen, of Nancledra, hopes to change a few fixed ideas when he rides for a British team in the first 'Unicycling Tour de France', being held in Nova Scotia next month.

The 42-year-old jets out to Canada as part of a three-man team planning to tackle the 500-mile 'Ride the Lobster' event on 36-inch 'cokers' - the name given by aficionados to racing unicycles.

Danish-born Tue says the inspiration for their team name - the Lost Wheelers - comes from the comment he hears shouted most often on training rides.

"Every time you go out someone will shout: 'you've lost a wheel' but I love giving people a laugh and it makes my day when children cheer me on," he said.

"Young people always want to know how you ride it and how you get on - which is probably the hardest part."

Anyone who has seen Tue climb into the saddle knows that it requires a running leap of faith and considerable balancing skills to remain upright.

But with fixed pedals, only one brake mounted on the tiny handlebars and no option to freewheel, travelling downhill at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour sounds like a true test of courage.

The pharmacist and father of two children, Tom and Millie, has been training hard for the five-day event from Yarmouth to Cape Breton.

He will ride the 125-mile stages in relay with team mates Steve Colligan and Paul Royle.

With 35 teams battling for the 5,000 first prize, the contest is something of an unknown quantity though it does mirror the Tour de France with road and time trial stages.

Tue is hotly anticipating day-three's criterium event which pits the entire field against one another in a mass sprint around a town called Truro.

"With 120 of us doing six laps of the town it could be complete carnage," he said, "so we will need to be pretty focused.

"You have got to be more 'on it' with this sport than on two wheels but you get a feel for when you are going to fall off and you have to kind of kick the cycle away.

"The great advantage is that having less weight you can go uphill much quicker than on two wheels - I overtake guys quite a lot around Penwith but they always catch me on the way back down."

Tue's partner Jo Holland and the children will follow the race from home but the whole family plan to go out to watch Tue compete in the world championships in Denmark later this year.

"We go out cycling together as a family but I am just a beginner on the unicycle - I feel very vulnerable up there without any handlebars," said Jo.

? Fans can follow the race action between June 16 and 20 online at www.ridethelobster. com
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Old 2008-06-03, 01:21 PM   #889
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Athletes 'Ride the Lobster' in unicycle tour through Nova Scotia
CP
2 June 2008
(c) 2008 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

YARMOUTH, N.S. _ Athletes from around the world plan to race along Nova Scotia's scenic coastline and backcountry roads this month _ on one wheel.

They'll be part of an event that organizers are calling ``the Tour de France of unicycling'' _ a five-day, 800-kilometre competition officially dubbed Ride the Lobster, with $10,000 in prize money.

Teams of riders will complete five stages from June 16 to 20, stretching from Yarmouth at the southern tip of the province to Baddeck, Cape Breton, at the north.

Communities, caught up by the ``grin factor'' of the event, are holding special events like ceilidhs and regattas to coincide with each stage, said event manager Heather LeBlanc.

``People can't believe that anyone would do a race like this,'' said LeBlanc. ``We have over 136 communities in Nova Scotia involved in this project right now.''

A total of 105 athletes _ riding big-wheel unicycles designed for speed and distance _ are expected from Canada, the United States, Britain, Denmark, Germany, France, South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand.

Jeff Groves, member of an all-Toronto team, says he's looking forward to the gruelling race _ and to finishing it, hopefully in the top 10.

``Sitting on a unicycle seat all day can be really sore,'' said Groves, 23, who expects to average about 20 to 25 kilometres an hour on his wheel, hitting a top speed of about 30.

``There are times that you really hate it. But it's fun in the end. It feels a lot better afterwards than it does during.''

Organizers plan to use GPS units to track the progress of each team live on the Internet at the event's website, www.ridethelobster.com.
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Old 2008-06-10, 12:40 PM   #890
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Unicyclists to 'Ride the Lobster' through rugged Cape Breton; 800-kilometre race no clown act; riders coming from New Zealand, Korea
Ken Meaney
9 June 2008
Edmonton Journal
Copyright 2008 Edmonton Journal

One wheel, one 800-kilometre race, one winner.

It sounds daunting just thinking about it, but 35 teams of unicyclists are about to mount up for a gruelling five-day race and bragging rights to being the hottest thing on one wheel.

It's called Ride the Lobster, and it's a one-of-a-kind event running almost the entire length of Nova Scotia.

Teams are coming from as far away as New Zealand and Korea for the inaugural race, from June 16 to 20, a sort of Tour de France for unicyclists.

They include the man who holds the one-day record for travel on a unicycle, the United Kingdom's Sam Wakeling, who can "unicycle the equivalent of ... downtown Ottawa to downtown Toronto in 24 hours," says organizer Edward Wedler.

Also on hand are four Canadian teams, and seven more that have Canadian members, with names like the Masticating Bunnies from Hell, Team Manly Legs and the Hans Islanders -- a Canadian-Danish team named for the island whose ownership is claimed by the two countries.

Todd Sankey, of the Hans Islanders, said the name is a half-mocking nod to the dispute, which in its own way "is as silly, but serious, as this race."

But if you're picturing circus clowns and juggling, you've got the wrong idea about unicycle racing.

Despite the irreverent names, it's a serious sport, says race official Heather LeBlanc of Granville Ferry, N.S. "Keep in mind that these are extreme athletes and they train all the time. They don't just hop on these things and go for a Sunday drive."

Sankey, a Vancouver resident, has been riding 20 to 25 hours a week in preparation for the race, but he says he's never done the distance he'll have to ride in Nova Scotia. "To keep it up over five days? It's hard to train for that. ... To put it in perspective, if I'm riding for an hour and 15 minutes, it's starting to get uncomfortable. After an hour and a half I really have to get off."

Wedler, a book store owner in Greenwood, N.S., says he got the idea for the race, billed as the longest unicycle race in the world, from a U.S. rider who calls himself Unicycle Max.

Max, a.k.a. Max deMilner, raised his own college tuition by unicycling across New England over a month in the spring of 2006.

Wedler wanted to take the same idea and put it to work in rural Nova Scotia -- partly for fun, partly to boost tourism and economic development.

Interest quickly grew among unicyclists who'd heard of the idea, including deMilner, who will be part of Team Unicycle Max. In fact, the original field of 25 teams was stretched to 35, Wedler said, and even then they had to turn away another half-dozen entries.

The race will be run in five stages with relay teams of three riders. It starts June 16 in Yarmouth in the Annapolis Valley and ends at Baddeck on June 20 with riders climbing through mountainous Cape Breton. Sandwiched in between the four racing days is a day of time trials.

As to why it's called Ride the Lobster, LeBlanc says Wedler, an Australian emigre, came up with the name when he was struck by how much a map of Nova Scotia resembles a lobster.

Photo: Handout photo / Max deMilner demonstrates the art of unicycling on a large "36-inch Coker," the type of long-distance unicycle that will be used by the 100-plus entrants in Nova Scotia's 800-km, five-day unicycle race. ;
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Old 2008-06-10, 12:41 PM   #891
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Athletes 'Ride the Lobster' in unicycle tour through Nova Scotia
2 June 2008
The Canadian Press
(c) 2008 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

YARMOUTH, N.S. _ Athletes from around the world plan to race along Nova Scotia's scenic coastline and backcountry roads this month _ on one wheel.

They'll be part of an event that organizers are calling ``the Tour de France of unicycling'' _ a five-day, 800-kilometre competition officially dubbed Ride the Lobster, with $10,000 in prize money.

Teams of riders will complete five stages from June 16 to 20, stretching from Yarmouth at the southern tip of the province to Baddeck, Cape Breton, at the north.

Communities, caught up by the ``grin factor'' of the event, are holding special events like ceilidhs and regattas to coincide with each stage, said event manager Heather LeBlanc.

``People can't believe that anyone would do a race like this,'' said LeBlanc. ``We have over 136 communities in Nova Scotia involved in this project right now.''

A total of 105 athletes _ riding big-wheel unicycles designed for speed and distance _ are expected from Canada, the United States, Britain, Denmark, Germany, France, South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand.

Jeff Groves, member of an all-Toronto team, says he's looking forward to the gruelling race _ and to finishing it, hopefully in the top 10.

``Sitting on a unicycle seat all day can be really sore,'' said Groves, 23, who expects to average about 20 to 25 kilometres an hour on his wheel, hitting a top speed of about 30.

``There are times that you really hate it. But it's fun in the end. It feels a lot better afterwards than it does during.''

Organizers plan to use GPS units to track the progress of each team live on the Internet at the event's website, www.ridethelobster.com.
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Old 2008-06-12, 01:11 PM   #892
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Unicyclists set to be big wheels in Nova Scotia; Ride The Lobster; Competitors from 10 countries set for 800-km relay
Brianna Goldberg
12 June 2008
National Post
(c) 2008 National Post . All Rights Reserved.

It only takes just one wheel to Ride The Lobster, but for some Canadians taking part in an unusual five-day long unicycle relay, it also takes a miner's helmet.

Competitive unicyclists from more than 10 countries pedalled their way through qualifications to take part in the 800-kilometre unicycle relay that runs across Nova Scotia next week, many of them coasted on the benefit of their own unicycle-rich cultures.

"There are three million unicyclers in Japan alone," said Edward Wedler, founder and co-organizer of the race.

"In Europe, there's an International Unicycle Hockey Federation, where Germany has more than 40 teams in four leagues."

And in Canada? "There's a few."

Maybe that's because Canada is not quite so friendly to the one-wheeled wonders trying to make a name for themselves.

Mr. Wedler said team members from Alberta and Saskatchewan who wanted to take part in what's being billed as "the Tour-de-France of unicycling," had to first complete the two consecutive days of the 75-kilometre qualifying rides in April through snowstorms, when it was dark, and with flashlight-topped helmets to help them see where they were going.

When the real race gets under way on Monday, the teams will begin on a mostly flat course in the province's south, push their way up the west coast, and progressively uphill, as they near the end point in Cape Breton.

"We did test runs and realized that the Cape Breton portion had more hills," Mr. Wedler said.

"We decided to put that at the end, because we didn't want people bailing out right at the start of the race if it seemed like it was going to be too hard."

At least they get to end the race going downhill, right?

"Actually, going downhill on a unicycle is difficult, because it's not like a bicycle -- you have to pedal the whole time," said Mike Thaler, a Grade 11 student and a member of Toronto's Team Atlas, which is competing in the event.

In all, 35 three-rider teams with members from Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, and other sundry European and North American countries will somehow find their way to small-town Nova Scotia, and pass the "baton" (a GPS tracker) between each other as many times as they like during the next five days.

Mr. Wedler, who said he can only wobble a mere 17 feet on the one-wheeled contraptions himself, came up with the concept as a way to bring a unique brand of attention to his home province.

He was inspired after coming across the Web site of a fellow named Unicycle Max, who was charting his own journey across New England using GPS on Google Maps.

Mr. Wedler tweaked the idea to include teams, presented it to the Unicycle Federation in Switzerland in 2006, and the cross-province trek was born.

Jeff Groves, another member of Toronto's Team Atlas, said that "unicycling's allowed me to travel all over the world--Spain, South America, Europe.

"But everywhere I go, Canadian unicyclers are known for just wanting to have fun. It's really a social thing."

The hard work begins on Monday, with the international teams competing for more than $10,000 in prize money and equipment.

Teams will be tracked and mapped and their positions in the race are to be presented via the Internet to unicycling fans around the world.

The strange event is even being filmed as the subject of a documentary, and home-province support was obvious when the film crew accompanied Nova Scotian competitor Beth Amiro to an elementary school near Truro recently for a workshop and students began sending fan letters to the unicyclists.

"They treat her like a rock star," filmmaker Sherry DeVanney said.
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Old 2008-06-17, 01:29 PM   #893
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Unique race involving 105 unicyclists underway in Nova Scotia
BY JOHN LEWANDOWSKI
16 June 2008
The Canadian Press
(c) 2008 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

HALIFAX _ More than 100 extreme athletes from around the world began unicycling their way across Nova Scotia on Monday in a unique race called Ride the Lobster.

The 800-kilometre race started in Yarmouth in eastern Nova Scotia and will wind its way through 135 communities before ending Friday in Cape Breton at Baddeck.

The event is the brainchild of Edward Wedler, a bookstore owner in Greenwood, N.S., who saw an opportunity 18 months ago to promote rural sports tourism in his adopted home.

``Wedler's originally from Australia and when he saw a map of the province, he thought it looked like a lobster, hence the name,'' said Doug Dockrill, spokesman for the event.

``Each rider will do 70 kilometres a day. These are some extreme athletes riding unicycles that range in size from 20 to 36 inches.''

Typically, unicycles have no brakes and no gears.

``You have to use your stomach muscles and your thighs. It's just as much work to go downhill as it is to go up,'' said Dockrill.

The race pack, known as a wobble, includes world distance and speed record holders, including Kris Holm of Vancouver, a man organizers describe as the Wayne Gretzky of unicycling.

``He even took his bike up into the Himalayas,'' said Dockrill.

Participants are competing for $10,000 in prizes and cash donated by various unicycle builders and enthusiasts.

Many of the participants staged demonstrations over the weekend in the Yarmouth county area.

Jirana Messenger, 19, of Frankfurt, Germany performed what she described as ``figure skating on a unicycle,'' something she picked up after she started unicycling eight years ago.

``I participated in a school workshop with juggling and unicycling like in the circus,'' Messenger said just before the race started.

The racers, members of teams from as far away as New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark, will be accompanied by mechanics in 35 vans.

Most of the logistical support has been donated, as various sponsors came on board.

Even the province's Justice Department got involved.

``There is no provision for unicycles on provincial highways in the Motor Vehicle Act,'' said Dockrill. ``So we had to get a ministerial order ... and set up police and traffic control at crossroads.''

Each team has a GPS tracking unit that is tracking their progress on the Ride the Lobster website at http://www.ridethelobster.com/
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Old 2008-06-20, 11:10 AM   #894
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Unique unicycle race draws more than 100 lovers of the one-wheeled sport to N.S.
BY MELANIE PATTEN
18 June 2008
The Canadian Press
(c) 2008 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

HUBBARDS, N.S. _ Feel free to stare, wave or cheer as Frank Brown zips past, perched high atop his unicycle _ just don't hum that darn circus song.

As the 25-year-old from Virginia scooted around a parking lot in Hubbards, N.S., on Wednesday _ preparing for the next leg of an international unicycle race _ he lamented the unicycle's enduring association with seedy carnivals and clowns.

``You get a lot of comments from kids, like, they'll start singing the circus theme song, that duhn duhn dunnadunna duhn duhn dunna,'' said Brown, humming the familiar big-top tune known as Entrance of the Gladiators.

``You get that a lot ... Other bicyclists, it's hard to convince them that we're really serious about this.''

Brown, who's been unicycling for about eight years, is one of more than 100 extreme athletes from around the world who have come to Nova Scotia to take part in a unique, week-long race called Ride the Lobster _ the brainchild of Nova Scotian Edward Wedler.

The bookstore owner in Greenwood, N.S., who is originally from Australia, came up with the name after he concluded that the shape of the province looked like a lobster.

The 800-kilometre race began Monday in Yarmouth, along the province's southwestern shore, and will wheel its way through 135 communities before ending Friday in Cape Breton at Baddeck.

On Wednesday, riders took part in a time trial, with one unicyclist departing the starting line every 30 seconds and cycling 21 kilometres.

The racers _ men and women who came from as far away as Singapore and Denmark _ are accompanied by mechanics in 35 vans as they cycle across the province.

Jamey Mossengren, who took up unicycling at the age of 10, said most people are surprised when they learn how serious some unicyclists are about their sport.

``Most people, when they think of unicycles, they think of circuses, clowns and we're trying to get away from that,'' said Mossengren, 28, who's from Huntington Beach, Ca.

``But once people see the tricks we can do, hear how long we can ride, they understand it is more of a serious thing than just fun and games.''

A basic unicycle is anywhere between 91 and 121 centimetres tall and costs between $500 and $600 dollars, said Mossengren. But unicycles with two gears can sell for about $2,000.

Typically, unicycles have no brakes and no gears, making it a challenge for a rider's stomach muscles and thighs, whether wheeling downhill or up.

``It's just a great feeling being up there, knowing you're balanced, it's kind of like a Zen state in a way,'' said Mossengren, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, but abandoned the profession in favour of opening his own unicycle shop.

Race participant Steve Plumridge of Sydney, N.S., said he decided to try his hand _ or feet _ at unicycling only 10 months ago.

``(Our team is) having lots of fun. We're not here to win, we're not here to really place,'' said Plumridge. ``We're here to meet all the people, enjoy the race, enjoy the experience.''

Ken Looi, a doctor from New Zealand, made the long trek to Nova Scotia for the race, which is considered the Tour de France of the one-wheeled variety.

The racers are competing for $10,000 in prizes and cash donated by various unicycle builders and enthusiasts.

Looi, 30, said the Ride the Lobster race was a long time coming.

``I think it's awesome, there's nothing that's ever been held like it before,'' said Looi, noting there is an international competition every two years where participants compete in a variety of events, including playing hockey and basketball.

``(Ride the Lobster) is one of kind,'' he said. ``Hopefully the first of many.''
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Old 2008-06-23, 01:02 PM   #895
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Germans win unicycle 'Tour de France'
21 June 2008
Calgary Herald
Copyright 2008 Calgary Herald

A quixotic race for unicyclists rolled to a close in the heart of Cape Breton Friday with a German team in first place after traversing more than 800 -- mostly hilly -- kilometres across Nova Scotia.

Ride the Lobster, a relay race billed as a "Tour de France" for unicyclists, featured 35 teams of riders from 14 countries competing for the bragging rights to the fastest team on one wheel.

That honour went to the German Speedsters, who took home the $10,000 purse.

"They made it over the hills and mountains of Cape Breton and they're all still standing and grinning from ear-to-ear," said organizer Heather LeBlanc. "They're exhilarated and I think they're going to have a good night's sleep."

Each team consisted of four people -- including three riders, who would spell each other off over the course of each of the race's five days, LeBlanc said .

The teams carried on despite hardships such as losing a rider -- one team went the entire five days with just two riders -- and having to share unicycles after losing their luggage.

Among the teams were four from Canada and seven more that have Canadian members.

The race began in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley on Monday.
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Old 2008-06-23, 01:02 PM   #896
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KIWI UNICYCLISTS SECOND IN NOVA SCOTIA
23 June 2008
Taranaki Daily News
2008 Fairfax New Zealand Limited. All Rights Reserved.

NEW ZEALAND unicyclists took second place at the inaugural Ride the Lobster relay race in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The team came in 17 minutes behind Germany in the 800km race.

The last leg of the five-leg race was held overnight on Friday, New Zealand time.

New Plymouth unicyclist William Sklenars and team-mates Ken Looi and Tony Melton made up the Kiwi trio.

"We are pretty stoked that we came in second out of 35 world-wide teams. It was really competitive and we got ourselves into a good position," Sklenars said.

The team had no strategy going into the five-day event and played it by ear, running a close second to the Germans during the entire race. "We went into the relay without predetermined transitions and that, I think, was the most effective way we could have done it. That way no one got too tired to ride."

Looi is on his way back to New Zealand, while Sklenars and Melton are headed to Vancouver to hit the rugged terrain on their unicycles.
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Old 2008-06-23, 01:03 PM   #897
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Unique unicycle race draws more than 100 lovers of the one-wheeled sport to N.S.
BY MELANIE PATTEN
18 June 2008
(c) 2008 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

HUBBARDS, N.S. _ Feel free to stare, wave or cheer as Frank Brown zips past, perched high atop his unicycle _ just don't hum that darn circus song.

As the 25-year-old from Virginia scooted around a parking lot in Hubbards, N.S., on Wednesday _ preparing for the next leg of an international unicycle race _ he lamented the unicycle's enduring association with seedy carnivals and clowns.

``You get a lot of comments from kids, like, they'll start singing the circus theme song, that duhn duhn dunnadunna duhn duhn dunna,'' said Brown, humming the familiar big-top tune known as Entrance of the Gladiators.

``You get that a lot ... Other bicyclists, it's hard to convince them that we're really serious about this.''

Brown, who's been unicycling for about eight years, is one of more than 100 extreme athletes from around the world who have come to Nova Scotia to take part in a unique, week-long race called Ride the Lobster _ the brainchild of Nova Scotian Edward Wedler.

The bookstore owner in Greenwood, N.S., who is originally from Australia, came up with the name after he concluded that the shape of the province looked like a lobster.

The 800-kilometre race began Monday in Yarmouth, along the province's southwestern shore, and will wheel its way through 135 communities before ending Friday in Cape Breton at Baddeck.

On Wednesday, riders took part in a time trial, with one unicyclist departing the starting line every 30 seconds and cycling 21 kilometres.

The racers _ men and women who came from as far away as Singapore and Denmark _ are accompanied by mechanics in 35 vans as they cycle across the province.

Jamey Mossengren, who took up unicycling at the age of 10, said most people are surprised when they learn how serious some unicyclists are about their sport.

``Most people, when they think of unicycles, they think of circuses, clowns and we're trying to get away from that,'' said Mossengren, 28, who's from Huntington Beach, Ca.

``But once people see the tricks we can do, hear how long we can ride, they understand it is more of a serious thing than just fun and games.''

A basic unicycle is anywhere between 91 and 121 centimetres tall and costs between $500 and $600 dollars, said Mossengren. But unicycles with two gears can sell for about $2,000.

Typically, unicycles have no brakes and no gears, making it a challenge for a rider's stomach muscles and thighs, whether wheeling downhill or up.

``It's just a great feeling being up there, knowing you're balanced, it's kind of like a Zen state in a way,'' said Mossengren, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, but abandoned the profession in favour of opening his own unicycle shop.

Race participant Steve Plumridge of Sydney, N.S., said he decided to try his hand _ or feet _ at unicycling only 10 months ago.

``(Our team is) having lots of fun. We're not here to win, we're not here to really place,'' said Plumridge. ``We're here to meet all the people, enjoy the race, enjoy the experience.''

Ken Looi, a doctor from New Zealand, made the long trek to Nova Scotia for the race, which is considered the Tour de France of the one-wheeled variety.

The racers are competing for $10,000 in prizes and cash donated by various unicycle builders and enthusiasts.

Looi, 30, said the Ride the Lobster race was a long time coming.

``I think it's awesome, there's nothing that's ever been held like it before,'' said Looi, noting there is an international competition every two years where participants compete in a variety of events, including playing hockey and basketball.

``(Ride the Lobster) is one of kind,'' he said. ``Hopefully the first of many.''
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Old 2008-07-07, 11:02 AM   #898
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ONE-WHEEL WONDER ; MADISON EAST SOPHOMORE LEADS A BALANCED LIFE ON UNICYCLE
TODD D. MILEWSKI
3 July 2008
The Capital Times & Wisconsin State Journal
2008 The Capital Times & Wisconsin State Journal. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All Rights Reserved.

Scott Wilton is getting pretty good at reading the looks he gets when he rides past people on his unicycle.

That's a challenge, too, because he can go by awfully fast.

"A lot of people are surprised. Some people are intrigued. Other people are like, 'What's wrong with you?'" the 15-year-old Madison East High School student said. "There's a lot of mixed emotion. And there's some people that just try and pretend you're not there; they try to ignore you. It's fun to watch their expressions. They're like, 'That's not normal. I'm going to just ignore it.'"

Wilton is also getting pretty good at speed and distance, considering he hasn't been on one wheel all that long. And he now has a unique experience under his belt.

Last month, he pedaled his way through Ride The Lobster, an event in which teams of three riders relay-raced across the entire Canadian province of Nova Scotia over five days. It was the first long-distance unicycle event of its kind ever staged, and Wilton was the only Wisconsinite involved.

His team was the event's youngest, too. He and a pair of friends he met at last year's North American championship event - his introduction to competitive unicycling - used their combined age (43) as their team number.

Their team name? 2Y2D, shorthand for Too Young to Drive.

Wilton and Toronto siblings Josh McCormick, 15, and Emily McCormick, 13, took 22nd out of 35 teams, with each covering about a third of the 800-kilometer (roughly 500 miles) trek.

"It's the coolest thing I've done on a unicycle," Wilton said.

The race started in Yarmouth, a town in southern Nova Scotia, on June 16 and ended in Cape Breton in the north four days later. Teams put in an average of about 200 kilometers in the first, second, fourth and fifth stages. The third day consisted of a time trial and criterium.

When they weren't on the road competing, team members rode with a support person in a van either alongside or ahead of the rider. The race was a like a relay, Wilton said, only instead of a baton, riders passed back and forth a GPS unit that tracked the team.

The first day took over 10 hours and the next took 111/2 hours for Wilton and 2Y2D. They finished the fourth and fifth days in just under 10 and nine hours, respectively.

All told, it was 44 hours, 3 minutes, 10 seconds of riding, a time that was nearly eight hours behind the winners, a team from Germany.

The best part about it, Wilton said, was meeting so many unicyclists.

"Because so few people do it, the community is really tight," he said. "There's a lot of people that I've heard about or talked to on the (Internet) forums, but it's really nice to actually meet them and ride with them."

HE LIKES GOING FAST

Wilton got his first unicycle for Christmas five years ago, partly because his friend had just picked up the sport and partly because his mom, Ann, knew someone that unicycled a long time ago.

He has since added other models to his collection, including one with a 36-inch wheel that's better suited for speed, and one that's used for tricks.

He used to ride his unicycle to school, but the burden of heavy high school books in his backpack made him switch to a bike. Those rides to school, however, started building up his speed and endurance.

The transition from riding as a hobby to competing came, Wilton said, because he likes going fast.

"Basically, we found out about nationals and we decided we'd go just for fun," he said.

At the North American Unicycling Championships and Convention last year in Michigan, Wilton made a big splash in his first big event.

He won the points championship in the 13- to 14-year-old boys group, finishing first in five events: one-footed 50 meters (10.71 seconds), 100 meters (18.34 seconds), 400 meters (1:13.90), 1,500 meters (5:07.13) and obstacle course (25.47).

It was the first time he had ever used a 36-inch wheel, and it took a toll in the 10,000-meter race.

"I fell off five times in the first lap," he said.

Still, he took third in that event (31:03.39), using a unicycle that belonged to a rather tall friend of his mom's. Wilton said he had to take a hacksaw to the seat post to make it fit.

IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR

It's not always easy being involved in an emerging sport.

The closest thing to a unicycle club that there is in Madison, Wilton said, is a loose organization of about 15 riders. The closest store with unicycling gear is in the Twin Cities, sending Wilton to the Internet to shop.

Still, he's headed back to the North American championships, which run Sunday through July 12 in Rapid City, S.D., to see how he does in an advanced age group.

And there's something intriguing about getting in on a sport on the ground floor.

"It's just a lot of people getting into it now, and I think that's cool," Wilton said. "It's a lot of fun to have more people doing it because unicycling is such a unique thing. These competitions and these conferences are so much fun because you meet so many other people that you don't normally see."

Wilton's family, which also includes dad Jeff and sister Patricia, went with Scott to Nova Scotia for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make that a potentially-once-in-a-lifetime experience; Wilton hopes to ride in another Ride The Lobster event, although it's likely it won't happen again for at least a couple of years.

His is a family of unicyclists, with his mom being the last to join in.

"She wants to be in the fun," Wilton said. "Her goal is to run at nationals this year."

For his part, Wilton doesn't see himself stopping anytime soon.

"This is definitely a lifelong sport," he said. "Especially distances. Distance is, first of all, a great way of exercising. It's also a lot of fun.

"There's hardly any awareness" of unicycling in the general public, Wilton said. "But it's getting better."

tmilewski@madison.com

Caption: SUBMITTED PHOTOS Scott Wilton, 15, is an avid unicyclist. His three-man team 2Y2D ("Too Young to Drive") rode across Nova Scotia in an 800-kilometer relay race last month. Wilton helped his team pedal to 22nd place in the Ride the Lobster race in Nova Scotia last month. Wilton rounds a corner during the Ride the Lobster race.
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Old 2008-07-16, 12:09 PM   #899
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1 wheel is all he requires for daily jaunts; Grocery store worker hops on his unicycle to get to job, run errands
Carly A. Mullady; SouthtownStar; Sun-Times News Group
7 July 2008
Chicago Sun-Times

Check out his ride.

Heads turn in Orland Park when Joseph Bilder travels to work on one wheel.

Bilder uses public transportation from his Chicago Ridge home to the Orland Square bus stop, then unicycles across one of the area's busiest intersections to his job at Dominick's.

"I bring it on the bus and stow it under my seat like you do on an airplane," Bilder, 54, said. "I don't have to worry about having a driver's license or dealing with traffic."

Bilder, who has many duties at the store, took up unicycling as a hobby when he was just 14.

"I use it for transportation and leisure purposes," said Bilder, who lives with his 89-year-old father. "I can do some juggling and other neat stuff. I feel really comfortable on it."

Depending on the weather, he unicycles back and forth to visit friends and run errands.

"It's a simple little machine that has been around since long before gas and cars were popular," he said.

That simple machine, figuring $4.25 a gallon at the pump and the average car getting 24 mpg, would save him nearly $1,000 a year in gas for the 20-mile round trip to work.

Plus, it makes for great conversation. Bilder said he gets waves, hellos and other greetings when he cycles around town.
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Old 2008-07-17, 12:19 PM   #900
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New Paltz resident loves to race unicycles
Nancy Haggerty
13 July 2008
Poughkeepsie Journal
(c) Copyright 2008, Poughkeepsie Journal. All Rights Reserved.

Think unicycle and image one might be a clown or street performer teetering side to side at all of a mile or two per hour.

But now think 500 miles of unicycle racing, often at 20-plus mph, of riding roads that not only go up and down hills but also mountains.

Think Ride the Lobster, the recent 35-team relay held in Nova Scotia.

The June 16-20 race, officially 800 kilometers or 497.1 miles, included four days of 35-rider mass-start, roughly 120-mile road racing and one day of time trials and criterium.

It also included riders from as far away as Korea, Germany, Denmark Singapore, Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

By comparison, David Stone was a local.

The 41-year-old New Paltz resident teamed with John Foss, 46, of California and Dave White, 52, of Ohio on The Centurions. The name represents the fact the three, who met through unicycle conventions, have among them 101 years of unicycling experience, Stone the least at 28.

Stone, president/founder of the Manhattan-based New York Unicycle Club, had done long unicycle rides, including a New York City century in which he logged 102 miles in one day. But his longest previous races were only 10Ks.

"I treated this racing as if I had to do about six to eight of those each day for four days," he said.

Stone, who works in Manhattan as a private tutor, trained for two months, logging 13 to 25 miles a day, sometimes in Central Park, but most often on the rail trail out of New Paltz.

Going in, his team's goal was a top-10 finish and that's exactly what it got, finishing 10th in 40 hours, 27 minutes, 34 seconds. That was four-plus hours behind the winning German team and more than 19 hours ahead of the last-place team. But 10th was a battle, with the 11th-place squad finishing just seven minutes back.

"When I rode, I always thought, 'Never let up.' I didn't want to give up even a second to another team... I rode like gangbusters the whole way," said Stone, whose motto was "None shall pass" and who noted, "It was very rare when someone did."

Enjoys speed aspect

Stone, a former high school runner who explained, "Speed is what I always had as a weapon in any sport," logged 87 of the final day's 180 kilometers, cycling mostly flats and downhills, his strengths.

He rode one three-mile, paved mountain downhill at 19 mph.

"On a unicycle that's way too fast to fall off," he remarked.

But while one opponent broke a leg crossing train tracks, even on gravel, Stone's team had no falls. It was on a gravel downhill, that the gravel-loving Stone hit 22.5 mph, his top race speed.

"That was just amazing," Stone said, adding, "I see gravel and it's almost like I get hungry."

Foss' wife, Jacquie, drove the team's support van routinely six or more miles ahead of the team's current rider. Then, at the van, a GPS tracking baton was passed to the next rider, who'd already be pedaling.

Stone, who owns 30 unicycles, rode a 29-inch, wheel-geared unicycle throughout the race. Other racers rode geared and ungeared unicycles of various sizes. The winning Germans, who took home a $4,000 prize (The Centurions split $125 for 10th place) used a more difficult to handle but very fast 36-inch, wheel-geared unicycle.

The race, run through areas that reminded Stone of the Hudson Valley, was designed to boost tourism. Rooms and breakfast and dinner were provided free to participants, who shared information and more with each other.

"Imagine a new golfer coming along and wanting tips on how to avoid a slice and he started chatting up Tiger Woods. It's never going to happen. ... The nice thing about the sport is it's in its youth. We're still so innocent," said Stone, who noted his and others teams loaned unicycles to competitors and one team actually built one for another team.

The camaraderie extended to fans. Schoolchildren lined parts of the route and gave teams care packages.

"... As a tutor, former teacher and father, the kids were the best (part of the race)," said Stone.

While his own kids, Fiona, 12, a five-year rider; Emmett, 8, a two-year rider; and Maeve, 4, were home in school and his wife, Shirra, was running her New Paltz shop, Knit and Be Happy, the GPS baton allowed them to follow The Centurions' progress online.

This was the first ever Ride the Lobster and if Nova Scotia hosts it again, Stone plans to be there.

He also dreams of someday unicycling cross-country with his brother, John, who has unicycled across the Alps, the Pyrenees and Norway.

More immediately, though, Stone plans to do a New York century ride on Sept. 7. And he's also talking about teaming with John and Emmett in arace.

The name of that team? The Rolling Stones.

Nancy Haggerty writes about extreme sports every Sunday in her Without Limits column.

On the Web

Information about Ride the Lobster can be found at

www.ridethelobster.com and at www.unicyclist.com
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