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Old 2016-02-26, 05:13 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by tholub View Post
Partly it's the history, but it's also the physics of it. It's not possible to "go big" on a unicycle; we're too slow and too we can't flow. KH amazed everyone with a 15-foot drop to a snow bank almost 15 years ago, and no one's topped that since; that really looks like something close to the physical limit of the device. And frankly even that doesn't look great; certainly not compared to, say, Tony Hawk or Shaun White in a half-pipe.
That's true, and that sort of "go-big" only comes from people at the very top of the sport. Basically you need an amazing level to be able to do that.
So basically our sport (in its muni iteration) comes down to that: amazing level required for a not so impressive (from the outside) result.

We've all seen the Dany MacAskill trials videos. They're amazing as they have the "go-big" factor. But he's one of the very few with those skills on the planet. And if you can't do pull those tricks, trials bikes are incredibly boring and useless with their almost 1:1 development and lack of saddle. Which would explain why I have to see one in real life...
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Old 2016-02-26, 05:24 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by pierrox View Post
We've all seen the Dany MacAskill trials videos. They're amazing as they have the "go-big" factor. But he's one of the very few with those skills on the planet. And if you can't do pull those tricks, trials bikes are incredibly boring and useless with their almost 1:1 development and lack of saddle. Which would explain why I have to see one in real life...
I'd say that in almost all types of these sports (skating, BMX, dirtbiking, motorcycle racing, you name it) stems from the "go-big" people. It's like a Halo car: everybody sees the Audi R8, falls in love with Audi, but only ends up driving a mid-size sedan. In my experience, the most vocal skaters are the ones who just figured out how to kickflip. The biggest Valentino Rossi fans barely know how to ride a motorcycle.

Almost every other sport else has the ultra-beginner category. You've got people who can stand on a skateboard but can't do tricks, but love the big halo-car icons they see on TV and make a mental association between themselves and their idol. Unicycling doesn't really have an ultra-beginner category. For most people, the time you can actually ride even to the end of your driveway comes after many hours of long, arduous practice and progress measured in centimeters. "Normal" people give up when something isn't immediately working for them.

Just kind of thinking out loud, still having my first cup of coffee. To gain popularity, "going big" is essential, but as I alluded to in my last post, I think unicycling needs to find a totally unique way of "going big" on its own to really take off - not getting massive air or huge drops, but something that other disciplines can't do.
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Old 2016-02-26, 09:30 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by FoxxyD View Post
(...)You've got people who can stand on a skateboard but can't do tricks, but love the big halo-car icons they see on TV and make a mental association between themselves and their idol. Unicycling doesn't really have an ultra-beginner category. (...) "Normal" people give up when something isn't immediately working for them.
I think you nailed it with that observation. Even if you were still on your first coffee of the day!
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Old 2016-02-27, 02:25 AM   #49
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I hate to bring up the past, but going big in unicycling for me is something like Ride the Lobster. FoxxyD organizing an annual race like RTL would get people to look at unicycling as a real sport.
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Old 2016-02-27, 07:47 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by Unicyclist Lou View Post
I hate to bring up the past, but going big in unicycling for me is something like Ride the Lobster. FoxxyD organizing an annual race like RTL would get people to look at unicycling as a real sport.
How much coverage did RTL get outside of Nova Scotia and the unicycle world?
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Old 2016-02-27, 03:48 PM   #51
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I don't know, probably not a lot. I live in the Chicagoland area and I didn't hear about it until I got make into riding. I would think if it was annually it would get more coverage.
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Old 2016-02-27, 03:58 PM   #52
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I don't know, probably not a lot. I live in the Chicagoland area and I didn't hear about it until I got make into riding. I would think if it was annually it would get more coverage.
I think the answer is "zero"; at least, zero coverage as a sporting event. There were some "hey, this crazy guy from our town is doing this thing in Nova Scotia" stories. Tourism stories in Nova Scotia. Posts here. That's it.

RTL was a logistical nightmare to organize and likely lost money, which is likely why it wasn't repeated. And it didn't do anything to move the needle on unicycling being perceived as a mainstream sport.
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Old 2016-02-27, 08:18 PM   #53
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Excuse me for jumping in and out without having read past the OP:

It hasn't taken off like snowboarding because riding one wheel is a lot harder than riding one board.

That said, I've come to realize that over the last 20 years or so, peoples' perceptions of unicycling are gradually changing as well. As it's become more visible as a thing people do on dirt, on obstacles and in remote places, I think people are also realizing it's something "normal" people can do. The barrier to entry is slightly lower than it was back in the 90s.
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Old 2016-02-28, 06:07 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by FoxxyD View Post
1. Public perception of unicycling must gravitate more toward "cool." This will only happen through the people who are already dedicated unicyclists. Nobody's going to pay to market toward an unknown/fringe sport unless the perception of coolness is already there.
Anyone who will "pay to market" is expecting a decent return on that payment. Generally that's the first (and largest?) hurdle for unicycling from a marketing point of view.
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Originally Posted by FoxxyD
2. Get just enough of a market impact - just enough of a viral public image boost - that some company is willing to take a risk. A single correct placement of a unicycle in a viral video or a single endorsement by a celebrity will do this.
There's a YouTube video I just recently saw, about one of the players for the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA Basketball). He's a unicyclist, inspired by Kris Holm videos, and is shown riding around the court on his Trials (he needs a taller post), hopping and dunking a basketball. Many such videos are out there, but the hard part is the viral. It's very hard to "force" a video to become viral, but good mass-media exposure always helps, if only just a little.

A few years back there was a (short-lived) show on ABC, I think, called Master of Champions. In the very first show, they pitted two expert Trials unicyclists, Zack Baldwin and Dan Heaton, against each other in an excellent and very mainstream showcase of large Trials unicycling. Remember that one?
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Originally Posted by FoxxyD
See "cheap Chinese exploding hoverboards" for an example of what I mean.
I love how you keep referring back to those, and including the word "stupid". I think the main part of the Hoverboard's fame comes from their brilliant choice of a name. We've all seen Back to the Future. How many of us have fantasized about having one of those hoverboards (even if not the jet-propelled PitBull)? It's not a Hoverboard at all, or a unicycle, but I believe the name is the core source of all the attention those things got, at least before they started having the battery problems. Brilliant marketing in the name choice! Still can't get the Unicycling Society of America to even acknowledge that marketing is even a thing, and that names really matter...
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxxyD
3. Have more organized competitions that are TV friendly and can capitalize on being new and exciting. Get 20 people of skill levels approaching Kris Holm (good luck) and put them in some sort of competition with rules, slap a Red Bull sticker on it, and suddenly people will start thinking it's the best thing ever.
Now you're talking. Competition events can potentially attract a lot of attention. We've learned which of the events we do at big competitions like Unicon get more press, as some are more interesting than others. But we haven't figured out how to compete with similar sports that can get bigger air. Certainly not by getting uni-air; just not impressive to a casual audience that doesn't understand why a fixed gear can't go that fast (or what fixed gear means). For the most part, our competition events are designed to benefit the riders, not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not how big commercial sports work. I watch a lot of NBA basketball. That game is loaded with rules to keep the game moving and keep it interesting. We have done little to no of this in unicycling, yet.

That said, unicycle competitions have gotten some excellent TV coverage over the years, but they seem to do very little to break down the usual stereotypes.
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Originally Posted by fugsworth View Post
Why does it matter? Who cares?
--
Now I can see why UDC and KH would want the sport to get bigger.
Some of us in this thread care, but not everyone has to. UDC and KH (and today's other major unicycle sellers) have done a lot to forward our sport. Unicycle.com were the first unicycle vendors that treated unicycles like a market. They created price points. They specced unicycles to fit price points. And most importantly, they made it easy to buy a unicycle online, before anyone else. Because they directly benefit as the sport grows, they do plow money, time and effort into marketing activities. It's good for them, and it's good for us as well. SWAG!
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If circus would cool, would that help unicycling become cool?
Circus is cool. Unicycling is cool. The problem is that so few people realize it!
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Originally Posted by Superbant
Yes people will think it is cool, but people will lump unicycling in with circus, not with extreme sports. How can I convince people that they can learn by themselves, when I was taught in a circus that I had been in since kindergarten?
Not to worry. 99.99% (give or take a few 9s) of new unicyclists don't get to be in circus schools. More probably learn in unicycle clubs, though the vast majority still learn on their own.
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Originally Posted by Superbant
Also, you can go to many ski resorts and take a 30min snowboard lesson, but I feel like the same thing does not exist for unicyling.
It absolutely doesn't. At a ski resort, you've already paid a bunch of money to just be there and ride the lifts, so a little extra to help improve your skills (or get you started) is perfectly acceptable. Without the ski resort environment, it's pretty hard to get people to part with cash for unicycle lessons. Because it's hard to teach them in a reasonable amount of time, and mostly because of the perception that it's too hard. How much should a person spend for a 1-hour unicycle lesson if she doesn't think it will teach her to ride anyway? This is probably the biggest barrier to entry.
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Maybe Harper is depressed from all the rain we've had lately.
I hope not. I'm pretty sure he knows where he lives. He's just a grumpy/funny sniper here.
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Originally Posted by Vertigo
I once came across a video with Chris Martin from Coldplay unicycling. He was in some kind of animal suit. I suppose that video didn't really help the sport much.
It was played at every medals ceremony at Unicon XVI in Italy, enough to make me sick of that song. But I like the song, even without the video. I choose to assume that knowing Chris Martin can ride a unicycle, while wearing a full-body elephant costume, is a very good thing for unicycling. I especially love that the unicycle makes it very plain that it's indeed Chris doing the riding.
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Originally Posted by superfunk View Post
  • I personally wouldn't like to see my favourite trail busy with muni riders... {I would}
  • I prefer to be me, and me unlike others. {But you are!}
  • I know I'm not cool, and I don't try to be cool. {Nothing to worry about there}
  • But mostly because I don't feel good when noticed. {Okay. Just keep believing nobody notices you. }
The drawback of being so uncommon, is not having riding buddies and not much competitions to meet people.
I think that's why many people hope for the sport to grow bigger. And to make them more available and affordable!
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Originally Posted by skilewis74 View Post
I think there is much more openness to trying unicycling in Europe because it's already more common since its introduced in many schools.
It's much bigger in Japanese schools. But this shows a possible reverse problem. Most Japanese elementary school students have access to unicycles. They can learn if they want. This demonstrates that unicycling is learnable by anyone who applies themselves. Said unicycles are no longer available once you leave elementary school, unless you buy your own. So the majority of Japanese kids stop then. I've had several Japanese people over the years tell me that unicycling is associated with something you do in elementary school, but that few people stick with it after that.

So that's not the same as most of the world; the difference is that today's Japanese millennials know they can ride a unicycle, if they want.
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Originally Posted by OorWullie View Post
Also, other sports are sociable. People go for group rides, the bar at the ski resort is full of folks recounting tales from their day on the slopes. With uni that doesn't happen so much. I have never seen another unicyclist let alone ridden with one.
I am reminded how rare it is for me to have a random unicycle sighting in the community. But I had one today. Two guys with 20" Torkers in Folsom. They're from the same town as Zack Baldwin (mentioned above; BTW he won that), and are close to his age, but didn't know him. Didn't know any other unicyclists!

And I very much enjoy going on group rides, but I have to either organize them, or drive 2 hours to do one with the closest other organized groups.
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Originally Posted by jona View Post
Racing, BMX, cruisers, touring. Uni's can't compete. With a few exceptions, most are slow, don't blend in, and never will except around their own kind. I think speed is the uni's biggest weakness in most peoples opinion, and what keeps it in the clown toy category.
Speed and big air. This relates back to the idea of competition types. Our Trials competitions are amazing; incredible skill, strength and fitness on display! But still small compared to what Bicycle Trialists do. We need to find better ways to demonstrate the unicycle's strengths, in a way that appeals to a general audience.
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Unicycling is not a testosterone related activity, because it doesn't recall (from outside) to adrenaline, power or other macho tracts.
Actually it built up all of those for me, but from a perception standpoint I guess I see your point.
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Originally Posted by FoxxyD View Post
Put simply, I think that once a proper "arena" is designed that focuses entirely on things a unicycle can be good at, it can really take off. From a design perspective, it's not a matter of asking "how can I get a unicycle to do these things that a BMX/snowboard/skateboard/whatever can do," but instead "what can a unicycle do that everything else can't, and how can I maximize that potential?"
That's a great idea for a new thread. What would it be? Whatever it is, it also has to be fun to do. Like Unicycle Sumo.
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Originally Posted by FoxxyD View Post
Almost every other sport else has the ultra-beginner category. You've got people who can stand on a skateboard but can't do tricks, but love the big halo-car icons they see on TV and make a mental association between themselves and their idol. Unicycling doesn't really have an ultra-beginner category.
I don't follow. The vast majority of unicycle riders are in the ultra-beginner category. But they are also isolated from others, except perhaps through the online resources that may have inspired them to begin with.
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Originally Posted by tholub View Post
RTL was a logistical nightmare to organize and likely lost money, which is likely why it wasn't repeated. And it didn't do anything to move the needle on unicycling being perceived as a mainstream sport.
Come to think of it, very little has moved the needle. It's only moved a little bit in the 30+ years I've been paying attention. RTL/Ride the Lobster was intended to draw attention to Nova Scotia as a tourist destination. I assume that wasn't real effective either, though it would be interesting to find out the end results by their metrics. It sure generated a decent amount of publicity around NS while we were there, and it was fun being in an event like a low-budget Tour de France and treated like a mini-celebrity while we were there. I'm so glad I was able to participate because I knew it was likely to only happen once. I hope somebody does something like that again.
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Old 2016-02-28, 07:37 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
tell that to me 4 years ago when I nearly broke my pelvis [boarding] on the sheer ice that you have to deal with in North Carolina ski areas.
Most of the time you're on snow. You definatly get a lot more ice than I did in Cali though. When learning uni you're on pavement which is quite a bit harder than packed snow.
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Originally Posted by FoxxyD View Post
To gain popularity, "going big" is essential, but as I alluded to in my last post, I think unicycling needs to find a totally unique way of "going big" on its own to really take off - not getting massive air or huge drops, but something that other disciplines can't do.
+1 Going big on a uni is anything over 6 ft IMO. That's not very impressive when you have skiers jumping 150 ft cliffs.
The biggest airs I got when I was boarding is 100+ft air by connecting two tabletops and a 30 ft cliff. I never had the skill or guts to do anything more than a method on a big air though.
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Competition events can potentially attract a lot of attention.
+1
A couple of years ago I saw something on the news about some event in my area (~30 mi) involving a sport I'd never heard of and I was intregued. I was kind of busy, it was a bit out of my way & I want hugely excited, so I didn't look into it further.

The main point in relating it to something like RTL is that event had been going on in my area anually for nearly 15 years and I had never even heard of that activity.
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Old 2016-02-28, 06:41 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by johnfoss View Post
The vast majority of unicycle riders are in the ultra-beginner category. But they are also isolated from others, except perhaps through the online resources that may have inspired them to begin with.
If there is one thing that has changed massively our sport it is the internet for sure. It has increased the community I'm sure, but also led to the development of muni, trials and other quality unis.

I started unicycling in the mid 90's - though I never achieved proficiency on my crappy chrome one - and at the time there were little things online. The only thing I found were written instructions with a couple of very small photos.
Learning then was incredibly harder than nowadays when we have tons of videos and an online community like this forum where you can ask questions and get help and advice.

So if you're looking for info on unicycling, it's definitely out there, and more than ever. But if you're not exposed or not researching, you're likely to never hear about unicycle in your daily life.
I tried unicycling 20 years ago because I got exposed to it and it triggered my curiosity: I then lived in London and was cruising the Camden Town market one weekend and came across the juggling shop. They had several chrome unis and the place said "everything here is cool". I had the cash, thought "Why not?" and bought one. And almost 20 years later, the same thing happened: I was back in London for work and had a quiet weekend and decided to check Camden Town. The juggling shop was still there but they had hardly any chrome unis: they had way cooler big knobby tire unis, in various sizes and colors! A couple of hours later, I was on the web, found that forum and udc.uk and had ordered my first muni.
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Old 2016-02-28, 10:22 PM   #57
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can a unicyclist even be a poser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxxyD
Almost every other sport else has the ultra-beginner category. You've got people who can stand on a skateboard but can't do tricks, but love the big halo-car icons they see on TV and make a mental association between themselves and their idol. Unicycling doesn't really have an ultra-beginner category.
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Originally Posted by johnfoss View Post
I don't follow. The vast majority of unicycle riders are in the ultra-beginner category. But they are also isolated from others, except perhaps through the online resources that may have inspired them to begin with.
I think he means a social scene for beginners, i.e. that you can be/feel cool even as a beginner. For example, I think it would be difficult to be a unicyclist poser (someone who can't really *do* a sport but just acts like he's part of the scene). Examples would be: a beginner skateboarder who can't even do a kick flip but carries his skateboard to class and has stickers of pro skaters on his notebook and has a skater haircut and the right cool skater clothes (he's still a "skater dude"); a snowboarder hanging out at the halfpipe or snowbaord park (but not dropping in the whole day); or a person with a golf shirt, golf pants and (golf hat?) and golf clubs in the trunk but can't even drive 100 yards or double-boogie...

The point is either to "join a group" and fit in or show off...

And I think it both of these are pretty hard with unicycling: as there's no "cool crowd" of unicyclists to join, nor can you "fit in" by unicycling, nor can you massively impress people by carrying a unicycle around: and hope they mistake you for the "well-known" pro unicyclist with trading cards and an apparall line (as there aren't any, or at least no any that are known to anyone outside of unicyclists).
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Old 2016-02-28, 11:19 PM   #58
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I think he means a social scene for beginners, i.e. that you can be/feel cool even as a beginner. For example, I think it would be difficult to be a unicyclist poser (someone who can't really *do* a sport but just acts like he's part of the scene). Examples would be: a beginner skateboarder who can't even do a kick flip but carries his skateboard to class and has stickers of pro skaters on his notebook and has a skater haircut and the right cool skater clothes (he's still a "skater dude"); a snowboarder hanging out at the halfpipe or snowbaord park (but not dropping in the whole day); or a person with a golf shirt, golf pants and (golf hat?) and golf clubs in the trunk but can't even drive 100 yards or double-boogie...

The point is either to "join a group" and fit in or show off...

And I think it both of these are pretty hard with unicycling: as there's no "cool crowd" of unicyclists to join, nor can you "fit in" by unicycling, nor can you massively impress people by carrying a unicycle around: and hope they mistake you for the "well-known" pro unicyclist with trading cards and an apparall line (as there aren't any, or at least no any that are known to anyone outside of unicyclists).
This is exactly what I was going for. I also think that the presence of a "poser" category, whether in skating, golf, or motorcycling, drives a great deal of the marketability of the given sport. Do skateboard apparel companies target Tony Hawk as their target market? Of course not, they sell millions of dollars to the fans. In a sense, the current unicycle economy only targets the "skilled market" and has no fan category.

Just this afternoon I ran across an older gentleman decked out in full racing lycra and riding what looked like a very expensive triathlon bicycle. I say "ran across," but it was almost "ran into" because he very awkwardly and slowly missed the bike lane and turned too wide right in front of my car. Thankfully he was (laboriously) going around 5mph so I avoided him.

My point? Clearly this guy wasn't going to be riding in the tour de France, yet he still bought a few thousand dollars of gear. That's where all the money is in any given sport, and we currently lack anything resembling that sort of following.
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Old 2016-02-29, 07:36 PM   #59
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It might be equally intriguing and uninformative to ask why unicycling hasn't taken off like pizza or birth control.
Or less or more: "Why isn't unicycling an X-games sport?".
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Old 2016-03-07, 05:59 PM   #60
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I think the answer is "zero"; at least, zero coverage as a sporting event. There were some "hey, this crazy guy from our town is doing this thing in Nova Scotia" stories. Tourism stories in Nova Scotia. Posts here. That's it.

RTL was a logistical nightmare to organize and likely lost money, which is likely why it wasn't repeated. And it didn't do anything to move the needle on unicycling being perceived as a mainstream sport.
I absolutely agree that RTL did little to make unicycling a mainstream sport on a macro level.

In our case, RTL launched unicycling regionally.

More thoughts on that are here.
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