Peak Performer

By Hannah Wallace Photography by Ted Mase October 31, 2010

Nice Uni-Form!

How did you get into unicycling? When I was a kid up North, the Sears catalogue had a unicycle, and my parents got it for me for Christmas. I had it for a year and couldn’t figure out how to ride it. Then we moved to Sarasota, and I joined the Sailor Circus and they taught me how to ride it in a week. Every year or so I blew the dust off to make sure I could still ride. A couple of years ago, I was on YouTube and saw a guy riding crazy off-road stuff on a unicycle. I’d been riding mountain bikes, and I thought it would be neat to ride the unicycle on the trails.

How often do you ride? At least once a week, up at Rothenbach Park or the Legacy Trail. Sometimes I’ll ride to work—10 miles there and 10 miles back. It’s definitely a big attention grabber. You get a lot of really strange looks.

Competitions? Three other unicyclers and I did the Squiggy Classic Six-Hour Mountain Bike Race in Tampa, just for grins. We’re in the mountain bike class, but we’re really not competing with them. The bikers think it’s unbelievable that we ride on those trails—even though we’re in their way, they’re very receptive.

Benefits? It’s like jogging, it’s so strenuous. You have to balance, and you have to pedal constantly. Your upper thigh muscles get a really good workout. I wear a heart rate monitor, and my heart rate gets up to 170. When I was training for the 2009 Asheville MUni [mountain unicycle] Fest, I actually reduced my cholesterol by 30 points.

Tips for people who want to learn? It’s just like walking: When you walk, you lean forward and you start to fall, so you put your foot forward to catch yourself. Just like that in unicycling: You lean forward, you start to fall, and you pedal so you don’t fall over.

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