Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Unicycle Club

Mary and I went to our first unicycle club on Monday. Mary was a bit nervous about not doing so well or just not having fun. I was excited about getting on the unicycle, but figured I'd be all intimidated. We had to drive around a little bit to find the gym, but we knew we'd hit pay dirt when a kid hopped out of a minivan wearing a helmet. Sure enough, he rode down the sidewalk, up the ramp, and into the gym.

My first impression was, damn, there are a lot of little kids here. A good 8-10 kids, most of whom were no older than 8 years, all zipping around - barely wobbling. That was a tad intimidating. They were racing, playing catch, picking balls off the ground w/out stopping, and two even looked like they were playing roller-derby on unicycles.

Of course the first non-kid I see is a 20-something guy wearing shin guards, riding on a fat-tired, Kris Holm unicycle with the optional hydraulic brake. He'd casually jump on the bike (yup, no one-footed mount, he hopped on with both feet at the same time), pedal around, stop, hop a few times, and ride on.

But we mustered up the courage and walked in - glad we brought our helmets b/c everyone was wearing one (turns out, safety is a requirement). Angela, the lady who runs the club, came up to us nice as could be, and told us she'd help us in a min, right after she helped some beginner kids. So she gave us the basic tips, and held one of Mary's hands (I held the other) and we helped Mary down the length of the gym and back. Wow, on the first try, Mary rode 200' w/out falling off the unicycle. I did almost as well on my first try w/Angela's and Mary's help.

Angela went and mingled with other unicyclists and jugglers, occasionally helping out the lone cyclist. Mary and I tentatively kept at it - even getting a lending hand from a father whose kid was somewhere in the gym with other kids. By the end of the night, our legs were tired, but we were both excited about the possibilities of cycling on our own. Mary gained a huge amount of confidence, and I rode 50 feet and then 100 feet w/out assistance, I was stoked.

The club is very informal, people of all sorts of abilities (except for the kids, they're all good) just come to hang out and try to get better at cycling. A number of the guys there do muni, so I hope to begin to pick their brains when I get up the courage to try it. I know Mary is going to roll her eyes when she hears me ask for another bike (is a unicycle 1/2 a bike?). But the one I'm riding is not rated for drops of any height, let alone by someone who weighs 250#. We'll see.

Oh, plus, I got one of the best xmas gifts ever, the unicycle video Into the Thunder Dragon, starring the best mountain unicyclist ever: Kris Holm. Wow, awesome video. I could watch that again right now.

Needless to say, I am totally hooked, it's all I could do to get any work done today. All I thought about was unicycling.

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