Reasons to (not) ride a unicycle

Aug 03, 2011


by Jack Brockley

A few years ago, I agreed to ride a unicycle in my Kiwanis club’s annual parade. I was a bit rusty, but I thought I did pretty well along the 1½-mile route. I only had two unplanned dismounts. (That third one didn’t count, because a bug flew in my eye. Honest!)

Crossing the finish line without a scrape or bruise, I turned back to watch other units complete the route. And there he was. Another unicyclist! A competitor!

Now, I can ride a unicycle. And I can juggle. But this guy could do both at the same time. He was juggling tennis balls. He was juggling basketballs. He probably juggled flaming batons and chainsaws. Plus, he was riding one of those gigantic unicycles—at least 6 feet tall. Maybe 10 feet. Or 12.

My unicycle’s pedals are only about three to four inches off the ground.

Oh, the humiliation! I imagined spectators comparing us:

“Which was your favorite?”

“Are you kidding? The second one, of course. He could juggle. And he was up so high. That first guy looked terrified and he wiggled all over the place like he was going to crash into the marching band.”

“Yeah, the second rider was better, by far.”

I was crushed. If I had known another unicyclist would be riding in the parade, I would have deferred to his superior performance and volunteered for clean-up duty behind the prancing ponies.

But in the ensuing days (and years), I changed my mind—and my attitude. After all, I accomplished my club’s goal: to entertain the spectators. Children laughed when I fell … that is, when I unexpectedly dismounted. Their parents called out, “Hey, you lost half your bike,” and credited themselves for being quite witty. And even when the superior cyclist showed up a few minutes later, I gave them with a happy parade memory.

And that’s a good thing.

What’s your favorite embarrassing Kiwanis story?

photos courtesy of Karl Horton and anaxila under cc by-nd 2.0

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