Friday, December 31st, 2010
Max – “My cousin in Maine got me into unicycling. I am not sure how he got into it, but now he rides down mountains and all kinds of crazy stuff on a unicycle. I was staying with him in Maine about five years ago when I was 11, and he had one lying around the house. I decided that I wanted to learn, so I spent eight hours one day teaching myself.
“When you start, you pretty much fall every few seconds. I had a tree next to me and used it for balance and could eventually go a few feet without falling. By the end of the day, I could go about 25 feet. I eventually got a hang of things and realized that a lot of the balance is in your hips, so you need to twist your hips to correct yourself as you are falling. Once I figured it out, I decided to really get into it and I asked my parents for a unicycle. They weren’t all for it at first. They were like, “Wow, unicycling? Really?” When they saw how much I liked it, they really got behind it and bought me one online because it is not like we have unicycle stores on every corner here.
“I started off riding mostly by myself in Falls Church where I live, but since I go to Gonzaga and spend a lot of time in the city, I eventually met this guy, Joseph Neigh, who organizes a bunch of the unicyclists in D.C. and Virginia. We meet up and go all over the city, looking for places that are not flat and have lots of benches, obstacles, and rails. I think that Pershing Park is one of the best places to unicycle in the city.
“In general, unicyclists get a bad rap. If someone sees you pushing a unicycle down the street, they expect you to be riding in circles and juggling or something like that. After they see what we do, like hopping, jumping on stuff, and doing rails, then they have a little more respect for it. Sometimes cops will even sit around and watch us instead of kicking us out of the park. So, that’s pretty cool.”
Aidan – “I got into riding about two and a half years ago. A friend from Hungary came over to visit and he brought a unicycle. It is really big in Europe, but has been slow to pick up here. While I was born in D.C., I actually go to school in Hungary this year. I was going to Washington Waldorf school, but as I am Hungarian, I wanted to try something different and decided to do a study abroad. Now that I am home for the holidays, I am hanging out with my friends and unicycling. There is such a great community of people here and I couldn’t ask for better friends, like Max.
“Like Max, it took me a while to learn. After I got my first unicycle, I practiced in my driveway, holding onto the wall and trying to get my balance. After about three days, I got it. It helps if you know how to ride a bicycle, but you also have to work on your front-back balance and not just your left-right. It is a really slow process, but it came gradually. While I like unicycling in D.C., I prefer Hungary and downtown Bethesda because all of the spots are really close to each other. I guess it doesn’t really matter where I am as long as there are good places to ride with obstacles to places to do tricks.”