The Unicycle Diaries

Cue The Calliope Music

As we enjoy our annual week down here in Destin, Florida, I am always struck by all the different types of wheeled transportation rolling down Old 98. That’s the local name for the beach highway in front of our condo resort. Since yesterday was Saturday, the normally sleepy street was filled with cars, motorcycles, noisy little scooters, and three-wheeled go-carts. The sidewalk was also overflowing with skateboards, rollerblades, and bicycles. My wife and I rented a couple of bikes for the week, so we have become part of the mobile community cruising up and down the beach each day. For some reason, all of these vehicles sparked a memory of my unicycle days.

No, I had not run away and joined the circus. Although, I do have great respect for anyone who can ride a unicycle and juggle at the same time. Now, that requires some major concentration. A friend of mine named Bob had a really nice Schwinn unicycle, and I was fascinated with it. Once you learn how to ride a bicycle as a kid, it’s like driving a car as an adult. You just hopped on and started pedaling to get where you were going. You never gave it a second thought. Not so with a unicycle. Any ride down a city street was fraught with hazards. A pothole or crack in the road could knock you right off of the uni. You had to have quick reflexes, so you didn’t wind up doing a face plant in the middle of the street. That’s why I always rode close to the curb, so I could bail out for the grass if needed.

Eventually, I saved up enough money to buy an off-brand unicycle from a local bike shop. Since I already was fairly competent from riding Bob’s, it wasn’t long before I was, that guy on the unicycle. Part of the attraction of unicycle riding was being able to do something other people couldn’t do. Also, I incorrectly assumed that once I stood out from the crowd, girls would flock to me. Yeah, not so much. I do remember one time when I rode my unicycle quite a long way to a cute girl’s house to impress her. Then, I had to pedal my butt off to get back home. Since you never stop pedaling a unicycle (no coasting), it was a very long ride. I was walking bowlegged for a couple of days after that. Now that Memorial Day Weekend is coming up, I’m sure there will be some unicycle riders in the St. Clair Shores Parade. Better you than me, buddy. Maybe I’ll pay one of those kids a few bucks to see if I’ve still got it. Maybe not, my reflexes aren’t what they used to be.

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