Photo credit: Carrie Ann Dawkins
Mention Unicycling and most people think of comedy unicycling, clowns or jugglers, in fact there is a discipline within unicycling called comedy, but its just one of many styles. Freestyle is another style; a cross between ballet and figure skating on a unicycle. Another discipline is Mountain, which is self explanatory and then there is Street unicycling, which is a bit like Free Running but on a unicycle.
Big Street is the same, just more extreme. Like jumping off a five foot wall and twisting round 360 degrees, maybe 540 or the Holy Grail of Big Street Unicycling a 720 twist. To reiterate what this means to a non unicyclist…. Throw yourself off a wall (one you’d think twice about jumping off on foot) whilst sitting on a one wheeled bike with no brakes and spinning around twice before you hit the ground then cycling off.
They have been landed (a term used in unicycling for performing a trick and landing perfectly then continuing to cycle onwards) outside the U.K, but a perfect 720 according to unicycle sources has not been landed in the U.K with an independent witness or filmed.
Three people in the world have verified witnesses and footage of a 720 they are Max Shulze of America, Eddie Ducol of France and Edmund Luduc of Canada.
The man trying to be the first in the U.K is Ben Scott. The word amongst the Unicycling scene is that Ben is the man most likely to achieve it in the U.K. He’s got close and even has footage of attempts with the right amount of spin but with an awkward landing. He’s confident it will happen this summer… in the meantime his tricks are getting bigger and bolder.
A few weeks ago whilst stuck in a traffic jam for nearly two hours he and his two friends got their unicycles out of the boot and started performing tricks to amuse the stationery, hot, bored drivers. Dash-cam footage found its way on to the local papers website.
I won’t condone what he did, unicycling on a dual carriageway but I can see why he did it.
The other tricks he is working on are –
- Front Flip, hurtling forward off a wall then throwing yourself forward off balance (think going over your bike handlebars) and flipping 360 degrees head over heels before landing a few feet below
- Uniwhip, Jumping off the Unicycle and whilst in the air, flipping the bike 360 degrees top over tail underneath you, then landing back on it.
- Unispin, Again jumping off the unicycle then spinning the bike around sideways as many times as you can before landing back on it, This is one of Ben’s regular tricks, he’s just trying to spin the bike faster with more rotations.
I managed to keep him still for five minutes and talk to him. If he isn’t on his unicycle, he’s on his mountain bike at Cannock Chase or hurtling the ten miles between his house and his girlfriends house on his Road Bike.
I joined Ben on one of his Road bike training rides, I managed to get several Strava personal bests while out with him. His confidence was frightening, filtering through gaps I was sure didn’t exist a second before (or after) he went through them, again not exactly something I would recommend but certainly impressive in a slightly scary way. I waited and went through larger more cycle friendly gaps, then belted at top speed to catch him up. He wasn’t slowing down and waiting for me… honest, okay he might have been but he has got nearly thirty years on me.
He’s currently riding his spare unicycle (is it his N+0.5?) as his bestie is being custom painted and he’s rebuilding its wheel on to a hub he’s glitter painted.
I have in the past toyed with the idea of buying a unicycle, I’ve even got as far as the correct pages on Amazon and Ebay (other buying websites are available) only to be stopped by an insistent wife… ‘But they’re only thirty quid’ I replied, ‘It’s not the money, it’s just you are the clumsiest person I know, please stick to two wheels’ she explained (perhaps in stronger terms.)
So cue the interview I had with Ben.
‘So’ he asked, ‘have you ever been on a unicycle?’
‘Err, I thought I was asking the questions.’
‘Well, have you?’
Ten seconds later I was sitting on his unicycle with hand on a nearby wall, I just couldn’t pluck up the courage to push off and go for it. The reason? I thought the phone call to my day job boss explaining the broken leg/arm/neck (delete as appropriate) could be an issue.
So I reluctantly got off and left the unicycling to the expert.
Ben got into Unicycling to upstage his brother who is a skateboarder, snow boarded and skis. Ben decided to go one better and started unicycling. His brother tried but couldn’t cut it. Ben found unicycling almost spiritual in the early days as it required so much concentration everything else was purged from the mind.
It was his form of meditation.
It hasn’t always been great fun; once at an event he had a catastrophic leg break that kept his leg in traction (and his Mum on a mattress on the floor next to him) at an hospital in very rural Wales for two weeks before he could be moved back to the Midlands. Did it stop him? What do you reckon? He was back on his unicycle in six months, against his Doctors advice of course.
The Unicon World Championships is where he wants to end up, Ben is one of only a handful of U.K. Riders skilful enough to possibly earn a place, unfortunately there is no big money sponsorship deals in the sport and the next event is in South Korea next year, so as a student, he doubts he will be attending.
He once won an open talent contest (singers, dancers, etc) sponsored by Fox’s biscuits. his prize? An awful lot of biscuits of course.
He’s often to be found at his local skate park or on Burton library steps, while he was at the latter he attracted the attention of both the library staff and a certain young lady, who is now his girlfriend, he has tried to get her unicycling but at the moment she is resisting his charms in that department.
I have warned him one day he will stop bouncing and start bruising. If you want to check out his skills have a look at the video and click the links.
about the author
Simon Elson is a self confessed Mamil that got into cycling to hide his Lycra fetish. He is also the author of a bestselling Ebook on Type 2 diabetes and cycling called ‘Sugar Beat: How I controlled T2 Diabetes through cycling’