One-wheeled Icebreaker

Tell us one thing about yourself that someone who has known you for a long time may not even know about you.

This was our icebreaker for my Bible study this week. My friend Kristen is in my group and we have known each other since before we could drive. When it came around to me, I did some serious confessing:

I can unicycle. I mean, I just retired from unicycling.

Here is a video from one of my final rides so you know I’m not lying.

Brit’s Unicycle Video

“How does one get into unicycling?” you ask. Well, let me tell you. In late elementary school my father married a lady who had family in a tiny town in north Texas. We visited this teeny village in Tornado Alley with regularity. One day, we explored the cellar and I noticed an old unicycle. And since there was nothing to do anyway, I decided I would learn to ride it. So there, under a carport, back and forth between its dainty wrought iron posts, I taught myself this niche leisure activity. The unicycle was rusted and the right pedal kept falling off, but I had a duct tape routine that kept her alive and rolling.

I visited Teeny Village every other holiday with my father, including a week during the summer. All I remember doing was mastering this singular wheel (and getting so frustrated every time the pedal would fall off). And then, a few years later, I woke up on Christmas morning, in the room on the other side of that very carport, and guess what Santa had brought me: A Schwinn Summit Unicycle.

1976_schwinn_unicycle

It was gorgeous and not 30 years old or broken and all mine! Of course, my stepmother insisted that we keep my one-wheeled jewel at their house, so my practice was limited to every other weekend, but practice I did when those alternating weekends came.

My dad would walk alongside me and help me get going when I’d fall, but I learned how to fall well and only endured a few major bang-ups.

The metal guard on the front of my seat was a scraped up mess by the time I ended middle school. I rarely went to my dad’s house during high school and at some point they let me take my once-beloved unicycle home to my mom’s house (now that I didn’t care about it anymore, of course). By 11th grade, my mom was remarrying and I hadn’t thought or talked about unicycling in years. My mom was having a garage sale and I must have shrugged when she asked me if I still wanted the old thing. It was pretty busted by then and the last thing my popularity-seeking mind was interested in was a unicycle. How dorky! Who cares? I don’t need that thing.

My dad would often bring up the unicycle and I would skirt the issue and pretend I didn’t know that my mom had sold it in a garage sale for some heartbreakingly low sum. And so I settled into a 10+ year break from the circus-hobby of my youth.

Until, years into marriage, when I began truly living again, my husband bought me a unicycle on Craigslist. I’m not sure how he even got the idea, but I remember it appearing at our house. And I could still do it!

I rode a few times here and there before I had kids. It hung in our garage for years and my son asked me if I would do it. All it took was an evening at Cirque Du Soleil to push me over the edge. I watched a guy do a full-on dance routine, whilst unicycling! It made me want to bust out my uni then and there.

The following day, I did! My neighbors definitely think (or know) that I’m a weirdo now, but I was so pleased that I could still do this thing that I’d poured so many of my childhood hours into. I rode down the street and even began to feel some confidence.

But that’s where I got in trouble.

Just as I was feeling good, I pedaled up to my husband, and suddenly the wheel flew out from under me. I landed on my butt and palms. It hurt! And I’ve been sore for two weeks now! My palms were torn up and my tailbone still barks.

That’s when I considered how dangerous my little pastime can be and decided to officially retire. I’m glad we got my final (before the BIG fall) on video because there aren’t any pictures of my during my duct tape pedal or Schwinn Summit days. The Craigstlist wheel did the job, but I still wish I had my old Schwinn, with its endless scrapes that told stories. In the end, I suppose this is the story I have.

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