December 1, 2010

A Unicycle Made For Two

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Picture this: A unicyclist headed down Libe Slope, hair standing up in the breeze. We all know many a crazy time has been had on the slope (need I mention Slope Day?), and many a wild ride as well (illegal snow sports, perhaps). But who knew that unicycles had also braved those steep inclines? Better yet, who knew we had a Unicycling Club here at Cornell?Just ask club founders Anil Singhal (‘13), David Schneider (‘13) and Ryan Devlin (‘13), who can tell you all about the many activities of the club- all centered around the one-wheeled wonder of course. The club is in it’s first year at Cornell, resurrected in Ithaca by these three close friends, who had originally started a unicycling club together at their high school. “As friends, it was a chance for us to have fun and get together,” says Anil, the current club President. “Ryan got a unicycle from his grandmother as a Christmas present one year, and the rest is history.” And a part of Cornell history, now. “We were determined. Everyday before track practice, we would ride. In two weeks, we had the basics down,” current Vice President, David, notes. Just to give you an idea of their expertise, free mounting and riding backwards are what he is referring to as the basics. For the inexperienced, the best piece of advice Anil could give was, “You have to get over the fact that it has one wheel, and then it is just like riding a bike.” The club members all share a passion for the thrill of the one-wheeled ride. “We like to off-road sometimes,” admits David. Although as one can imagine, during the fall, leaves often pose a problem when riding on the trails. Nonetheless, the club often rides across campus for recruiting purposes, and even up to the Plantations for a challenging trip. David recalls one of his favorite times unicycling. “We played with a bunch of local kids on bicycles- a variance of polo I guess. They had ski poles with pipe attached and hit a ball around, but unicycles are maneuverable, so we definitely had the edge,” he says. The group isn’t without a competitive spirit.If you couldn’t picture the first scenario mentioned, try imagining a team of unicyclists making an almost 40-mile bike ride around Cayuga Lake in the annual local race. Well, truthfully, they didn’t make it the entire way. But the club did put together a team of 6-8 riders who took turns every couple miles. “Going more than a mile or two on a unicycle is a pure pain,” says Anil. I can believe it. When the weather gets too miserable, you won’t see a unicycle slipping through the snow. Instead, every Saturday morning during the winter there is a gym in downtown Ithaca where the club members all ride. “It should be known that you don’t have to know how to ride a unicycle to join the club. In fact, we are expecting you don’t,” says David. And lucky you, the club will be starting some indoor teaching lessons soon. Says Anil, “Not being afraid to fall is really the key to riding a unicycle. Actually, contrary to popular belief, you land on your feet every time.” Sounds to me like a good life lesson for any new venture. So if you need a little adventure in your life, and you want to live on the edge, give it a spin. To your surprise, the unicycle may be just the vehicle to your happiness.

Original Author: Alice Cope