The Balance of Mind & Body
~ Carmen Schwarz
There is a balance to everything in the outdoor world. Whether speaking about the environment and the animals that live within that environment, or the human factor and how humans must work hard (harder) to balance themselves within their surrounding environment. But there is also one very interesting sport that some actually see as relaxing, which is based on pure balance. And that, is the world of the unicyclist.
For a very long time the unicycle, in peoples’ minds, was simply something in a circus act. A way for one person to entertain crowds. However, it has become, over the decades, an actual sport that people love to do. It not only helps the physical body but it also helps the mental realm. The power of the unicycle is that it stimulates the brain as much as, say, a crossword puzzle or some crazy app that people are using on their cell phones to keep their minds in tip-top shape. It is also, in the end, one of the most unique sports that exists in this day and age.
Coming about in the late 19th century (but some say way before), the strange connection of pedals and cranks to a front axle, allowed a rider to move forward while the rear wheel went up in the air. And then, if they were really good, the tricks would begin.
As with all forms of technology, the unicycle has gone through many different designs. And with the world moving as fast as it is now, the 21st century has shown that inventors and thrill-seekers are not done with the unicycle.
It was during the late 1980s that the unicycle was added to the extreme sports category. The unicycle was modified to not only do more, but also to head into off-road situations for both fun and competition. So not only was the unicycle being used on the street, but the extreme sports enthusiast decided it would be a great way to ride up extremely steep mountains.
Unicycles do have many things that are comparable to the regular bicycle family. Wheels, pedals, saddles, etc., but a rider needs far more than the ability to sit up straight, they must have stability and the ultimate skill of being balanced at all times.
For those who do not know the construction of the unicycle (except for the big wheel, of course), that wheel has a special hub design so that the axle is fixed, which means the rotation of the cranks directly control the rotation of the wheel. And there are a slew of unicycle designs so that people are able to learn all if they choose. The off-road unicycle is not the only choice; there are also freestyle unicycles, mountain unicycles, and even something called the Giraffe unicycle.
Freestyle is just what it says it is; these unicycles are utilized for flatlands and freestyle, fun routines. A Trials unicycle is much stronger than others because they are definitely for the tricksters who love to jump, spin and drop, so the mechanical design has to support these functions without sending the rider to the ground.
The Mountaineers need far larger tires, of course, because of nature’s obstacles that are put in their path. And the seat, itself, is far thicker in order for the rider’s body to sustain the pain. You wouldn’t believe that anyone would want to put themselves through the pain of cycling for long, but you would be wrong. Touring unicycles have also been made for people who wish to go across country in a very extraordinary way.
But above them all, the Giraffe is the most fun to look at and ride. This is a chain-driven unicycle which makes the cycle a great deal taller. And with no limit on the seat height, it is great fun to watch a pro in action.
As the technology gets better, self-balancing unicycles that have computer-controlled, self-balancing abilities have come on the market. But…let’s be honest, if you want to claim real unicyclist skills – learn to do it the way our ‘forefathers’ did and, remember, the mind must definitely be attuned with the body in order to achieve success.