Riders Taking to the Road on One Wheel
Jun 30, 2015 09:44PM ● Published by Veronica Tucker
“Since I didn’t know of anyone around who rode, and YouTube wasn’t really off the ground yet, I learned by trial and error,” said unicyclist and founder of Butler Wobble, Dave Krack, who started unicycling in 2005. “I’d been rocking two wheels for the better part of three decades, so it was time for a change, and unicycling took a lot more effort than biking.
“Trying to balance in all directions is not anything like riding a bike with no hands,” Krack added. “Once the basic skill of riding is learned, then the real fun begins.” While it can take an average of 10 hours to master riding on one wheel, Krack has found that through group classes, most people can learn the skills needed in five to seven hours.
And Krack’s love of unicycling seems to be contagious. His wife, Lisa, got the bug soon after seeing his enjoyment of the sport. “I would practice at a local park about once a week, and it took me a few months of these sessions to feel comfortable enough to say that I could ride a unicycle,” she explained.
After participating in a 500-mile unicycle team relay stage race in Nova Scotia in 2008 called Ride the Lobster, Krack and his wife were determined to share the fun with others when they returned. This led to the inception of the unicycling club, Butler Wobble. “A wobble is a collection of unicyclists like a gaggle of geese or a pride of lions,” said Dave Krack. “I had already been teaching classes at the YMCA, so when I approached the organization about having unicycling classes, they put us on the schedule.”
Unicycling is an equal opportunity sport. The Kracks have helped teach riders from ages 5 to 70 to cruise on one wheel. “Lisa and I learned that unicycling is a sport that kids and bigger kids can enjoy at almost any point in their lives,” said Dave Krack. “We’ve had well over 100 people learn to ride with us over the past six years, and while learning to ride can be done alone, it’s much more fun to learn with a group.” Loaner unicycles are provided at the YMCA.
For those wanting to learn to unicycle, Dave Krack offers the following tips: Put safety first with appropriate footwear and tucked in shoelaces; find a long, smooth, flat surface and a wall or fence to hold for support (such as on a tennis court); sit up and keep your weight on the seat; avoid looking at the tire, and don’t fall backwards!
The sport of unicycling is gaining in popularity around the North Hills as a result of the minimal equipment required and many Internet videos that have increased awareness of the sport. “It’s just plain fun,” said Lisa Krack. “We’ve met a number of great people. It’s helped with my coordination and balance, and unicycling is quite safe, despite its appearances and reputation.”
It’s also quite challenging. Dave Krack, who holds titles as a two-time North American Champion and Top 10 Unicyclist in the World, explains, “The athletic achievements of unicyclists can rival that of other sports. We race marathons at over 15 miles per hour. We compete in mountain bike races and don’t finish last. I have friends who can jump their unicycles well over three feet high, and others who have ridden to the base camp at Mt. Everest.”
If you feel up to the challenge, visit Butler Wobble at www.butlerwobble.com or THICK Bikes at www.thickbikes.com.