Brothers Colin, Luke and Taylor Nobles of New York have spurred a growing interest in the unique sport.
The seat on 12-year-old Taylor Nobles’ 5-foot giraffe unicycle is taller than he is. Named for its height, the pedals are about chest high.
Standing under the open garage door, he rests the tire against the house and uses the wall to mount the towering cycle. Gingerly, he places his right foot on the tire, followed by his left foot to a pedal. Finally, he’s on the seat, still holding onto the wall. From that vantage point, he’s taller than most adults.
The comes the actual pedaling part. Although he’s only had the giraffe unicycle for less than a month, Taylor rides it with ease.
“You really have to face your fears,” he said of the sport which requires, balance, patience and lots of practice.
The family’s obsession with unicycling started with Luke, 14. Next came Colin, 17, and then Taylor.
“When you’re learning it feels impossible,” Colin said, “but once you get up and start going ... it’s kind of like floating.”
Pretty soon, they got their friends, and even their brothers involved. Even their mother Lisa would like to learn.
First-grader at Churchville-Chili Elementary, Kenny Carr is the youngest of the crew. He started last summer on a Torquer CX, a beginner’s cycle.
“It’s like a bike, but it’s only one wheel,” he said. “There’s no handlebars, there’s not another wheel, and you balance by keeping your arms out.”
He was inspired to start by his brother Joey Carr, 12, who also picked up the sport last summer.
“It was hard, but they (the Nobles) made it look easy, so I thought I could do it,” he said. “I learned eventually. I practiced almost every night for a half hour to an hour. It took me about two weeks.”
The group has been meeting to practice together as the Churchville Unicycle Club. They practice at each other’s homes, or sometimes at a nearby gym. They’ve also done demonstrations for their Boy Scout Troop. Most of the boys belong to Boy Scout Troop 292. They all attend school in Churchville-Chili.
“It helps to ride in a group because you can ask other people and they know what they did to learn,” said Joey.
Lisa Nobles said she and her husband Gary were a bit unsure when Luke asked for a unicycle several years ago for Christmas, but Luke worked hard to master it.
“It’s a great confidence builder to be able to pick up the unicycle,” she said.
And when Luke’s brothers saw how much attention Luke’s new hobby garnered, she said, they decided to try it.
“With the three of them, they draw that much more attention,” she said.
Colin rides a Muni, which is a unicycle with knobby tires. It can do anything a mountain bike can do, including trails and tricks. Colin enjoys hopping around on the rocks out front of his house on his Muni. The bike is designed to handle six-foot drops. The most Colin’s attempted is a foot-and-a-half.
He said the sport has grown in popularity as the cost of cycles has gone down. Riding takes balance and coordination, he said. Unicycles start at about $60 and can cost upwards of a couple thousand dollars.
To start off on a unicycle, he said, you need a deck, step or curb to lean the wheel against, with a pole or wall to help you stay upright. Once you can mount the seat, Colin said, the pedaling motion resembles an inverted pendulum. Instead of a fluid pedaling motion, riding a unicycle requires “tiny little pedal adjustments.” Eventually, you can learn to free-mount.
Although it may not appear it, you can turn on a dime on a unicycle, said Colin.
“I can ride within two inches of a person, stop, back up and ride away,” he said.
When Taylor saw his brothers catching on to the sport, he didn’t want to miss out on the fun. He rode a Torquer CX for two years before getting a giraffe for Christmas this year. Now riding a bike is cake, he said.
Like the T-shirt he and his brother Luke ordered online, “it takes twice the man to ride half the bike.”
Amy Cavalier can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 243, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.