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Local Unicyclist Raises Awareness for Sport

Randi Walle Randi Walle Local Unicyclist Raises Awareness for SportPhotos by Randi Walle.
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The unicycle has been around for over 100 years, most commonly associated with jugglers, circus acts, and street performers. Although those are popular forms of unicycling, the sport has expanded to include several other variations. Before the 1980s, cyclists who wished to off-road were limited to standard two-wheel bicycles. One adventurer, tired of breaking standard unicycles on rough terrain, designed a mountain unicycle, and the sport of extreme unicycling was made possible.

A little over a year ago, Columbus extreme sportsman Tom Schneider happened upon a unicycle at a garage sale. Reminiscent of his childhood, Schneider purchased the cycle for $5. Just like riding a bicycle, the knowledge of how to ride a unicycle came back to him. Eventually, he invested in two other unicycles — a mountain unicycle and a long-distance street unicycle. The serious unicycles range from $700-$1500, although a basic learner’s unicycle can be purchased for around $150.

As a sky diver, rock climber, and repeller, Schneider was looking for a new sport that would provide exercise and thrill while requiring 100 percent focus. Mountain unicycling was exactly what he was looking for.  The special cycle built with a sturdy frame and deep tread tires is made for off-roading in all terrain, just like a two-wheel mountain bicycle.

Over the past year, Schneider has used his unicycling skills in several fundraisers. Next week he is riding in Pelotonia, planning to average a speed of 10.5 mph for the duration of his participation. Schneider also rode 50 miles to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish foundation, and to raise funds to purchase bicycles for orphanages in Cambodia through the organization Asia’s Hope. A dream of Schneider’s is to organize a team of unicyclists to continue to raise funds through their sport to help others. He also has a desire to visit the orphanages in Cambodia and teach unicycling to the kids.

Schneider hopes to spark a new wave of unicyclists in the Columbus area. He encourages people to reach out to him if they have any interested in learning the sport, and he would love to have a semi-regular meeting with fellow unicyclists in the area. For more information, Schneider can be reached at his email address [email protected].

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