Things not to do (on a Unicycle)

This light hearted theme originated in the UNICYCLING QUARTERLY magazine put out by the International Unicycling Federation in the 1980s and later appeared in On One Wheel from the Unicycling Society of America. It features humorous photos of things that are not advisable to do on, with or near unicycles. The numbers correspond with the order in which they were published. Your submissions are welcome. Please read the disclaimer at the bottom.

#1: Riding down sand dunes #1:  Riding down sand dunes
This was October 1985 at Belle Terre, on the north shore of Long Island. That spot on the dune is John Foss riding his unicycle in the soft sand, which came up to the axle of his 20".Afterward, one pedal had to be rebuilt, and the axle and bearings had to be replaced due to sand contamination and other problems. Was it worth it? Photo by Bradley Bradley.  (UNICYCLING 1/3, Fall 1987)

#2: Trying to stop a car on snow #2:  Trying to stop a car with a unicycle; on snow
This picture was taken in 1980 in Livonia, Michigan. The rider wishes to remain nameless (I was the photographer, so don't look at me!). This activity is called "shagging" or "skitching" (or something else) depending where you live. Needless to say, the car kept going the single wheel was not able to be kept under the rider, and it was a "drag" for the ill-fated unicyclist, who got snow all over him. This image appeared in the Winter 1992 On One Wheel.

#3: Coasting with no feet #3:  Coasting with no feet on the frame
Ask anyone including this rider, Sem Abrahams, and they will tell you that this simply will not work. In case you're wondering how Sem did it here, remember that the camera lies. Let's just say it was a "brief" demonstration. This picture was taken at Sem's Unicycle Sportclub in 1983. (OOW Spring 1992 -- UNICYCLING 6/2)

#4: Giraffe unicycle coasting, in a headstand #4:  Giraffe unicycle coasting, in a headstand
This rider is a professional. If you are thinking of trying this trick, first get "professional" help. Pictured is Kip Vennix of Livonia, MI in 1980, and this picture was taken about 100' away from our #2 "Thing"! (OOW XVIII/2, Spring 1992 -- UNICYCLING 6/2)

Hey. Who said he was hanging from a tree branch?

#5: Riding where you definitely shouldn't! #5:  Riding where you definitely shouldn't!
Intrepid unicyclist Bradley Bradley (no kidding) is posing atop a high pole in Washington Square Park in Manhattan. This picture was taken on May 25, 1986. Bradley, Ken Fuchs and your editor had just participated in Hands Across America, where we held hands with hundreds of thousands of people all the way across the country. Of course we did it while on unicycles (we were not the only unicyclists involved). Bradley was the same guy a couple of issues back trying to stop the car with his unicycle in the snow . . . (OOW XVIII/3, Summer 1992 -- UNICYCLING 6/3)

#6: Riding on top of the swing-set
Bill Karbo supplied a picture of this, which appeared in On One Wheel. If someone can send me this picture, or a scan of it, I'd like to add it here.

#7: Unicycle Para-Sailing #7:  Sammy Hellwig: Unicycle Para-Sailing
"In 1991 I stayed in a holiday club in Djerba, Tunisia. I flew sitting on my unicycle with my parachute behind a speedboat. I never felt it so easy to turn my pedals . . .  We timed my landing close to the swimming pool. It was perfect, and I could ride on without any step on the ground. But my big parachute, 60 sq. yards, floated down on the people laying in the sun chairs. The people were shocked when the parachute came down and gave a big shade. The guests from the hotel were very embarrassed and did not enjoy it. The hotel director gave me friendly advice to change hotels . . .  This is one thing you don't have to do on a unicycle -- but I enjoy things not to do."  Sammy  (Photo courtesy Sammy Hellwig)  (OOW 19/2, Spring 1993 -- UNICYCLING 7/2)

#8: David Ramos; Giraffe scuba diving #8:  David Ramos; Giraffe scuba diving
1986: Crash Boat Beach, near Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The unicycle is a poor means of underwater transportation, because of the lack of traction due to rider buoyancy. Also, flippers can make pedaling slightly difficult. However, this might be a good method for learning to ride, because falls are virtually eliminated! David Ramos was an early member of the unicycle club in Isabela, and a rider on the undefeated Puerto Rico All Stars unicycle basketball team at UNICONs I-IV (UNICON IV was only a few miles from where this picture was taken). David now lives in Lancaster, PA. (Photo courtesy David Ramos)  (OOW 19/3, Summer 1993 -- UNICYCLING 7/3)

#9: Great Wall stuck #9:  Getting stuck in the battlements when riding on the edge of the Great Wall
August 1993. At the Great Wall Marathon event in China, Stephen Dressler, an American living in Hong Kong, was celebrating. What you can't see here is the 40' (13 meter) vertical drop behind him. That's why this is a thing not to do, while riding on the actual wall is fairly safe. It seems fitting that Steve, the first man known to unicycle on the Great Wall back in 1986, should be showing us this thing not to do.  (OOW 19/4, Winter 1993 -- UNICYCLING 7/4)

#10: Riding in Tiananmen Square # 10:  Riding in Tiananmen Square
Jack Halpern and John Foss, August 17, 1993. What better place could there be for an American and an Israeli to take a unicycle ride than where freedom was "killed" in 1989? Fortunately, Great Wall Marathon host Zhao Yanyang saved them from the police and prevented their arrest. Tiananmen (meaning "Gate of Heavenly Peace") is the largest public square in the world, covering 98 acres! The intrepid unicyclists rode for only about 20 seconds before they were stopped by police. Photo by Steve Dressler.

#11: Cliff hang # 11: "This looks like a good place for a hanging!"
John Foss, former Editor of Unicycling Quarterly, the newsletter of the International Unicycling Federation, created a series that he called "Things not to do on a unicycle." Well, it seems that John has taken this one step further and is now abusing his unicycle. John's unicycle is hanging off a cliff in Great Falls, Montana along the Missouri River near Giant Springs. This photo was his 1995 Christmas/Holiday card.

#13: Riding on a velodrome #13: Riding on a velodrome
Ludwigshafen, West Germany 1986. This photo was not staged, I actually caught him in mid-bail! This is Greg Milstein of New York, losing it on the steeply banked curve. Velodromes are great for bicycles and other vehicles that go faster than unicycles, but are too steep for us. Especially when they have wet leaves on the turns! Greg was at Landesleistungszentrum Radsport (cycling center) taking a training course in artistic bicycling with John Foss and other riders from around the world.

#14: Dogfighting on giraffes #14: Dogfighting (Gladiators/Sumo/Demolition Derby) on giraffes
Livonia, Michigan 1981. Bradley Bradley (l) and John Foss doing a silly Pairs performance on Schwinn giraffes at the Redford Mini-Meet in which they engaged in some unicycle wrestling, fell down, and chased each other out of sight. Though giraffe dogfighting might be fun to watch on the X Games, I wouldn't do it.

#15: Taking the escalator #15: Taking the escalator
Las Vegas, Nevada, July 1995. At the International Jugglers Association Festival, a midnight unicycle tour of the Strip was announced, and four riders attended. In front, John Spinosa from Seattle, WA. Behind him is Rhonda Tyson from Chicago, a Unicycling Society member from way back. On top is August Becerra of Las Vegas. The fourth unicyclist is behind the camera (as usual, me). Las Vegas is probably the only place in the world where you can take an escalator just to get across the street! Yes, this is one of four bridges at the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and Flamingo Ave. In the background you can see the Excalibur Hotel Casino. Though using this bridge is definitely safer than crossing at street level, a good unicyclist should always use the stairs.

#16: Riding off the roof into a snowbank #16:  Riding off the roof into a giant snow bank

Paul Smiths College, New York, 1987. This town is waaay upstate New York, near Lake Placid, where the 1980 Winter Olympics were held. The high that day was -11 degrees f, which is cold enough to freeze the foam in your seat! Long icicles hang in the background and the unicycle is covered with snow. I used this picture for my 1989 Christmas card.

#17: Riding off Tokyo Tower # 17: Riding Off Tokyo Tower
Downtown Tokyo, August 1987. After UNICON III, a large group of unicyclists took a riding tour of Tokyo. Three of them made a side trip to Tokyo Tower, Japan's version of the Eiffel Tower. Only one of those three took the elevator down. That's Ken Fuchs and Harold Herzig down there, reinforcing once again the image of Americans to the Japanese people.     Tokyo Tower

#18: Backing the car over it # 18:  Backing the car over it
The Unicycle Factory, Kokomo, Indiana, January 1983. Like many of us, Tom Miller maintains a small collection of broken unicycles and parts. This poor old Schwinn must have been laying in the driveway when Mom backed the car out. Hope nobody was riding it at the time!

#19: Riding on the Moon # 19:  Riding on the Moon
If you're really riding on the Moon, you have to keep a close eye on tire pressure! This is actually Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. Miles and miles of lava floes, caves and cones really do make this place look as desolate and lifeless as the Moon. It needs a nice, bright red unicycle to liven things up. Of course you are not allowed to ride there (I didn't), and who would want to? Okay, I guess I know a few people.

#20: Riding on glare ice # 20:  Riding on Glare Ice
Redford, Michigan, 1981. This was the kind of ice you could barely stand up on. Due to the black & white nature of the picture I guess you could call it "black ice." Of course you'll have to take my word for that. The slightest false move and the unicycle went zipping out from under me like a watermelon seed! The ice wasn't very thick either. Photo by Bradley Bradley.

#21: Riding one handed on a trampoline # 21:  Riding one handed on a trampoline
Purchase, NY 1983. At the 1983 International Jugglers Association Festival a few madcap unicyclists found a room with these neat toys in it. That's Scott Baccus from Texas showing us what not to do. This is especially true if the room has a low ceiling.

#22: Jumping over 3 1/2 people #22:  Jumping over 3 1/2 people
Syracuse, New York, 1984. Before the official events started at UNICON I (the first world championships), I attempted to jump over four members of the Japan team. The guy with his head up is Naoki Kudo, who won the King award at UNICON III. Next to him is Hiromi Futamura, the second best Freestyle competitor at UNICON III. On the far left, the "half man" as it were, is the well known, multiple world champion of Freestyle and Racing, Yuichiro Kato! Look how small he was! Barely half a person width. Did I successfully make this jump? No.  That's Al Hemminger back there telling me not to do it. . .

#23: Sideways wheel walking a peanut wheel on a wire # 23:  Sideways wheel walking a peanut shaped wheel (on a slack wire yet)
Yes, it's Russian circus performer Vladimir Serov, as seen elsewhere at this website. This picture has been a victim of Kai's Power Goo, a program that makes it fun and easy to make round wheels square (or peanut shaped). Even without the squashed wheel, there are still several things here you shouldn't do (starting with the costume).

Swinging over the bottomless puddle # 24:  Swinging over the bottomless puddle
Yes, it's Bill Karbo again. Here he's at the 1995 National Unicycle Convention in Bowling Green, Ohio on the NUC swing set. Everyone else was enjoying the big barbecue meal, but Bill was just fidgety and wouldn't hold still. Did he jump off and ride away? No.

#25: Not letting go of the seat when it's time to step off #25:  Not letting go of the seat when it's time to step off
That's Jason Catanzariti of the Long Island Unicyclists, learning to ride in December 1987. Did he get it right? Well, the following summer he won the Freestyle event for his age group at the National Unicycle Meet. He also performed professionally with the National Circus Project.

#26: Water unicycling #26:  Water unicycling
November 1994, Singapore. John Foss went to the beach and couldn't resist trying this aquatic hamster wheel. No instructions were provided. The black straps help hold the wheel round, but are not attached to the "rider". Two advantages over a real hamster wheel: This one actually goes somewhere, and water is soft!

#27: Fire breathing #27:  Fire breathing
This is Lee Naish of Australia again. Any questions? Okay, so it's safer than sword swallowing on a unicycle (if I had a picture of Joey Colon of NY doing it, it would be here)!

#27: Mountain climbing on buildings
#27:  Mountain climbing on buildings
Photo and story courtesy Lee Naish: "The crux of the route is a sequence of balancy layback moves on crimpers up to a one finger pocket. Knowing I'm on Dunlop rubber allows me to inspect the route with confidence." -- Lee Naish on a (yet to be named) route at Melbourne University prior to the first redpoint ascent attempted on a unicycle, 1993.

#28: Drinkin' and drivin' #28:  Drinkin' and drivin'
Nags Head, North Carolina. Dave Critchfield, founder of the Wilderness Jugglers of Virginia sent this picture, which was taken by his wife. "The Brew Thru is a drive through for beverages and snacks. They will even load your cooler for you so you don't have to get out of the car. Being at the beach, these people must see it all because they didn't even bat an eye as I pedaled in on my Miyata and ordered a six pack of Coors Lite. As to why anyone would want to take a picture like this, probably for the same reasons as some of the other pictures on this page. Either that, or the effects of an earlier trip to Brew Thru that day were beginning to give me some liquid courage."

#29: MUni gliding

#29: MUni gliding
The MUni trails of Auburn, California are just not a good place for gliding, coasting, or backwards wheel walking. Brett Bymaster and I did it again on the Stagecoach Trail at the California Mountain Unicycle Weekend in 1997 and Roger Davies took these pictures. This photo by Craig Milo Rogers.

:30: Hand wheel walk racing #30: Hand wheel walk racing
It's a silly enough thing to do at all, let alone racing. Especially don't do it with the likes of Andy Cotter, Ryan Wood, Kevin Gilbertson and Dana Schneider. These four members of the Twin City Unicycle Club will beat the pants off you!

#31: Diving at the 1997 NUC hotel #31: Diving at the 1997 NUC hotel
If you didn't go to the 1997 National Unicycle Convention in St. Paul, MN you were safe from this danger. The innocent-looking swimming pool at the Ramada Inn had strict rules against diving, and like Lars Lottrup seen here, you might have gotten in trouble! Oh yeah. This would be dangerous if you did it on a unicycle too.

#32: Hitting your friend on the head with it #32: Hitting your friend on the head with it
Three girls from the Goddard Riverside Acro Club of New York City were all zooming down the track at the 1996 Nationals in Iowa. Suddenly, the girl on your left had a sudden dismount, her unicycle flew up and boink! right onto her neighbor's head. There was no permanent damage, but it makes interesting viewing in the NUC 96 video. Good thing they were teammates!

#33: Riding on air #33: Riding on air
If the trail is gone, don't ride there! Mike Lewis, John Lewis, and Tim Bustos are thinking about it. Can they make it? (Back when it was still there, this had been the novice trail at the 1996 California Mountain Unicycle Weekend)

#34: Stream diving #34: Stream diving.
Andy Jennings of Folsom, CA likes to taste the local water when he rides (and the plants, and dirt!). This method of water tasting is not recommended. This picture makes more sense to you if you tilt it 90 degrees to the left.

#35: Uh . . . #35: Uh . . .
Just don't, okay? Male or female. It's a good thing we don't know who this guy is.



DISCLAIMER: As described, these are THINGS NOT TO DO. This means that if you try them, it is entirely at your own risk. The author and photographers are NOT recommending or suggesting that you try any of these things, and accept no responsibility for any foolish actions on your part. If you, or your lawyers, think you are being invited to do or try anything you see on this page, you are dead wrong, and I suggest that you read the page title again!

HOWEVER: If you happen to have pictures of humorous things you have seen or tried at your own risk, submissions are welcome. You can send photos by snail mail (these will be returned if you include SASE), or send an image file as an email attachment.

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