19 April 2020

You may laugh now…

In a bit of sheer lunacy, I find myself to be an owner of a unicycle. Not exactly a proud one, mind you. More like a very fearful one. This thing looks weird, feels weird and frankly, there is a reason it conjures up images of a circus when you look at it. Because it is weird. The first reaction you are bound to have upon seeing it will be “Hey, you are short by a wheel”.

My younger daughter has gone one over CDC and imposed a rather punishing 20 feet social distancing with me now!

The genesis of this lunacy harkens back to a bar in Dallas. Yes, all my stories start from a bar somewhere. That is how I committed to the Mongolia trip (at a bar with Roger) and that is how I committed to riding motorbikes (at a bar with Magesh). This particular bar involved John Mcgehee – my friend, philosopher and guide when it comes to running. Sitting at that bar on Nov 28, 2015, we discussed (as you can see in my blog of that day) “how to bend the curve for my 50s”. I distinctly remember discussing how we lose balance (the reason old people fall down so much) and what we can do to not lose that rapidly.

I had been thinking about that problem for some time – undoubtedly sitting in bars – how to keep the sense of physical balance intact. The part about simultaneously coming across as having lost my mental balance was sheer brilliance from my side. Come on! I am 54. If I cannot afford to look like an idiot now, when will I ever?

A unicycle topped the list. Balancing on a dolphin’s nose came close second. But finding a co-operative dolphin in the rural parts of Georgia is only slightly easier than finding somebody who wants to accompany you to a Chinese wet market these days.

This contraption is very tricky. You just can’t sit on it. If you try, it will simply roll away from under you – forward or backward. Regardless, you are highly likely to find yourself having a painful tryst with the hard ground below.

I am realizing that learning something new at the age of 54 is hard. I must have gone thru 20 youtube videos on how to get on to a unicycle. My first day was all about keeping the unicycle against a brick (so it would not move), press on one pedal and just step over to the other side. No movement of the bike involved at all. All I had to do is clear the seat and step on to the other side. If I fell, it could not have been for more than a couple of feet. Yet, you will be surprised, how I froze up every time I tried to transfer my body weight from the ground to the pedal.

After about five minutes of desperate attempts, managed to get it done once. Mind you, I was not even attempting to sit! Just go over to the other side. Did a couple of times more successfully and decided to call it a day. I was shaking for a clear fifteen minutes after that. I was so scared.

Most experts say it will take me 30-50 hours of constant practice to figure out how to stay on top of a unicycle. At the rate of 15 minutes practice, 4 days a week, I am thinking it will be around next year I might figure out how to go around a few feet on my unicycle.

The astute amongst you have no doubt realized the irony of my risking falling down at this age… when that is exactly the risk John and I were discussing how to reduce.

It is going to be a long journey. Hopefully, I will not hurt myself too much.

If only it came with another wheel!

(I realize you are laughing now, but once I become an accomplished clown on a unicycle in a famous circus, we will see who laughs then)

Posted April 19, 2020 by Rajib Roy in category "Unicycle

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