I was sitting in a little plaza in Girona the other day, tucking into a gelato and enjoying the dream, when a dude on a unicycle with arms outstretched furiously pedalled his way past me. It got me to thinking: Has there ever been a worse invention in the history of mankind?
Think of any other mode of transport with no brakes, no gears and no steering. It is less efficient and more dangerous than walking, and also looks awkward. At least cigarettes give you a buzz.
The average unicyclist has taken quite a bit of time to garner the skills necessary to be able to ride the stupid thing, and then they’re limited to furiously spinning their legs around with their arms sticking out like they are balancing on a tightrope. There’s a reason why the Penny Farthing has been replaced: there have been quite a few advances in self propelled, wheeled technology. And yes, I will admit that old Vespas, Fiat Cinquecentos and Mustangs are such stylistically cool looking machines that their relative lack of performance compared to today’s machines is a minor detail. Unicycles are the precise opposite of this: a perfect storm of zero style and negative functionality.
But then I happened across something worse than unicycles: stunt unicycles.
There is a small troupe of stunt unicyclists in Girona. X-unicyclists perhaps? They all seem to be wan with lots of hair, wearing various types of hard wearing rugged urban jungle-type cargo shorts, and elbow and knee pads. They also have special mods on their x-unicycles — extra padded seats and a shock absorbing seat post.
I only wish that I were creative enough to have made these people up. Firstly I’d be super creative, and secondly, these X-Games rejects wouldn’t be cluttering up various parks in Girona, dragging the generally cool vibe of the place waaay down.
It seems most of their tricks involve a similar series of steps –
- Riding to the edge of a drop, doing that little backwards-forwards thing they do for a few seconds,
- Dropping off the edge
- Gaining a great deal of speed in the process of the drop (“Galileo who? Isaac Who-ton? Dude I’m too X-Treme to be worried with your lame science mumbo jumbo” I can almost hear them say)
- Furiously trying to pedal as quickly as the wheel is spinning (pesky x-unicycles and their fixed-wheeledness)
- Discovering they can’t pedal as quickly as they need to (being the rejects of X-Games events, which are the rejects of proper sports, this lack of athletic talent isn’t a huge surprise)
- Jumping off the x-unicycle
- High-fiving their mates who are still doing that back and forward wobbly unicycle thing on their x-unicycles.
A less cool series of stunts I have never seen.
See? It’s not all sunshine, roses and happiness over here! We have confronting stuff to deal with too.