From a wheelbarrow to bicycle to unicycle
Ancient Greece discovered that one-wheeled barrows made carrying weight easier. But the two-wheeled bicycle was invented before the unicycle. Carrying a load lower than yourself is one thing but if your cycle only has one wheel, your centre of gravity has to go above it. Unicycles are twitchy vehicles.
The modern world relegated the unicycle to the world of novelty and entertainment. Unicycles are all about balance and to stay on this machine, you must work your core and upper body much more than on a bicycle – just to stay upright. Unicycles are a good workout.
From Myers to Horwich
Frederick Myers patented the unicycle in 1869 but no governing body existed until the International Unicycling Federation was formed in 1982 – over 100 years after the vehicle’s creation. In comparison, the UCI was founded in 1900, less than 20 years after the safety bicycle’s invention.
It wasn’t until 2013 that the British put on their first National Unicycle Road Race. And it’s fair to say that the footage lacks the Tour de France’s polish. There aren’t any wide-pan helicopter shots, for example. But that aside, you have to be impressed by the commitment of both fans and athletes.
On a scale of 1 to EXTREME
There’s a reason Sagan competed in both road and MTB disciplines – both compliment each other. But you can really amp up your handling skills on a unicycle, which is essentially a fixie with fewer wheels. Balancing on a beautifully tarmacked, levelled ground is one thing. But a technical downhill course?
If you get a kick out of technical control or you just want to work on your balance, try a technical downhill route on a unicycle. Fixies teach you a lot about momentum and you don’t get a higher centre of gravity cycling experience than a unicycle. If you want to train hard – one wheel is enough.