Unicycle club offers exercise and fellowship

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WOODBURY — A mix of adults, teens and children descended on Royal Oaks Elementary School with one thing in common: a shared interest in unicycling.

Twin Cities Unicycle Club held an open practice in the school gymnasium May 23 to highlight an activity club members said provides good exercise and even better company.

"The big things I like about unicycling is it's a great way to stay in shape, and it's also an excellent group for camaraderie," said Art Kotz of Woodbury, the club's vice president.

Kotz said unicyclists can expect to work their abdominal and thigh muscles, particularly for beginners. The club also hosts regular games of unicycle hockey for advanced riders.

"It's never-ending challenge and fun," said Connie Cotter, a unicyclist for more than 30 years, on what she enjoys about riding. "There's always something new to learn."

For more intense exercise, Cotter said she likes to ride on mountain bike trails. Two of her favorite spots are Theodore Wirth Park in the Twin Cities and Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve in Savage, Minn.

Getting started

The club hosts a number of community education classes throughout the year and has a supply of unicycles for participants to use.

"That's a great way to get started," Kotz said about the classes, "since you have a flat, uniform surface in a gym."

Beginning lessons involve holding onto a wall or arm for balance before eventually letting go and riding around for short distances.

Falling was a common occurrence at the open practice May 23, though club members said unicycling is generally a safe, low-injury activity.

"I started out with my hand against the wall," said Rick Saari of Baldwin, Wis, who joined the club three years ago after purchasing an old unicycle in an online auction. He said it took him about eight weeks before he was able to ride on his own.

What has kept him coming back, Saari said, is the fun and support of being around his fellow unicyclists.

For more information on Twin Cities Unicycle Club classes and events, visit www.tcuc.org.