Student Unicyclist Goes Solo

By: Stefany Olivas, Managing Editor | Photo By: Scott M. Roberts, Photojournalist

Single Wheel Transportation Fun and Practical

Culinary Arts major Zachary Carris said he has been riding his unicycle since he was eleven years old, and now he rarely ever rides a bicycle.

His parents thought his desire to ride a uni­cycle was just a phase, but he said he contin­ues to use his unicycle because it is easier to ride and maintain than a bicycle.

“The only thing I can remember was excite­ment. It was the coolest thing on the planet to me at that point. Half my life later, I’m still going strong,” said Carris.

He said he the single contact point with the ground and the minimal length of the unicycle make it easier for him to maneuver.

“Getting through crowds of people is easier, and since there’s one con­tact point, you can slow a little bit and turn on the dime,” said Carris.

His parents bought him his first unicycle after Carris became enthralled with a family friend’s uni­cycle, he said.

He said learning can be difficult for people who are not extremely motivated, but it was not hard for him to learn to ride as a child.

When he was first learning, he was nervous because of the strength it requires to get going, but he said after a few days of prac­tice, he acquired a skill that would last his entire life.

Carris bought his cur­rent unicycle when he was 15 and it is a little over four feet high, he said.

“Because of how big the wheel is, I was kind of afraid to ride it for a while because you need a lot of leg strength to get it going and keep of scary,” said Carris. going. Stopping was kind

He said people usually have positive responses when they see him riding his uni­cycle, and that sometimes they want to try and ride it. If he has the opportunity to talk to someone for a few minutes and they are tall enough, some­times he will let them try.

“Most people love it. Everyone is constantly honk­ing and giving me thumbs ups, and my favorite is when someone sees me coming and holds out their hand for a high five,” said Carris.

He said he has only had a very few negative experiences. Once a group of kids at UNM started throwing rocks at him as he rode by, so he stopped and confronted them, asking for an apology. He said the whole group tried to fight him.

“Someone who later became my friend annoyed me to no end saying, ‘four wheels are better than one!’ every time he saw me, but I later learned he was just doing that thing kids do,” said Carris.

Carris said that he would highly recommend students pick up unicycling, and that a whole world of commuting and unicycling sports is open to explore.

“Unicycle sports are some of the most fun things I’ve ever done. Playing hockey on one of these things is great,” said Carris.

He said it is important for students to be aware of their surroundings while cycling, and that beginners should wear a lot of pads and a good helmet.

“Situational awareness is really important when you’re doing any kind of biking. Just knowing where you are and where everyone else is, it’s the biggest thing for not getting yourself killed,” said Carris.

He said falling off of a uni­cycle is not as scary as it seems, and is easier than falling off of a bicycle because there is noth­ing in front of or behind the cyclist to fall on.

“I’ve only been laid out once and that’s because I was riding on gravel. I was turning too hard and it gave out under me,” said Carris.

He said some bike shops have supplies for unicycles, but they usually have to be ordered.

For more information on how to get started unicycling and a list of brands, sports, and events, visit

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