HARMONY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Unicyclists from around the world have converged on Butler County this week. It’s their 40th North American convention.
The obstacle course on Seneca Valley High School grounds in Harmony is really no obstacle for talented unicyclists who dart in and out of the orange traffic cones. Neither is the high jump bar. Some 250 one-wheeled wonders fare facing off in the North American Championships.
Dave and Lisa Krack founded the Butler Wobble Club, which is hosting the event.
“Because it is an individual thing,” Lisa says, “you can pick it up and you can ride with others, so it does become a group event. But it’s still something personal that you can do by yourself.”
Club member Trina Hess is new to the sport, but willing to teach.
“Whatever works for you, and whatever helps you stay on the unicycle and stay balanced,” she explains.
The unicycle high jump bar is at 60 centimeters – about 26 inches. But it still will go up several more inches before the real competitors get started.
Max Schulze of New Mexico and Oklahoma’s Kelly Hickman are the favorites in the event. Schulze takes the “seat in front” approach.
“You jump and because you have the seat out in front of you, you can pull the whole unicycle up and tuck to clear the bar,” he says.
“My style, I take a running start, backpedal a ways, and then actually tuck the unicycle up in front of me,” Hickman responds. “And my seat’s underneath me.”
Opponents go down, one by one. But the final two continue to compete, and the bar continues to climb. Hickman and Schulze both clear 125 centimeters. They finish in a tie.
“That’s all we could ask for,” Hickman says. “Just come out here push each other and do our best.”
“You don’t think of it as beating somebody else,” Schulze adds. “You think of just, I want to get over that thing.”
The convention and championships continue through Saturday.