Frequently Asked Questions:
Unicycling Skill Levels
- How old should a person be to ride a unicycle?
- It all depends on your attitude. The ages of people learning to unicycle range from 18 months to over 70 years. It’s a fun sport for young and old alike.
- How long does it take to learn?
- Again, it all depends on your attitude! Most people can ride across a gym without assistance after 5 hours.
- Should I wear safety equipment?
- Unicycling is generally an extremely safe sport with a very low rate of injury. Safety equipment is always recommended when there is even a remote possibility of getting hurt. However, the use of such equipment is up to each individual (and their parents if the unicyclist is a minor). While TCUC does not require the use of helmets, kneepads, gloves, or elbow pads, some unicycling events, such as racing at the national convention, do require this equipment.
- What are my responsibilities as a TCUC member?
- Your biggest responsibility is to enjoy yourself while unicycling. We do not require our members to participate in any events, so each person’s participation is up to the individual. However, the parades in the summer are our means of making money for the club, so we do like a high participation in the parades. And we ask members to always portray TCUC and unicycling in a positive light, so we can share unicycling with more people!
- How is the club ran?
- TCUC has volunteer officers and junior officers (members from ages 13 to 18) who are elected at the meeting/banquet in the fall each year. The officers are listed on the back cover of this FAQ and in the club newsletter that comes out about once a month. The officers meet monthly, except in the summer. The club meeting/ banquet in the fall is the only regularly scheduled club membership meeting. TCUC is incorporated and follows the bylaws set up by the club.
- What are the advantages of joining TCUC?
- There are a bunch! First, you have access to practice sites (usually free) several times each week located in different areas around the Twin Cities. Second, you automatically become a member of the Unicycling Society of America (USA) when you join TCUC. The USA sponsors the National Unicycle Convention each year and publishes a quarterly magazine, On One Wheel for all members. Third, you have the chance to learn from other accomplished unicyclists in the club and pass skill levels (described below). Also, you’ll receive the club newsletter, and you can receive up-to-the-minute club news updates by e-mail. (Club members can send their e-mail address to email@example.com)
- Can I buy a TCUC T-shirt/ sweatshirt/jacket?
- We have TCUC t-shirts in many sizes and sometimes have limited quantities of the sweatshirts. T-shirts are $10 each; the sweatshirts are $20. The shirts have the TCUC logo on the front and back, are of a high quality material, and are used as our parade uniform. Club members can also order a personalized black club jacket with the logo on the back for about $70, or a white windbreaker with the logo for $30.
- Do I have to buy my own unicycle when I join?
- No. TCUC owns several unicycles that you may use for learning. But the newest members always have priority on the use of the unicycles, so after a while, members will probably want to purchase their own. Also, you will find that learning is easier on your own unicycle.
- Can I borrow TCUC unicycles?
- Yes, the standard unicycles (16-inch and 20- inch wheels) are occasionally loaned out after the member demonstrates certain proficiency. But, if a class is being taught or there are many new members who need the club unicycles, the availability of the unicycles may decrease.
- Who can use the TCUC-owned unicycles?
- Any club member. If we are running a class, the class members have the highest priority for the club unicycles. If it is a regular practice, the newest member or potential member typically has the highest priority for using the club-owned unicycles.
- Where can I buy a unicycle? How much does one cost?
- Joe at Compulsion Cycles stocks many unicycle parts and is a unicycle.com dealer or www.unicycle.com.
- Do you know of any second-hand unicycles?
- No. We have found that once people learn to unicycle, they hardly ever sell their unicycles. But you can always try the Internet and especially check e-bay. What wheel size should I buy? Sometimes it depends on the size of the rider—for a small child, a 16-inch wheel is recommended. Although, if the child may be doing a lot of growing soon, and there aren’t any younger siblings in line to use the small unicycle, it may be wise to wait to purchase a 20-inch unicycle and borrow the TCUC 16- inch unicycles. For a larger child, a teenager, or an adult, we usually recommend a 20-inch wheel. A 20-inch wheel is suitable for indoor practices and is the unicycle most of the members use for trick riding. If the unicycle will be used for mostly distance riding and outdoor exercise, a 24-inch wheel is better.
- What is a giraffe?
- Strictly speaking, a “giraffe” unicycle is the term used for Schwinn 6-feet tall unicycles. The name is commonly used to describe all tall unicycles, between 4 to 20 feet tall. When can I ride a TCUC-owned giraffe? You should have passed USA Skill Level 3 to ride a tall unicycle. This is for safety reasons—the rider must have a certain stability and skill. To ride a giraffe in a parade, riders also must pass the Giraffe Test, which includes idling 10 times with the left foot and 10 times with the right foot, still standing with a partner, dismounting in all four directions, and riding backwards 10 meters.
- Can I borrow a TCUC-owned tall unicycle?
- Yes, the club owns several tall unicycles, and these are sometimes loaned out to riders who are eligible to ride them.
- Can I ride any and all of the tall unicycles or the zig-zag unicycle?
- Some of these are owned by members of the club and not by the club itself, so it is up to the owners of those unicycles. You need their permission to use those unicycles.
- Why does TCUC do so many parades?
- TCUC is paid for most of the parades in which we perform—this is our largest fund raiser for the club. It is also a great way for the general public to see unicycling. TCUC performs in about 20-30 parades each year; most are in June and July.
- How long are the parades?
- As short as six blocks and as long as two miles. Most parade routes are just over one mile.
- How many people do you need at each parade?
- As many as possible! The more unicyclists at each parade, the better TCUC looks. When we have a large number of people performing in the parade routines, it makes the group look more impressive to the audience and increases the likelihood that we will get asked to come back the next year. We would like to have a minimum of 30 people at each parade.
- Should I ride in parades?
- Absolutely, yes! It is best to have both beginners and advanced riders at every parade. Beginning riders add to the group by waving and greeting people in the crowd.
- How good do I have to be to ride in the parade?
- You should be able to ride at least a few meters alone. If you cannot freemount the unicycle, you should arrange for someone to assist you. You will ride in the front with the other beginners until you have enough skill for the parade routine.
- How good do I have to be to ride in the parade routine?
- You should be a Level 2 rider and able to idle at least 10 times.
- When can I ride in the back of the parade routine?
- Level 5 and above riders have the option to ride in the back of the parade routine, showcasing their advanced skills. We should not have more than four riders in back of the routine for each parade, and riders should take turns riding in back. The Junior Officers are in charge of determining where each person rides in the parade.
- Can I juggle in the parade?
- Yes. You must first demonstrate that you can juggle for 30 seconds while riding. If you are riding in the routine, you must participate in the routine, and juggle only while riding forward.
- Can I ride my tall unicycle in the parade?
- Yes, provided you have passed the test for chain-driven unicycles: idle 10 times left foot, idle 10 times right foot, still stand with a partner, dismount in all four directions, and ride backwards 10 meters.
- Can I ride a TCUC tall unicycle in the parade?
- Yes, but people must take turns riding these unicycles. Do not assume that you will be riding a TCUC giraffe, so bring your standard unicycle.
- What’s the tallest unicycle that TCUC has in the parades?
- Some TCUC members own unicycles 8 feet tall, and these are usually ridden in each parade. Occasionally, a 12-foot unicycle is ridden in a parade where the parade route is smooth.
- How much advance notice do I get about a parade?
- The parade organizers often don’t send us the information very early; sometimes we receive it just days before the parade. This does not allow us to photocopy the information and mail it to the members. We try to keep everyone informed about the times and locations of parades through the newsletter. But sometimes information is only available through last-minute e-mails.
- How come we have to walk/ride from the end of a parade back to the beginning?
- The parade organizers route their parade for their best interests, and often do not loop the parade. So we usually have to walk back to our cars, or ask parents to help out by giving us a ride back to the start.
- Should I bring a water bottle?
- It’s always a good idea to provide your own water whenever you are exercising. However, TCUC usually provides a large jug of water and water bottles at each parade.
- What do you wear?
- The TCUC parade outfit is plain black shorts, the TCUC t-shirt, black socks, and all-black shoes. For winter parades and some spring or fall parades we wear long black pants and the TCUC sweatshirt or white jacket.
- Why do I have to be at the line-up so early, and then wait around?
- Parade officials set the line-up time so parade units can get into position well before the parade starts. This helps them organize the parade. Often traffic and parking can be a real problem if you do not arrive at the lineup time. The time spent waiting for the parade to start can be spent socializing with other TCUC members, learning new unicycling skills, or juggling.
- Is there a penalty if I arrive late to a parade line-up?
- No, TCUC doesn’t penalize you for arriving late to a parade. Arriving late to a parade is being rude to the officers who are trying to organize the routine for that day and to your fellow club members who were on time. You also run the risk of completely missing the parade. If you know you may be late due to outside influences, please try to call someone who is at the parade line-up so the officers can be notified.
- Do you need people to walk the parade?
- Yes, we usually need people (parents, friends, siblings) to hand out water bottles, assist riders, hand out TCUC business cards and brochures to the crowd, and answer questions from the audience. Plus, walkers receive credit for parades as long as they are members of TCUC.
- What is a parade incentive?
- If you are in a certain number of parades during the parade season, you will receive a gift from TCUC. For example, after five parades, you may receive a gift certificate or other small gift. The parade incentives change each year and are published in the club newsletter. Usually the incentives are for participating in 5, 10, 15, or more parades.
- What happens if TCUC wins a trophy/ plaque in a parade?
- We give out the trophies to the members and do not keep any trophies that TCUC wins. The trophies are handed out to families (not individuals) based on seniority. To receive a trophy, you must have the highest seniority at that parade, you must have unicycled at that parade, and you must have participated in 10 parades in that calendar year. Once you have received a trophy, your seniority drops to the bottom of the list so that other families have a chance to receive a trophy.
- What do you do at practices?
- Most practices are dedicated to letting riders improve their unicycling skills at their own pace. Sometimes there are organized games, relays, or other group activities. We also try to spend time teaching beginners and teaching new skills to advanced riders.
- What do people practice?
- Many of the members are learning new skills and preparing for unicycling competitions. Others may be riding for exercise or to develop their skills.
- I want to learn a new skill — who do I ask to teach me?
- Most of the officers can either teach you an advanced skill, or will help you find another person who knows that particular skill.
- Can I bring my friend/brother/sister/ parent to practice?
- Yes, bring a guest if you like! We welcome visitors, but please be sure children are accompanied by a responsible adult.
- Do you have to be a member to practice?
- No. We welcome new people and will teach them how to unicycle. Typically, if you are attending practice regularly (two or three times in a row), you should join TCUC.
- How much help will a beginner get at each practice?
- Beginners learn at different rates and need different amounts of help. We have found that alternating between helping beginners and letting them work on their own is the best method. If there are many beginners, each person may not get very much attention. The teachers are also at practice to improve their own skills and to teach advanced skills to each other. Beginners will usually not get the undivided attention of a teacher for an unlimited time.
- Are the TCUC-owned unicycles at each practice?
- While we try to bring the club-owned unicycles to each practice, occasionally it is not possible. At least one day in advance, check by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and ask if the club-owned unicycles will be at the practice you are planning on attending.
- Do I have to go to all the practices for the full time?
- No. You choose the amount of time you want to spend at each practice and how many times you want to practice each week.
- Can I juggle at practice?
- Yes. TCUC owns several juggling clubs to help teach beginners, and many members bring juggling balls that you can borrow to learn the basic juggling patterns.
- When are practices?
- TCUC practices at various locations and at various times. We publish a calendar with our newsletter that lists practice dates/times/ locations. For the most up-to-date information, check on-line at tcuc.org/members/calendar. We also send out frequent club updates through e-mail. If you would like to receive the e-mail updates, send your e-mail address to email@example.com.
- If a practice is canceled, how will I know about it?
- We try to let people know if a practice has been suddenly canceled for one night. We are very sorry if you drive to a practice only to find that it has been canceled, but with TCUC’s size, it is often difficult to contact everyone. Please check your e-mail or the TCUC hotline for the most accurate information.
- Why does TCUC teach the unicycling classes?
- We teach the classes for several reasons: We trade teaching unicycling for gym time, we perform a community service, and we get new members from these classes.
- What do I have to do for the classes?
- During the class time, the TCUC members are responsible for helping teach the new unicyclists. If you are not interested in teaching, you should either not attend practice during a class time, or you should sit on the side until a class is over.
- Should I let a class member use my unicycle?
- Usually, no. TCUC owns enough unicycles for teaching, so we shouldn’t need yours. A new person may bend/break some part of your unicycle, so we do not recommend that members loan their unicycles for a class.
- Do I have to be a TCUC member to be in a class?
- No. Classes are offered so the general community can learn to unicycle. On the other hand, members are generally encouraged to attend the classes so they can help teach the class members.
Unicycling Skill Levels
- What are the IUF/USA Skill Levels?
- The International Unicycling Federation/ Unicycling Society of America (IUF/USA) Skill Levels are the combinations of skills at ten levels of difficulty. Level 1 is the easiest, with the rider demonstrating mounting, riding 50 meters, and dismounting gracefully. As of January 2004, Level 10 has been achieved by only eight people in the world— all members of TCUC. Level cards that describe what skills you need to do to pass a level are available from the club officers. The officers are also willing to coach the riders in the skills needed to pass levels.
- How can I test to pass a Skill Level?
- To try to pass a level, you may have one opportunity during each practice. We usually try to clear the practice area to eliminate any interference. The TCUC Officers are responsible for level testing. When you pass a level, you receive a card and a level patch.
- At what level are most of the members of TCUC?
- The skill levels of TCUC members range from beginner (pre-Level 1) all the way to Level 10. TCUC has the largest group of highly skilled unicyclists in the world, with over 30 riders who are Level 7 or higher.
- What is ShowGroup?
- TCUC’s ShowGroup is the advanced group of about 20 unicyclists whose mission is to perform in high-quality, exciting shows. ShowGroup also represents TCUC in the Club Routine competitions at national and international competitions.
- How can I join ShowGroup?
- Riders who are Level 5 and above may join ShowGroup, depending on the number of members already in the group and the time of year. It is difficult to bring in new members when ShowGroup is working on specific routines for competitions. Please check with the ShowGroup Coordinator any time if you have questions.
- What are some of the shows that have been done?
- TCUC’s ShowGroup has performed at the Mall of America, half-time shows for major athletic events, Boy Scout Blue & Gold banquets, school shows, and for many other occasions.
- Has ShowGroup ever won a competition?
- TCUC’s ShowGroup holds over ten National Club Champion titles and multiple World Group Championship titles. In addition, many members of ShowGroup are national and world champions in a variety of unicycling events.
- Can I go to ShowGroup practices if I’m not in ShowGroup?
- Generally, no. We do allow the family members of ShowGroup unicyclists to practice, provided they make an effort to be inconspicuous.
- Are there any local unicycling conventions?
- Yes. TCUC typically sponsors a regional event in the spring, This is a day filled with unicycling activities, workshops, and fun events. The regional event gives everyone a chance to compete at the local level and to practice for competing at national and international levels. All club members are welcome and encouraged to attend the regional event.
- Should I attend the North American Unicycling Championships and Convention (NAUCC)?
- Yes! The NAUCC is a lot of fun for unicyclists of all ages and skills. This annual event is usually held in late July with races, artistic competitions, workshops, and a public show.
- What is Unicon?
- Unicon is the International Unicycle Convention, held every two years. TCUC members have been a strong force at Unicons, often taking home world champion unicycling titles. You can learn more about Unicon by visiting the website: http://iufinc.org/unicon.