Over the years we’ve seen many different and interesting things out here in the Alps, but last week was definitely a first for Pure Mountain when we had a family of mountain unicyclists come to visit! Of course we’d heard of unicycling before, but mountain unicycling?! In fact, when we first saw the enquiry we weren’t sure if they were joking, but a quick perusal of YouTube showed that this is indeed a fully fledged, albeit crazy sport!
The family got into it when Marie bought a unicycle for Richard as a Christmas present five years ago, and when children Rob and Alex saw the fun that was to be had, they decided to join in on the action.
Although it looks impossible, according to Rob it takes about 2 weeks of everyday practice to get to a fairly competent level on the flat. Then it’s a matter of determination and endurance to take it onto the mountain – obviously a whole new ballgame altogether!
In order to progress, Rob would take his cycle along to the park where his friends would be doing tricks on their bikes, and would try to outdo them on his one wheeler! Of the family, Rob is the most passionate about the sport. Having started from the age of 12, he is now keen to get sponsorship to try out new cycles and make videos for manufacturers, so keep an eye out for him!
There is clearly a big difference between mountain biking and mountain unicycling, the most obvious and scary is the lack of brakes! In order to overcome this you have to really build up your leg strength because you use your legs as the brakes. As Richard said, mountain biking is mainly about speed, whereas mountain unicycling is more of a battle of nerves and balance against the terrain. And having seen the videos and photos of some of the things they were doing, this family has some serious nerve!
When asked what they thought of Les Gets as a destination for their sport the family were unanimous in their praise. With all the walking paths and downhill tracks there was plenty to challenge them, the only problem was dealing with the lift attendants who weren’t sure whether to categorize them as walkers or mountain bikers!
But who knows, maybe one day unicyclists will be competing for space alongside the bikers on Les Gets’ mountains. But until that moment comes I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Richard, Marie, Rob and Alex for showing us something new and for inspiring us to keep pushing the boundaries!
Check this out – another unicycling enthusiast who, coincidentally, was also introduced to the art after receiving an unexpected Christmas gift: