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Don’t be afraid to fall

Members of the SCC Community Education unicycling class, which is open to all ages, pedal with arms linked while taking direction from class founder Tanya O’Brien of Glenwood City. (Photo by Sarah Young)1 / 2
New Richmond resident Frances Curran is a grandmother who took up unicycling less than a year ago when when she brought her grandson to Paulette Anderson’s unicycling class. She is currently working on mounting the unicycle freestanding, with no help of leaning on a wall. (Photo by Sarah Young)2 / 2

It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” said unicycling student Ayrica Jewell. “Don’t be afraid to fall because we all start out by falling.”

These words of wisdom come from a unicycling class regular in Paulette Anderson’s Thursday community education class.

People of all ages practice various tricks, mounts or just zoom around the SCC Elementary gym, seemingly effortlessly.

“Some people like to come before class starts to practice,” Anderson said. “Around 6 p.m. it’s just chaos.”

Anderson, while proud of all her students, is especially proud of Frances Curran, who began taking the class last March.

Curran, a grandmother, said she has missed a few classes lately because of illness in the family and babysitting her grandkids, so she was excited to get back to business.

“I’m learning,” Curran said. “I have a lot to learn. I want to be really confident, have it be almost second nature, like riding a bicycle.”

Curran said she always wanted to learn to unicycle and when she saw an ad in the paper for the class, she was intrigued.

She brought her grandson to the class the first time, but soon realized she needed to come alone to perfect her skills. Her grandson was mesmerized by seeing all those unicycles in one place.

Curran has already ridden in the Roberts Good Neighbor Days’ parade and likes to practice outside of class.

“We’re big outdoor people and we’re active,” Curran said. “We’re always at the cabin, or biking or taking the grandkids someplace.”

While everyone practiced, many kids clamored for Anderson’s attention. The gym echoed with cries of “Look at me Paulette! Look what I can do.”

“It’s a lot of work,” Anderson said. “You got to work one-on-one with the new ones. It’s good for the kids and keeps them active. Plus, they can do things no one else can.”

There are 10 skill levels in unicycling. Some skills to master to advance include learning different mounts, riding with one foot, riding backward, turning a figure-eight, making a 360 degree turn and so on.

Members of the Twin Cities Unicycle Club come to sessions and people can test with them to move on to the next level.

Zeke Orme, 14, of Hammond, said he’s working on level 4 or 5. He demonstrated bouncing, riding with the seat behind him, making 90-degree turns and wheel walking.

“Most people who come are pretty good at learning to avoid people riding,” Orme said. “That’s how we fit 20 to 30 at once.”

Scarlett Grabcyzk, a 10-year-old from Hammond, rode a giraffe unicycle, five feet in the air. She said she used to practice at home by hanging on to the rack on top of a vehicle.

Calleigh Johnson of Roberts said unicycling can be painful, but fun.

“I saw a unicycle in a toy catalog and told my stepmom, then my grandpa bought me one,” Johnson said.

Anyone interested in Unicycling for Beginners can contact Anderson at 715-796-8869 or Classes meet Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the SCC Elementary large gym. Fees are $10 per person for six sessions or $25 per family for six sessions.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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