Another Pesky Lesson in Humility

Discussion in 'rec.sport.unicycling' started by Ronnie, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. Ronnie

    Ronnie Guest

    Another Pesky Lesson in Humility!

    Hello out there in the Unicycling Community. I'm an enthusiastic 53
    year old beginner. This is my first attempt at a post on any internet
    forum, so if I should inadvertently commit any serious cyber blunders I
    trust that y'all will set me straight!

    I have been fascinated by unicycles and admiring of unicyclists since
    the dawn of my own self awareness. Quite logically, I've also assumed
    that only exceptional beings on the very highest rung of the
    evolutionary ladder could ever hope to master such an inherently
    instable and seemingly irrational device!

    One evening last fall, while doing my daily 20 miles on the old Schwinn
    Airdyne, my mind was wandering (as it is wont to do) and it occurred to
    me that I could investigate unicycles on the internet. At the
    conclusion of my ride I hopped off the bike and onto the information
    super highway at 26 KBPS. After typing "unicycles" into Google, I hit
    the search button and fell through the looking glass into an amazing
    world whose extent and diversity exceeded anything I could ever have
    imagined.

    My unicycling "research" soon consumed all my spare time (and then
    some!) as I feverishly followed links and absorbed information. (If
    only I had applied myself so diligently in school my bank account might
    be a little less emaciated today!)

    I discovered, to my great delight, the Unicycling Community here, where
    I was pleased to note the encouragement given to beginners, inspired by
    the activities of older unicyclists, and eagerly followed the progress
    of Dude With a Sock.

    I began to believe that with patience and perseverance (of which I have
    a great store) even a post middle aged and slightly overweight wanker
    like me, with no exceptional athletic ability, might just learn to
    wobble around with some measure of control.

    I began to develop ambitions! UDC's online catalog monopolized my
    thoughts. I studied its offerings with all the intensity of Navy
    carrier pilot on final approach.

    Concluding that a 24"er would be appropriate for my 5'11"s, I agonized
    over all the possible choices. Finally, my compulsive cheapskatedness
    prevailed and I decided to go with a Torker LX 24, although my secret
    heart's desire was the United XL 24 trainer. Gathering up my courage,
    I finally launched this new adventure and ordered the Torker.

    Hardly had I hit the submit button but I began to have doubts. Would
    the Torker be stout enough for my 210 pounds? In a sudden flash of
    financial schizophrenia I called UDC and changed the order to a United
    XL 24 trainer. Now my bank account was battered but the adventure was
    properly underway!

    Just a day or two later I chanced upon Unityler's negative review of
    the XL Trainer. Oops! Having now received it however, I have no
    regrets - it's a pukka machine. That chromed and curvaceous unicrown
    frame over the stoutly built 48 spoke Kovachi wheel, while it may not
    be quite as alluring as Daisy Fuentes in a short skirt, isn't far
    behind!

    While waiting for the XL 24 to arrive, I read so many assertions that
    it was easier to learn on a 20"er that I experienced another episode of
    fiscal irrationality. Telling myself that I ought to take advantage of
    every available assistance, I thought, "In for a penny, in for a
    pound," and ordered a Torker LX 20. Obviously, my obsession with
    learning to ride had superceded what little sense I may once have
    possessed! Still, I was realistic enough to purchase a set of elbow
    and knee pads, plus wrist guards, in anticipation of my date with
    destiny.

    Finally, the glorious day arrived; UPS appeared bearing a box full of
    unicycle. With almost unendurable excitement I assembled the XL 24,
    then headed for the backyard to attack the (0,0) point of the learning
    curve. Since I was certain that, at this stage, every take off would
    terminate with a UPD, I decided to start on grass. My procedure was to
    curb mount using a portable plywood box built expressly for this
    purpose, get stabilized and comfortable while hanging onto a tree limb
    with my right hand, lean forward, release my tree limb, and start
    pedaling.

    Now I certainly wasn't progressing like these precocious teenagers who
    are freemounting by sundown on their first day, but I was doing well
    enough to keep my level of optimism elevated.

    On day two I made a significant discovery. Although I thought I was
    sitting up straight, I realized that pressing my hips forward just a
    bit shifted my weight off my crotch and onto my bottom on the wide
    after part of the seat, instantly reducing the tension in my legs.
    Eureka!

    By the end of the second day I was occasionally making 3 revolutions of
    the pedals. Most of my rides were ending with the right pedal stuck
    straight down, leading me to suspect that the further I went the more
    my weight was shifting back to the pedals. Not an unexpected
    tendency!

    The initial part of the 3rd day was spent attempting to regain the 2nd
    day's proficiency. For the first time I had an audience, which was
    causing me considerable self conscious discomfort. I much prefer to
    blunder about incompetently apart from the pressure of observing (even
    if friendly) eyes.

    On my final test flight of day 3, after a couple of pedal revolutions,
    I found myself listing to starboard and pitching aft. The usual UPD
    ensued.

    As my right foot hit the ground I heard a most disquieting "crunch" and
    was precipitously deposited upon my backside. Now, I've never before
    broken a bone, but that crunch was all too self explanatory. I knew
    with a sickening certainly that the carefree mobility I've casually
    taken for granted had suddenly suffered a shattering blow.

    Sure enough, after gingerly removing my shoe and sock, I found my foot
    to be wobbling about in a disturbingly disjointed manner beneath a
    swelling and increasingly painful ankle.

    Now I was glad for that audience, as it provided me with a ride to the
    emergency room! The nurse who first examined my then grotesquely
    swollen ankle said, "Oh, that looks bad!" The Xray tech, who was
    pretty doggoned cavalier in the way that he wrenched my traumatized
    appendage about, said, "I'm not supposed to give out information, but
    I'm gonna tell you, that thing's broken!" The doctor who read the Xray
    said, "This doesn't look good. You have a right distal tibia and
    fibula bimaleolar fracture. (a "bimal" in orthopedic surgeon slang!)
    When I asked him how such an seemingly innocuous fall could have
    resulted in such a spectacular fracture he shrugged and said that it
    was just an unfortunate combination of vectors.

    Twelve days later the swelling subsided enough for the surgeons to
    slice into it. (I've since been informed by an experienced
    anesthesiologist that the swelling decreases much quicker in patients
    who have insurance. In President Bush's "Ownership Society" I fear I'm
    just a renter!)

    Now the Xrays look like a hardware store has taken up residence in my
    ankle. I'm sporting a titanium plate about 4" long with 9 screws on
    the fibula side and 2 screws in the tibia maleolus. I'm facing 6 weeks
    in a cast with no weight on it whatsoever, followed by a month or so in
    a walking boot. The doctor forecasts some 6 months for it to become as
    strong as it will ever be and says that I won't need the weather
    channel to know when the barometric pressure is changing. I asked him
    if it would be OK for me to take up skydiving but he didn't seem to see
    the humor in that!

    I am, by nature and training, a modest and humble fellow. My years as
    a motorcyclist, an ocean going tugboatman, a sailor, and a whitewater
    canoeist have delivered me innumerable lessons in humility, some of
    which were so emphatic as to be almost fatal! Why the fates find it
    necessary to remind me once again of my own frail mortality is a
    mystery to me!

    Now I have no intention of letting this fractured ankle mark the end of
    my unicycling ambitions, although it will certainly set them back for
    more months than I care to contemplate. When I do resume my one
    wheeled efforts, I believe that I'd best take all prudent precautions.
    This injury has rendered me unable to drive and essentially useless for
    the time being. More importantly, it's placed a considerable burden
    upon my family and friends. This time they're sympathetic - if it
    happens again they may well be derisive!

    I'm thinking that I will forgo the "free range" method in favor of
    riding alongside a wall or fence until I become a bit more competent.
    I've even drawn up plans for a 4' wide plywood training track with
    handrails on either side for "maximum protection and peace of mind."

    A search of these forums for "broken ankle" revealed that others have
    limped down this road before me. I will certainly be wearing ankle
    braces like the ASO ankle supports recommended by Tellurider, whose
    Xrays looked a whole lot like mine. If only my unicycling skills
    looked a little like his I'd be happy!

    I send this story along to y'all in the hope that the Unicycling
    Community will read it with more understanding than my strictly
    nonunicycling family and friends, most of whom thought that I was
    flipping goofy for wanting to take up unicycling in the first place.
    (Although the evidence might seem to indicate that they were correct, I
    still contend that this fracture was a fluke!) I hardly dare to tell
    them that I intend to continue!

    Crippled but still keen,
    I salute you!
    Ronnie


    --
    Ronnie
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    Tags:


  2. Ronnie,

    First of all, welcome to the forums! :)

    Secondly, very nice write-up. Reading through your post was more
    interesting than even some Muni write-ups I've read on these boards. ;)


    Third, don't ever let your fluke accident push down your ambitions.
    Although, as I read that last statement again, it seems quite obvious
    that it wasn't even necessary to type - you've got more ambition and
    energy than quite a few of my own peers. According to what I've
    gathered from reading your post, Destiny is fighting a losing battle
    against you, my friend, and couldn't hold you back from your dreams if
    it killed her. I'm sure that by the time you're ready to climb back on
    that that one-wheeled mechanism of the greatest joy a person can feel,
    you'll have read up enough on these forums to know all the mechanics of
    a stand-up, backwards, one-footed wheelwalk before being able to ride
    10 feet with a support! :p

    Cheers,
    Matt


    --
    dudewithasock

    'My Unicycling Journal'
    (http://www.unicyclist.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44950)
    officially ended - currently in the process of preparing it for my free
    webspace.
    :cool:
    'MR - Reply 40,000' (http://tinyurl.com/dwwy5)
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  3. Chrashing

    Chrashing Guest

    Yes. My god, I could read your writing on and on. Really great. Please
    write about what ever you like.

    Yes, Welcome!

    Two unicycles, the gear, 3 revolutions, I'd say your an official
    Unicyclist.

    What a horrible beginning, it can only get better from here. So sorry
    to hear of the break. Have a speedy recovery.


    --
    Chrashing

    Regards,___________If the sun is shinning I want to be riding.
    Ken
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  4. RichVoice

    RichVoice Guest

  5. unidad

    unidad Guest

  6. One on one

    One on one Guest

    I also enjoyed your story. I'm sorry for your accident and am pleased
    that your story didn't end with a listing of some slightly used
    equipment for sale. I look forward to hearing more from you.

    There must be an increased gravity cycle happening on our planet right
    now. First Ken Looi, then you get pulled off and break your ankles. I
    will be exta careful, now, until this cycle has passed.
    Take care.


    --
    One on one

    Amazing. YOU'RE a waffler too!! And we BOTH unicycle! We're just the
    same! That's why I like you, Greg!
    -BillyTheMountain

    You ARE me, you silly goose.
    -Greg Harper
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  7. Trapper

    Trapper Guest

  8. s7ev0

    s7ev0 Guest

  9. Ouch!
    Sorry to hear of your bad luck, hope it heals quick.

    I don't think I've ever heard of anyone buying two unicycles before
    they've even ridden one, you obviously mean business! Maybe your next
    unicycle purchase should be a Ti frame to match your ankle :D



    > One on one
    > There must be an increased gravity cycle happening on our planet right
    > now. First Ken Looi, then you get pulled off and break your ankles. I
    > will be exta careful, now, until this cycle has passed.
    > Take care.




    I'm just about to go out for a ride, thanks to this comment I'm now
    extremely nervous!


    --
    domesticated ape

    i like bananas, monkey nuts and grapes
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  10. Uniwitold

    Uniwitold Guest

    Superb reading.TU.
    I have started uniing at 65yo.I am short and heavy.I am managing still
    at 70-ty but I find riding on the grass very difficult(inspite of
    having range of unis to choose from).Suprisingly,it is mych easier to
    learn on the tarmak.UPD with the guards you have just make a lot of
    noice.Do not give up.Cheeeeriooo!


    --
    Uniwitold

    Veni !Vidi !Mount ! ' Public does not perceive it reacts'. Greg
    Harper.
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  11. podzol

    podzol Guest

    Dear Ronnie,

    Welcome and thanks for the great post! Youre right on this point:



    > I've also assumed that only exceptional beings on the very highest rung
    > of the evolutionary ladder could ever hope to master such an
    > inherently instable and seemingly irrational device!




    Glad that you have realized that you're in residence on the top rung,
    too!

    I hope you ankle heals very well and quickly. OUCH. You are in good
    company. Read the current posts in the Rec Sport Unicycling forum about
    Ken Looi's hospitalization.

    I am a strong advocate of late learning. I was one of those kids that
    was always good at everything. It kind of built up an internal pressure
    to succeed. Now as an adult I've been learning all kinds of really
    challenging things from the ground up (cello, fencing, began grad
    school in a completely different field at age 32) . I learn much more
    slowly, but it's so much more fun to learn for pleasure and not for
    success like when I was young.

    Heal up really well before riding again, you don't need any
    recurrences! I'd also recommend a fence (I learned on a picket fence)
    and pavement. Smoother pavement means less unexpected bumps and
    impediments to throw. I have been riding since I was a kid and remain
    to find a tufty-old lawn in need of a mow an extremely difficult ride.
    Hold it on the freemounts until you get the swing of controlling the
    unplanned dismounts (UPDs) to some degree.

    Keep us posted and welcome!
    Blake


    --
    podzol

    THE MISSING WHEELS TOUR DA YOOP!
    Check out the charity ride, planning is under way.
    Seeking riders and support.
    *http://missingwheels.unicyclist.com/ *
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  12. dorfman

    dorfman Guest

    that was one of the best write ups i have ever read on this
    forum...sorry bout the injury yes i am hoping it heals fast so you can
    master the single wheel



    One on one wrote:
    >
    >
    > There must be an increased gravity cycle happening on our planet right
    > now. First Ken Looi, then you get pulled off and break your ankles. I
    > will be exta careful, now, until this cycle has passed.
    > Take care.




    ^its from that flipin jump day now the gravity is all screwed up...jk


    --
    dorfman

    my unicycles are like my imaginary friends that every one can see.
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  13. paco

    paco Guest

    I agree, Ronnie. Excellent Post!

    While you're waiting to heal, feel free to post anything you want on
    unicyclist.com. Except for maybe how to ride without hurting yourself.
    ;) You will be a welcome addition to our masses, and judging by the
    frequency of some of the posters, you'll probably be riding as often as
    they do!

    You have the ambition. You have the enthusiasm. You have the
    unicycle. All you really need now is a leg that isn't broken. Good
    luck!


    --
    paco

    Every time I see this thread I wonder what happened to Paco's back.
    -John Childs
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  14. The Bruiser

    The Bruiser Guest

    hey great post. I noticed that you said you were a whitewater canoeist,
    i love whitewater canoeing. Im glad to here there are more c-boaters.
    keep up the unicycling.


    --
    The Bruiser

    lvl 2 unicyclist, im moving up...
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  15. CincyUniDay

    CincyUniDay Guest

    Excellent write-up! U definitely have the adventure aura going. I
    enjoyed that story as much as reading a Mark Twain novel. ;)

    I'm a beginner as well, (Jan 2006 Uni born on date) like most things I
    jump into with naive enthusiasm I didn't do any research. To my
    suprise when I found this Uni Community Group, about a week or two into
    starting to learn; there were a lot of stories and ideas on my similar
    blunders.

    Something that helped me learn was using PVC poles, these are cheap and
    easily available and you won't need them for long. Anyway, even when I
    could ride without holding on to anything, these poles helped me mount
    while riding on paved trails, where there was nothing to assist the
    mounting start. Within a week or so I was able to throw away the
    poles. Whatever method you use definitely take it slow to figure out
    the basic balance technique for yourself.



    Hope you heal quick and good Uni'g.
    Can't wait to hear your comeback story.


    --
    CincyUniDay
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  16. saam

    saam Guest

  17. Klaas Bil

    Klaas Bil Guest

    Ronnie, welcome to the community! That's bad luck indeed, but you're
    set to overcome it.

    Your foot may have hit an irregularity in the grass field,
    contributing to the bone snapping. Apart from that, because of those
    same irregularities, and generally more rolling friction, grass is
    more difficult to (learn to) ride on. I recommend taking it to asphalt
    (pavement), or a gym floor, at the time when you can go back to
    practice. That's soon, hopefully!

    Good age to learn! I was 47 when I started, 52 now.
     
  18. cathwood

    cathwood Guest

  19. Doug

    Doug Guest

    Congrats on becoming a unicyclist!!!

    Forget the naysayers. They are secretly surfing unicycle.com

    One of the best pieces of advice that I've read on this forum is that a
    beginner should start with practicing how to dismount. Once things
    aren't going as expected, just dismount and start over. Don't fight
    it. Sometimes dismounting actually happens with dignity intact, but it
    doesn't matter. A roll on the ground during a upd IS a part of
    unicycling. At least in my world. Practice rolling.

    If you're ever in the Tulsa area, let me know, we'll ride.


    --
    Doug

    Ride like you stole it!
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  20. Welcome Ronnie
    Like you I learned while in mature age.... and ended in the emergency
    ward (broken Achille's tendon) and suffered many months with a big
    plaster thing around my leg.
    But the happiness of Muniing in the woods overcame everything! I am not
    very nimble but I can manage it and just be happy!
    Come on be uni-happy ! we are waiting for you!

    side note: Witold we have now a crazy guy who is learning at age 80!
    Some more about this later!


    --
    wobbling bear

    One Wheel : bear necessity
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