Danielle's Story - Unicycling, Unicon17 and Life

I learned to ride a unicycle at age 51 (I’m now 53). I’m originally from Montreal, but I was living in Atlanta GA when I decided to learn to ride.

  Danielle Hop down steps 12

I naturally found my way to unicycle.com in Marietta, GA and got to know Amy and Josh. I also enjoyed riding with Kevin, who now works part time for UDC. I didn’t take any lessons; like many people, I figured it out on my own with a lot of perseverance. I wish I had had someone to teach me; I probably would have progressed a bit faster. However, given the fact that I’m only moderately talented at best, I’m very pleased with my progress. Mostly, I’m extremely happy that I have found such a versatile, interesting, and challenging sport that has such incredible competitions/conventions! When people ask me what style I ride, I’m not sure what to say…Here’s a video I entered at UNICON 17 http://youtu.be/YFbAKe_RNk0 and another one I made just before that http://youtu.be/sviia6Jbidg Uhhhh…I don’t know what my style of riding is. I just unicycle in as many interesting places as I can and learn what skills I think I can, or my friends push me to learn.

Canal Turn2 June 16 2014

I have about 20 unicycles! I have nine Hoppley 16” unis, four 20” clubs, a Qu-Ax 24” muni, a 24” Oracle with disc brake, a 19" Impact street uni (my absolute favourite!), a Nimbus trials, and a KH trials. I also have some “refurbished” Sun unicycles I rescued from Craigslist. I have so many unis because I run a small unicycling school in Montreal (that I originally started in Atlanta), called “Un Pour Tous Monocycle” or “One For All Unicycling”. www.oneforalluni.com

I moved back to Montreal in December of 2013 to be with my family. I packed up 19 unicycles, 4 cats, and whatever else I could stuff into my Toyota Corolla and drove in the ice and snow for four days to get back here. And I’m SO happy I came back in time for UNICON 17!!! What a fantastic experience. I loved every minute of it.

I tried competing at NAUCC in 2013, which went fine. Then I tried again at NAUCC in 2014, but I realized that I don’t like competing. I love everything else about the competitions, such as watching others ride, taking photos of them, and riding with people when the competitions are over (that is by far my favorite part). For me, the only problem with competing is its so competitive! Nah, it’s just me…I find it stressful because I want to win and that just isn’t going to happen. And really, it doesn’t matter if I win or not. I don’t need competition to push myself. I get that from riding with other people or simply wanting to do something new every time I ride. If I see someone who is about my level doing something I think I can do, then I’ll go for it. If I don’t get it, I laugh and keep working on it. I just wish I would stop injuring myself. I started off quite fearless, but as I started to twist my ankles, break fingers, and get tendonitis in various joints, I’ve had to slow down a little and be a bit more careful. But that’s fine. That’s one of the only times I notice my age. The main reason I’m more careful is if I hurt myself it means I can’t ride for a few weeks, which drives me crazy! The other time I notice my age is when I realize many of my friends are teenagers or in their early 20s! For goodness sake…should I act my age? Nah…well not always. I kind of see these awesome kids as my nieces and nephews. I look up to them but sometimes I also see how young they are and want to look after them. Other times I feel sad and a bit frustrated because I can’t just jump in and be one of the gang. But that’s life.

UNICON 17 was fantastic! I feel so proud of Hugo, Benoit and his family, and Estelle and all the organizers. I felt tremendous pride seeing everyone enjoy the city I was born and raised in. It’s really a fantastic place. I’m so happy I moved back here. From day one at UNICON 17 I started taking photos. I have to be honest and say that at the beginning of UNICON 17 I hardly knew anything about photography. I had made several videos, but hadn’t touched still photography. But I dove in (like I did with unicycling) and asked questions, took thousands of photos, and learned so much about unicycling and sports photography over 2 weeks it’s crazy!

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The other photographers at UNICON, especially Spencer Hochberg, were very generous with their knowledge and they helped me in the first few days to get the camera settings right in different lighting conditions. During the street competition at Le Taz, I asked Spencer to help me get the right settings…Despite being really busy (to say the least) he took the time to help me get the right settings and explained a few things, and BOING! something finally “clicked” (haha I made a pun) and from that point on I was able to make sense of a contraption I was afraid to take out of the box about 6 months ago.

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Before and during UNICON I read online about how to take good sports photos. I must say, that stuff works! I do seem to have some talent for photography, but the tips I read, mixed with a bit of my own style, and help from other photographers at UNICON really helped.

I didn’t ride as much as I wanted to at UNICON 17, but who does? I mean, you have to eat and sleep and stuff… I rode mostly in the evenings in the parking lot. It was so much fun! I wish I could do that everyday…but again, who doesn’t?

I think one of the main things that struck me during UNICON 17 was how incredible and difficult each and every unicycling discipline is. I enjoyed every event I attended. I just wish I could have gone to more of them. A stereotype of freestyle riders being more delicate and less tough than extreme riders was completely shattered for me. Freestyle riders and extreme riders are the same. They are dedicated, tough, athletic, you name it. So many of these athletes, young and old and in between, ride so many different disciplines. It’s so impressive to see a pretty young freestyle rider in a flowing skirt one day, then see her riding muni and winning the next! It’s all just fantastic.

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Here are my favourite shots from Unicon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157646225399280/

Danielle

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