The sport of unicycling has various styles and types of riding. Over the years, riders have grown from doing simple tricks to performing jaw-dropping stunts, tricks, and riding.
For many years, the most wide spread style of unicycling has been freestyle. An enormous amount of tricks and variations have been created. At the National Unicycle Competition, freestyle events include individual, pair, and group routines. Many of these events are similar to ice skating in form and all are performed with music. For a routine to win in competition, it must have a high level of difficulty and project a high level of presentation and showmanship. New moves and variations are continuously being created and performed. Freestyle unicycling has been and still is highly influential in unicycling around the world.
In the last few years, extreme unicycling has exploded in popularity. Within extreme unicycling are several different styles including street, muni (mountain unicycling), and trials. Street unicycling is comparable to skateboarding and BMX biking in regard to the type of tricks done and is often done at skate parks. A great street rider combines huge flip tricks (jumping off the unicycle and flipping the wheel and often spinning the unicycle with it), grinding on rails, riding or jumping off obstacles. Muni has also tested the limits of endurance and balance. The physics of a unicycle allow it to be ridden up and down enormous inclines. Riding on and over obstacles including rocks, logs, and man made ramps are favorite muni lines. Another type of riding, trials, is similar to this. The riding done by the worlds top trials riders may seem dangerous or too extreme to the normal person. Trials riding focuses on being able to jump enormous heights and lengths and navigate any challenging obstacle. The best trials riders in the world can easily jump up 3 or 4 feet and drop from twice that height. A good trials rider should be able to navigate any surface, from railings to rocks to logs. Flatland unicycling, which is a unique blend of street and freestyle, often is considered part of extreme unicycling as well. Flatland unicycling utilizes a variety of different tricks to create smooth combos. Extreme riding is just one type that is now brimming with interest.
Recently, there has been increasing interest for long distance and racing. Most distance riders use a single speed, 36-inch diameter wheeled unicycle. In 2008, a Tour-de-France like ride was held in Nova Scotia, called Ride the Lobster (RTL). Thirty-five teams took part in the five-day, 800 kilometer relay race across the island. The winning team from Germany took only 36 hours and 17minutes to complete the first-of-its kind race. Many more leisurely tours have taken place in the Swiss Alps, Mediterranean, and Vietnam. Distance unicycles, also called Cokers because of the custom tire made by Coker Tire Co., are the fastest type of unicycle. At the 2008 International Championships, the winner of the 42K marathon race took only one hour and twenty-seven minutes, which is an average of 30km/hr or 18.6 mph. That’s fast. This part of unicycling has huge potential for gaining more popularity in the years to come.
Unicycling has been around for just over one hundred years, yet it has grown into a sizable sport with many different styles. Now the sport is growing out of just freestyle and into other types and styles including extreme and distance riding. In the future unicycling will continue to grow and develop as it has been for the last hundred years.