Rebecca Woodrow 

Every Friday, Perdeby looks at the hidden wonderful and weird things that happen on campus. This week we’ll look at the art of unicycling on campus. 

UP is no stranger to a variety of transport measures. Buses, cars, golf-carts, scooters, motorbikes, bicycles, and skateboards are seen across campus. UP students are used to handling this bustling array by looking out for approaching wheels. But the most likely measure of transport to get people to stop in their tracks in surprise and delight is the growing amount of unicycles.

In Perdeby’s efforts to unmask UP secrets and show off the university’s hidden gems, this writer was sent on a quest to find the campus unicyclists. And I did.
First off, if you think all the unicyclists on campus know each other, they do. They gather fairly frequently on Hatfield Campus and at the Hillcrest Campus and co-ordinate themselves and their activities in the adorably-named WhatsApp group chat, “uni@uni”.

This group of unicyclists all have their unicycling origin stories with friendship heavily featuring as the foundation. One amusing anecdote from third-year mechanical engineering student, Niel Muire, has him trying to impress a girl by approaching some unicyclists to try and learn how to unicycle on the the fly, “The girl fell away but the unicycle stayed”. In all their respective beginnings with the activity though, friendship and unicycling went hand-in-hand.

Lauric Hilhorst, third-year mechanical engineering student, has been an avid unicyclist since the end of first year and elaborated on some of the on-campus unicycling, “We mostly cycle together as a group on campus in the Amphitheater at least once a week, sometimes more often. We have also on occasion done ‘campus cruises’ where we ride randomly around campus in a group. Otherwise we also ride in between classes and such.”

Hanna van Wyk, another third-year mechanical engineering student, elaborated on her personal and understandable highlights and lowlights. The lows of the sport are its constant fight against gravity and the subsequent bruising, “It’s difficult to fall but you can still get smacked with the pedals no matter how good you get”. The benefits far outweigh any of that, though. “Developing a strong bum and legs, good balance, makes people smile and it really is fun… especially if you have a community of people as excited about it as you are!” And the South African unicyclist community is a good and growing one, as indicated by third-year actuarial science student, Layla Norman, sharing information on the provincial group of unicyclists and their semiregular get-togethers where other lesser-known physical activities like “slack-lining” are explored.

So, now we all know about the unicyclists on campus and they are a friendly bunch. All the unicyclists who volunteered information emphasised their approachability and willingness to let others have a go on their rides, just make sure to leave your clown jokes behind.


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