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Clowning around: Alexi Duggins tries out a unicycle docking station

Posted at 3:00 pm, May 25, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment, Fun London
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Editor-at-large Alexi Duggins at your mercy. So you had him investigate commuting like a clown.

A unicycle docking station: why? Most people would ratherpoke a Rottweiler in thetonsils than commute on a bike that offers the extreme skincare afforded  by a pavement facial scrub. So Lord knows how I let you lot convince me to do this. My balance is bad. Real bad. On a scale of stability, I rank slightly below Chris Moyles performing ‘Riverdance’ on wet garden furniture.

So as I step into Russell Square to take my chances with a bingo company’s unicyle scheme, I’m thinking I must be nuts. Fortunately, there’s no commuting involved. The rank of unicycles might be styled up to look like a Boris Bike stand – and like the Barclays scheme, you might get a 30-minute free ride out of it – but it’s just a free lesson in riding a one-wheeled bike. Looks like I’m not crazy after all. Although I am slightly unbalanced.

‘Pedal faster if you start to fall forward!’ urges my instructor, Adam. I fall forward. ‘Keep your eyes on the horizon! If you look down you’ll lose your balance!’ I look down and lose my balance. ‘What if I fall backwards?’ I squeal. ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got you.’ ‘And sideways?’ ‘Well, you were the one who said no to all the safety gear.’

Adam has me well supported, though. As I pedal around Russell Square’s perimeter pathway, I have my arm around his shoulders (his idea, honest). When I begin to topple like a narcoleptic on a bar stool, he thrusts his torso into me for support. And it’s nigh-on impossible to zag wildly off to the side, because his hand’s underneath the back of my seat. Which is comforting. Although it does make me look a little like a one-wheeled meat puppet.

It’s really fun. And then at the end of our session, Adam slides away from me until he’s only supporting me by his fingers. Then he removes them and… I’m… doing it on my own! It’s amazing! Then I fall off again. Still, in half an hour, it’s possible for even a balance free dolt like me to become relatively proficient. But, well, there’s one slight issue. It’s that… that… Oh, sod it, let’s cut to the chase (not something that’s advisable on a unicycle): it does cause a slight crotch pain.

‘Don’t worry about that,’ says Adam. ‘Sometimes I spend the whole day on the unicycle. You could fry an egg on my nuts afterwards.’ That’s all right, then. A slight crotch discomfort: I’m sure I can get a handle on that. And that’s more than you can say for a unicycle.

How much: Free. Sessions last half an hour. To book tweet @jackpotjoy with hashtag #jackpotjoybikes. Drop-in sessions also available.

Read more of Alexi’s adventures here.

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