Calves like rocks and impeccable posture best describe Alvin Parker, 45, as he rides over Vancouver, BC’s Burrard Street Bridge. As a unicyclist since the age of 11, falls are pretty rare. In fact, Parker said his unicycle is like a second set of legs. “It’s not hard. It’s more stable than rollerblades and it’s more stable than skateboarding. It’s sort of like walking.”
Parker commutes about 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) to work from the West End of Vancouver to the corner of 10th Avenue and Alma Street and goes for longer rides on the weekend. A travel consultant by day, Parker said that before he re-introduced unicycling into his routine, he was depressed, not getting enough exercise and not getting enough fresh air. Since swapping a bus pass for his unicycle five years ago, Parker has regained his lust for life.
“I’ve been so happy since then,” he said with a large grin. Now, he looks forward to attaching his lunch bag to his seat post, pulling on his back pack and commuting to and from work.
Parker said he sees about five other unicyclists traveling along his route on a regular basis and a burgeoning interest in unicycling as a mode of transportation.
“It’s growing everywhere… I think it’s just the perfect urban commuter vehicle,” he explained.
Parker also notices the smiles he gets from people when he rides. “You get into conversations with everyone,” he said, “people just come up and start talking to you all the time, and that’s great.” Parker is more than happy to talk to them about the transportation mode he says is easy to learn (it only took him a week to master the unicycle) and gives you a great core and leg workout.
“I want more people to discover it,” he said. “Unicycling is really like a big secret.”
Parker rides a commuter unicycle with 29-inch wheels from Bedford Unicycles: www.bedfordunicycles.ca
The Vancouver Unicyclists meet Wednesdays in front of Science World: www.vanuni.com
Originally published in the Jan/ Feb 2010 issue of Momentum Magazine and on momentummag.com.