Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Playground

A few weeks before Eli got out of school, we went to Unicycle Club on Friday, as always.

After I learned how to ride, I've always focused on using the unicycle as a way to stay fit. I get a ridiculous workout in a 3-mile ride, and it's fun to ride on trails that are normally used by runners and cyclists.

I usually don't ride during club, because I spend most of my time helping new kids learn, but it means I get to watch more of what's going on, and I noticed something last week that blew me away.

Club takes place in a regulation-sized gym, and there are about twenty kids who can ride. Eli 8.10 was playing basketball with his friend Erin.

Yes, basketball on a unicycle.

They were playing full-court, dribbling and shooting just like a regular game, except they were riding the whole time. Eli wound up winning 18-17 (one point per basket), and they played for at least half an hour.

In another corner of the gym, about half a dozen kids were playing tag. Again, just like regular tag, but on unicycles.

Another group was playing follow the leader.

That's when I realized how differently they saw the unicycle from how I do. To them, the unicyle was just a way to play, and once they could ride well enough, they turned the gym into a gigantic playground, playing all the same games they played during recess.

It was just recess on one wheel.

Their approach also means that they keep getting better, because they're always trying maneuvers that are at the very edge of their abilities. If their skill is a circle, they're always working at the edge of the circle.

I go to the edge of my skill circle occasionally, but I'm really much more into piling up miles and wanting to be able to point at numbers that I consider achievements. So my endurance has increased substantially, and I'm much stronger, but I don't have that fine level of skill.

It's not that what I do isn't fun--it's quite a lot of fun, really--but it's not as carefree as what the kids are doing, and I think I envy them.

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