04 June 2010

He swears it's not as hard as it looks - we just don't believe him: Meet the world's most extreme unicyclist

It looks like a circus act - but this extreme sportsman has taken unicycling to the next level.
Mono-wheeled adventurer Kris Holm has spent the last 23 years travelling the world - from the Great Wall of China to the wilds of California - honing his skills.

Now the 36-year-old from Vancouver is gearing up for his latest challenge - taking on two-wheeled riders in a mammoth competitive race.

Participating in the BC Bike Race from Vancouver to Whistler in Canada, Kris will compete for seven days against the best the bicycle world has to offer.

All about balance: Unicyclist Kris Holm at the Unicon X event on  the Great Wall of China, 2000

All about balance: Unicyclist Kris Holm at the Unicon X event on the Great Wall of China, 2000

Nice view: Holm at a sea stack in 2003 on Panther Beach,  California

Nice view: Holm at a sea stack in 2003 on Panther Beach, California

Averaging 18 miles a day as a solo rider, Kris will take on 500 other mountain bike enthusiasts in the hardcore 125 km race which bills itself as the 'Ultimate Single-track Experience'.

'I am under no illusions about winning the race,' said Kris, who owns his own unicycling firm known as Kris Holm Unicycles.

'I just hope that I don't finish last, that is my goal. Hopefully I can show up a few two-wheeled adventure cyclists and fly the flag for unicycling.'

Riding unicycles since he was 12 years old, Kris is the world's most experienced and best known exponent of riding on one wheel in history.

Travelling the world to face new off-road challenges on his unicycles, Kris has taken his skills to 14 different countries.

No roads? No problem: Holm at the 4th Annual Moab Munifest in  April 2003 in Moab, Utah

No roads? No problem: Holm at the 4th Annual Moab Munifest in April 2003 in Moab, Utah

'My favourite experiences must be riding along The Great Wall of China in 2000. That was cool - as was riding up Orizaba, Mexico, the third highest mountain in the North American continent in 2003,' said Kris who also works as a geologist for a well known North American geology firm

'However, it is the off road tracks that I go on, like the famous North Shore of Vancouver that are my favourite rides.

'That track for cyclists is like the North Shore of Hawaii for surfers and so the challenges for a unicyclist are more.'

Talking about the upcoming race which begins on June 26, Kris remains positive about his chances.

'The thing about unicycling is that it is quite easy to learn,' said Kris.

'If you think about it, it takes you around two months to learn to ride a bike when you are younger and how many times did you fall off?

It's easy: Holm at The Moab White Rim through which he covered 100  miles off-road in four days in April 2010 in Moab, Utah

It's easy: Holm at The Moab White Rim through which he covered 100 miles off-road in four days in April 2010 in Moab, Utah

'It is just because everyone can ride a two-wheeled bike that they think it is difficult.

'It is obviously about balance, but about tension and poise too.'

Explaining that without two wheels the rider has to lean in all directions at different times, Kris begins to explain his prowess on the unicycle.

'The BC Bike Riders will be at a disadvantage to me, especially in the up hill and rockier sections,' said Kris.

'I have far more ability to move around rocks and outcrops because for a start you are in total control of only one wheel and have less speed.

'Remember if you have an accident instead of flying off the front handlebars, you just hop off.

'The largest number of injuries for unicyclists are sprained ankles, not broken collarbones.'

In addition to his numerous treks around the world, Kris has helped to popularise the previously unknown sport of extreme unicycling.

'I have appeared in 13 films around the world about my cycling, one of the best being my attempt on the summit of Orizaba, Mexico,' said Kris.

'I even held the unicycle side hop world record from 1998-2004.

'I just hope that my lack of training doesn't let me down during the race. It will be fun.'

source


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