Day and night, thousands of Ohio University students canter around campus by foot, bike, long board and unicycle.
That’s right, unicycle. Sophomore mechanical engineering major and unicycling extraordinaire, Johnny Muter, gave Speakeasy the dish on what it’s like to be a one-wheeled badass.
1. So, how’d you start?
When I was about 12 years old, my step cousin had one and I always thought it was cool and convinced myself I could ride one. Right before my grandma passed away, she bought me my own. After that I was determined, so I taught myself in about two weeks.
2. And at what point did you graduate to the 6-foot-tall unicycle you’re currently riding?
My older brother’s friend had it and I thought I could ride it, so I gave him 50 bucks at prom and it was mine.
3. Do you ever fall?
Oh of course, especially when I was learning. But once you get the hang of it you don’t fall as much. But this one time, I got my shoelaces stuck in the chain on my big unicycle and I ate shit. It sucked.
4. Ouch. Do you ever get paid to soften the blow?
I’ve done a few parades in Cleveland, but not other than that.
5. So break it down for us: How do you do it?
It’s all about balance and the muscles in your abs and below your waist. You steer by swinging your hips, that’s about it. It’s really good exercise though, it’s a lot like riding one of those speed bike things.
6. Do you have a unicycling memory you’re particularly fond of?
When I was in middle school, my school had a talent show. Although I didn’t have an actual act, I’d ride around on stage in between acts and everybody ate it up.
7. Is that the kind of reaction you normally get from the two-wheeled population?
When I ride around by myself, I don’t know if people look at me and think I’m [absolutely] insane or if they think it’s cool. But when people actually talk to me, they’re usually fascinated by it because they’ve never thought to themselves, I’m gonna buy a 6-foot unicycle.
8. Do you have any advice for aspiring unicyclists?
Just buy one and don’t pussy out and think you can’t do it. If you can ride a bike with no handlebars, you can ride a unicycle.
9. Well Johnny, you’re definitely one of a kind. Any parting words?
My balls still hurt.