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The Northerner

Freshman unicycles over ‘bumps in the road’

Katie Smolkovich, Contributing Writer

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He is seen in passing; sometimes riding to the dorms, other times going to class. But regardless of where he is going, one thing is for sure, it is always on one wheel.

This one-wheeled mystery man in question is none other than freshman Computer Information Technology major Wayne Leeke, and unicycling is not just his hobby, but also his motivation to race past the troubles in his life.

Leeke said that when he first started college, he didn’t get much exercise with his major and didn’t feel energized sitting on the computer for the majority of his day, at times accomplishing six hours of programming in just one sitting.

“When I first started college, there was nothing much for me to do,” Leeke said. “I didn’t have very many hobbies… because I didn’t have much money. I had maybe $200 in my name and it wasn’t that I was not motivated; I was bored. I tried to find a hobby that was challenging.”

Leeke said he found unicycling through many Youtube videos on the subject because he spent a lot of time on the internet and from being a self-proclaimed “crazy kid.”

The Youtube videos he was inspired by were of mountain bikers on unicycles.

Enthusiasts like these inspired him, however, after suffering two concussions in the past he doesn’t do any tricks.

“Learning to jump on and off a unicycle is hard enough,” Leeke said.

Since he started unicycling in August 2013, Leeke has never been late to class. He said it’s difficult climbing uphill, but you go just as fast as you do on a mountain bike.

However, while going downhill, his top speed was seven mph.

“Actually, mounting is the hardest because it requires precision and initial balance,” Leeke said.

He has also found difficulty in turning. Leeke said he practiced on Goldenrod Road in Highland Heights.

“Going on curbs is harder than going off,” he said.

The technical term Leeke gave for going off the curb but hitting the ground is recoil and that is something you want to avoid.

 

Practicing

Unlike riding a bike, it’s easy to forget how to ride a unicycle. Even after just a month, Leeke said his skills would dull.

However, through more practice, more injuries happen and more challenges sprung up. A wreck left him with a cracked rib and hairline fracture in the skull.

Another thing Leeke said you need to learn is actually staying centered on the unicycle.

“You have to just jump off,” he said. “I know it sounds dangerous, but it’s different than mounting on and off a bike.”

The standard 24-inch wheel, he said, is easier to stay on than the large 30-inch wheel used by mountain unicyclists.

Leeke looked at his challenges in a reflective but optimistic light.

“An obstacle is just an obstacle,” he said. “You fall off something; you get back on.”

Lizzie Kibler, sophomore journalism major, met Leeke through Alpha Phi Omega; Kibler is now Leeke’s little.

“He’s really fun, outgoing, and very sarcastic,” Kibler said. “Anything he gives out I dish straight back. He’s a good egg.”

 

Other interests

Leeke is also impassioned by comic books and his favorite is Hellboy.

“I could be happy reading Hellboy all day because it has real people put into impossible positions,” Leeke said.

Amongst his other interests which include art, screen and print-making, and being a certified amateur radio operator, Leeke is writing a comic book as well.

“If you want to do something or be something, it takes a lot of dedication and goal planning, starting with small goals and procedural things where I use art as an example,” Leeke said.

Leeke described himself as eccentric, but that slightly deviating from the average is not a bad

“A poisonous way of thinking is comparing your growth to other people,” Leeke said. “Compare yourself to an oak tree because in time, it will grow into the role it wants to be.”

Describing himself as ambitious and hard working, Leeke said “I have had days so bad that all I wanted was to lie on the floor, but it may not have worked yesterday, but there is an equal chance it would get better the next…I spent a good portion of my life being sad but I won’t let that cripple me.”

Now Leeke has a full-ride and is active in Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Gamma Phi chapter, in which he will run for secretary for this upcoming semester.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Freshman unicycles over ‘bumps in the road’