Getting around UNC requires a mode of transportation. Many students take the bus or walk, some students bike and a few students skateboard. However, there is one student who has found a different way to their COMP 401 class: unicycling.
Meet Jasper Christie.
Christie, a first-year computer science major, can be seen unicycling to and from all of their classes as they weave through students on Polk Place walkways. Christie’s introduction to unicycling came from their family.
“All of my brothers also unicycle,” they said. “My older brother started teaching me, and I started learning to ride about two years ago. I took a break because it was too hard, and about a year ago I picked it up again, so I could kind of ride, but I wasn’t very good.”
After putting in more time and effort their second time around, Christie became more comfortable with the unicycle and planned to continue unicycling in college.
“This campus is pretty big, so I knew I was going to bring my unicycle,” they said.
Christie’s decision to unicycle also came from misfortune. They said their bike was stolen before the fall semester, which lead Christie to rely completely on unicycling to get around Chapel Hill.
“Turns out unicycling around campus is way easier for me than walking, just because it’s faster,” Christie said.
Despite the convenience of unicycling, Christie identified some of the hazards around campus that predominantly impact a unicyclist.
“It’s less stable,” Christie said. “You go back and forth easily if you go over a bump. There’s a lot of people, so it’s hard to weave around them sometimes. Also, the bricks are super bumpy, so I’ve fallen on those a lot.”
Christie recommended those interested to visit unicycle.com and purchase a trainer unicycle, which they've used for about a year.
“You’re supposed to get up next to a fence or rail and slowly hoist yourself onto the unicycle, and you can learn to go off on your own without the help,” they said. “But just know that riding the unicycle involves falling a lot. However, you won’t hurt yourself most of the time. It’s surprisingly hard to hurt yourself on a unicycle. You can always land on your feet. There’s so much room to bail — it’ll kind of fly out under you, but you’ll be fine.”
Some of Christie’s friends are still hesitant, in spite of their reassurances.
“I think it’s very cool and impressive,” said sophomore Kipp Williams. “They’ve offered to let me try and I said, ‘Maybe another time.’ I think I would just fall off and it would be very funny.”
First-year Olivia Fernandez echoed similar sentiments.
“I think it’s really cool,” Fernandez said. “They’ve offered a bunch of times, but I’m too scared.”
Not all of Christie’s unicycling trips have gone smoothly, however.
“I had just gotten tea from Yaya,” Christie said. “I was really excited because I used my discount and I had a bag with two boba teas. There were so many people on the diagonal walkway on the quad so I just rode on the grass. But I hit this giant hole that I didn’t know was there, and I flew off my unicycle and my tea just burst open. There were 100 people there, which was really funny.”
Despite their mishaps, Christie says they plan to continue unicycling during their time at Carolina. Their roommate, Ella Carter, testified to Christie's dedication.
“They’ll ride their unicycle no matter what,” Carter said. "When the water went out, they went out to Franklin and got a 16-pack of water bottles and carried it in their arms a mile and a half back to Craige.”
Through a water crisis, a hurricane and various snow days, Christie's commitment to unicycling is unwavering, despite the occasional wobbles in their unicycle path.
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