I've been discovering some amazingly cool things, such as rough terrain unicycles, ultimate wheels (like a unicycle without a seat), and modern penny-farthings!
Do you recall my mentioning the concept of off-road unicycles in my blog from a couple of days ago titled Ancient Roman steam engines and mountainized unicycles? As I said at that time:
Who amongst us doesn't feel a thrill running up and down our spines when we hear words like "fat knobby tires" and "super strong hubs and cranks"?
I mean, come on, who could resist one of these beauties? Well, the answer is certainly not me, because I succumbed and ordered one of the little scamps from the folks www.unicycle.com. I have to say that the "Uni-folks" are great – I phoned in my order last Thursday afternoon and received my off-road / rough terrain Torker Unistar DX 24-inch the following Monday (which would be yesterday as I pen these words).
I'm a happy camper with my brand new off-road unicycle.
"What a beauty!" I hear you cry. "Look at those trim lines, the rugged good looks, the amazing colors. . ." Well, that's very kind of you, but we're not here to talk about me, let's concentrate on the bike. Isn't it cool? Just looking at the gnarly tire and the manly black-and-red color scheme tells us that this is not a machine to be trifled with.
So now I'm all enthused . . . the only problem is my total lack of ability when it comes to riding a unicycle. But fear not, because there's nothing to fear but fear itself as my dear old dad used to say. The folks at Unicycle.com also have a DVD that teaches you how to ride one of these little ragammuffins – I watched it last night – the young kid featured on the DVD mastered the art (of staying on top of his unicycle) in only a week. So, with my natural athletic ability (he said with his fingers crossed behind his back) it shouldn't take me more than a month (or two)!
Watch this space – I will be reporting further on my progress (either from my desk or from my hospital bed).
. . . meanwhile . . .
After I'd ordered my little beauty, I spent some time roaming around the Unicycle.com website seeing what else there was out there. Good Grief Charlie Brown, I couldn't believe my eyes when I ran into something called the "Ultimate Wheel". This is like a unicycle without the seat – just the wheel. As the website says: "Need a challenge? Try this!" (And these are the folks who ride unicycles up and down mountains for goodness sake.)
The Nimbus 28-inch Ultimate Wheel (courtesy www.unicycle.com).
I must admit that I was tempted, but then I decided to be serious for a moment (I can be if I try hard enough). For someone who can't even ride a unicycle, one of these little rascals is way beyond my skills. Let's see how I get on with my 24-inch Torker (and it's not often you'll hear someone saying that) and we'll revisit the Ultimate Wheel at a later date.
But wait, there's more. Have you ever seen an old film showing someone riding a penny-farthing bicycle? The original machines were huge and looked like they were really difficult to ride, but . . . believe it or not . . . I found a much sleeker modern version on – you guessed it – my new favorite website.
The Coker Wheelman Penny-Farthing (courtesy www.unicycle.com).
With its 36-inch front tire and a 12-inch rear wheel, this little beauty combines vintage styling with today's technology; for example, the free-wheeling front axle enables you to coast or pedal just like a modern-day bicycle. Now this is really, really cool. If you happened to be riding one of these little rapscallions you would certainly turn some heads. The next time I'm in Atlanta, Georgia, I'm certainly going to visit the "Uni-folks" to check out one of these beauties up close.
And finally, before I go, did you ever ponder the origin of the name "Penny-Farthing"? Why would one give a bike a moniker like this? Well, in the not-so-distant past, the currency used in Great Britain was a little stranger than it is today. The way this worked was that there were 12 pennies in a shilling (also called a bob) and 20 shillings (240 pennies) in a pound. In addition to a variety of other coins, there was a farthing (a quarter of a penny) and a halfpenny (pronounced hapenny or haypeni). So the name "Penny-Farthing" reflected the fact that the bike's front and back wheels sort of looked like a penny placed next to a farthing.
In February 1971, Great Britain retired the concept of pounds, shillings, and pence and officially adopted a decimal system in which a pound equaled 100 pennies (they were called "new pennies" at the time). Strange as it may seem, the majority of British citizens fought this move tooth-and-nail claiming that the new scheme was far too complicated and would never catch on! It's true – I was there at the time – how well I remember little old ladies twittering on that this was the end of civilization as we knew it! But that's a topic for another day (Click Here for more information on "Pounds, Shillings, and Pence").
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.