Monthly Archives: October 2013

Weekly Feature Re-up: Always falling (With style)

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When extreme unicycling happens……riders ALWAYS fall off. It’s the law that you have to fall off. There is a fine line between falling and landing a line or trick. The image above, to a non-rider looks like I’m falling to my death and even I thought I was at the time. But it’s okay kids, I landed it but I fell many times before it was landed correctly. As seen here.

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It’s good to fall! It allows the rider to know where they went wrong and how they can fix it. Don’t be scared to fall in front of people, everyone does it. Fall with style, be committed and have a laugh about it…unless you break your leg. *Cough* Alister. Then have a laugh about it after you stop crying. Remember if you fall, don’t beat yourself up about it, think about what you did wrong and fix it. Extreme Unicycling is a big thinking sport as well as being physical.
Enjoy falling and enjoy riding, PEACE!


Words: Mike Taylor
Photos: Paul Taylor

New Voodoo Unicycles clothing available now!

It’s been a long time coming but the new line of Voodoo Unicycles clothing is here!

For months people have been asking if we have any gear for sale and we’ve kept having to say no. When we get tshirts made, everyone asks us for hoodies. Likewise, whenever we get hoodies made everyone asks for tshirts. To get around this problem we got both!

We’ve also got some cool hats that are essential for any true Voodoo fan. Bobble hats and snapbacks are on our online store too! You can pay with Paypal, credit/debit card (Via Paypal) or bank transfer. We will be shipping worldwide, but for now it’s to the UK and Europe only.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the shop and grab your merch before it all sells out!

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Tuesday Top Fives

Continuing with the new series of Top Fives, this week is the turn of Kiwi trials rider Mike Padial.

Find out who MIke’s favourite riders are, what videos get him stoked to ride as well as all the other usual categories. Thanks to Chris Huriwai for the photo.

You can check out Mike and all the other Top Fives in the gallery.

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Weekly Feature Re-up: Use yer noggin!

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On 4th April 2012 Ralph Whitnall, UK Muni rider and friend of Voodoo, had a serious skiing accident in Austria while working as a chalet assistant.

“He fell 30 metres skiing down a black slope and ending on a blue run, where he was seen from the cable car. He was unconscious, and taken by helicopter to Innsbruck Hospital, where he spent nearly a week in intensive care, before going to an observation ward. Nothing broken, just a dislocated hip which was corrected. However he suffered brain injury.
Fortunately he was wearing full body armour and helmet.”

This weeks article is about safety gear. So often people overlook the importance of wearing a helmet. It’s so easy to shrug off, how often do you hit your head anyway? It only takes one freak occurrence to change your life forever.

There are three main types of crash helmet that I have seen unicyclists wear. Road, skate style and full face.

Road style:

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The road style helmet is the classic cycling crash helmet. Made from polystyrene with a thin plastic coating on the outside. Most designs have air flow vents all over to save weight and keep your head cool as you ride. They are designed to take one big impact, then they must be replaced.
This style helmet is best suited to distance riders, as generally speaking, bigger wheels go faster and you have further to fall than a smaller wheel.

Skate Style:

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This type of helmet is typically worn by BMX riders and skateboarders, often referred to as a pisspot. They are made in two parts, a tough plastic shell with a polystyrene inner fixed inside. They often have small air holes for ventilation, although not as much as road helmets. They are designed to take lots of small hits, rather than one big one.
The pisspot is best suited to trials and street riders. You don’t go as fast on a small wheel but generally take more tumbles while attempting tricks.

Full-face:

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The full-face helmet is worn by downhill mountain bikers. Designed to protect the full head, they have a tough plastic (I have see Carbon Fibre ones recently) shell lined with polystyrene and a chin guard to protect the mouth and face. Often they have a visor and are worn with goggles to provide 100% protection from dirt and debris. This type of helmet is designed for high speed impacts and should be replaced after a crash.
Personally I find full-face helmets overkill for unicycling. They are heavy and get very hot while wearing them. I find they also restrict my hearing and peripheral vision more than I would like, however this is all personal preference, if it makes you feel safer, go for it!

A lot of unicyclists also wear shinpads, however the range of choice for these is so vast that it’s a whole article in itself. If you only wear one piece of protection, I highly recommend a helmet be your first choice.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes something really awful to happen to make you realize the importance of the small things that make a big difference. You can read about Ralphs progress on his blog.

Since this article was first published Ralph has made an amazing recovery. He came along to the finals of the UK street & trials league in Milton Keynes and got on a unicycle for the first time since his accident. Amazingly he could still ride!

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Words: Edd Hawkes
Photos: Emily Johnson, Google

The Return of Top Fives : Kevin Mcmullin

Top Fives has been on hold over the summer while we’ve been super busy with shows, BUC, King Of The Road and more. Now we’re entering winter and the rain has dampened our riding spirits, we’re back on them!

To kick start the new series is none other than Canadian street legend Kevin Mcmullin!

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Check out all the Top Fives in our gallery.

Weekly Feature Re-up: The Physicality of Unicycling

Most of us think of Unicycling as a hobbie or activity rather than branding it as a sport or a form of exercise but as anyone that’s suffered an injury whilst Unicycling will tell you, it’s no joke. How often have you come in from a day of riding absolutely exhausted? Worked to failure, with nothing left in the tank? Ever woke up the next day and felt tighter than two coats of paint? Struggled to pull your jeans up because your thighs have chaffed like you’ve been massaging sandpaper with your quads? If you haven’t, then you’re not working hard enough, this is part and parcel of pushing your body to the limit within any sport and Street, Trials and Mountain Unicycling are certainly no different.

I’m 23 years old so you might be shocked to hear that recently I was diagnosed with Sciatica, an ailment often contracted by those in middle age and later. The Sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, running from the lower back, right down the back of the leg. Sciatica is when this nerve is pinched or trapped, either by a muscle or between bones like the vertebra or pelvis. Due to the length of the nerve, pain is experienced not just in the lower back, but in the glutes, hamstrings and calves and because the nerve is trapped, this often leads to a restriction in flexibility of the lower back, hips and legs. Sounds pretty rough, right?

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The pain set in at the end of November 2011 and 3 months down the line, it is only remotely better. As someone who indulges in a number of sports and physical activities, I was surprised to find that the pain didn’t intensify when playing Football, lifting weights or Boxing but in cruel twist of fate, the peak of my pain came when I was Unicycling, particularly when I was taking impacts to my legs, either missing a trick or tricking down a large drop.

I decided to skip the inevitable wait for an NHS Physio, I was deterred some what by my GP’s reaction to my injury, electing to pill me off my face with pain killers, and so I saught out a private Physio. One was recommended by a friend of mines’ Mum who had been suffering from the same thing for over a year and a half. After 8 weeks of stretching, manipulation, strengthening and some suspect massage that would be illegal if performed on Joe Blow in the street, some of which lonely, blow up doll owners probably pay a great deal for, I’m still “suffering”.

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There is a point to all of this and it’s not merely cathartic for me or an exercise in self pity. I’ve found out that my pelvis is absurdly out of alignment. Not only is it pushed backwards, giving me an exaggerated curve in my lower back, one side is higher than the other, creating the illusion that I have one leg slightly shorter than the other. The reason for this? Impact to one side of my body predominantly over the other and unequal training of one set of muscles, creating an imbalance in my body. This is more than certainly caused by 10 years of Street Unicycling, standing, flipping, spinning and jumping with my right foot forward. Could this possibly be a chronic Unicycling injury? Our Tennis Elbow, Unicyclists’ Pelvis?

Not only am I here to preach to you awareness of what you’re doing to your body, I’m hear to provide a few tips and tricks to help improve your strength, balance and flexibility which should improve your riding but most importantly, prevent serious injuries in the distant future and the not so distant future!

Single Arm Row

-Place one knee and the same hand on a bench with the other foot on the floor and dumbbell in the other hand.
-Lean forwards so that the spine is straight and appoximately parallel to the floor.
-Pull the dumbbell upwards, towards your chest. Do not allow excessive rotation of the back, or shoulder elevation.
-Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position under control

 

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This works the muscles used for a seat-out side hop, crankflip or spin. (Back, arms, shoulders/upper back)

Leg raises

-This is best done on gym equipment called the “captain’s chair”. But you can improvise if you have 2 heavy (stable) stools. Make sure they can take your weight. With one on each side of you, rest your forearms on the stools.
-Using your abs, bend your knees up towards your chest.
-Then slowly lower them back down.

 

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This works the abs in a similar way that hoping, seat in and out does. Do the moment explosively to improve speed for hopping. (Abdominals, lower back)

Box jumps/Hurdles

-Find something to jump on or over.
-Stand stationary in front of the box..
-Take off from two feet, tuck in your legs and land on both feet as softly as possible

 

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Pretty simple and straight forward. If you don’t have anything to jump onto or over, just jump in the air, although this does present a problem of measuring progression. This obviously improves your explosive strength for hoping with the unicycle or jumping off it for crankflips or spins. (Legs)

Stretching

Shoulders
It’s very important to stretch out your shoulders. Shoulders are probably the most incredible work of evolution that you will see but unfortunately, due to the advantages of multiple planes of movements, the shoulder is actually very weak and causes many athletes a lot of problems. Here’s how to stretch out your shoulders.

-Take one arm and stretch it across your body.
-Then take the opposite arm and with your forearm, push the out stretched arm towards you, placing your pushing hand in between the elbow and the wrist of the outstretched arm.
-Do this for both arms.

 

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Back and Abs

Your core is doing so much work when you Unicycle, it’s important to keep your back and your abdominals flexible. Not only will this prevent injury, it will improve your riding. Without flexibility, your body will find it hard to use explosive strength and it will struggle to get into difficult positions. Here’s how to stretch your abs.

-Lie face down on the ground.
-Bring your hands either side of you and push up supporting your upper body, keeping your legs flat on the ground with no weight on them.
-This should create a stretch in your stomach and a curve in your back.
-This is often called the”Cobra stretch” due to the similarities between the shape your body makes and the snake.

 

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Here’s how to stretch your back.

-Kneel down, making sure your backside touches your heels.
-Bend at the waist, towards the ground.
-Stretch out your arms as far as you can, you should feel a stretch in your back.
-Make sure your backside is touching your heels at all times, you should also feel a stretch here.

 

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Hips and Legs

Most of the power and balance required to even hop on the spot is delivered from your hips and legs. Because hopping requires us to favour one foot over the other, imbalances appear and this can lead to serious problems, so it’s important to stay strong and flexible. Here’s how to stretch your hips.

-Lie face up on the ground.
-Bring one leg across your body, trying to keep the rest of your body as straight as possible.
-You will also feel a stretch in your abs, that’s normal.

 

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Here’s how to stretch your hamstrings and quads.

-Standing up, bend one leg at the knee, grabbing your ankle with your hand.
-Pull your ankle up towards your backside, you should feel a stretch in the front of your leg.
-Try to keep your legs together and your back straight, don’t pull too hard on your ankle.
-If you need to hold onto something for balance, go ahead.
-Do this on both sides.

 

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-Sitting down, stretch one leg out and fold one leg in.
-Keeping your leg straight, point your toes towards you and try and touch them with your hand.
-You should feel a stretch in the back of your leg and in your back.
-Be careful when doing this, don’t stretch too far, too soon.
-Do this on both sides.

 

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Learn Switch
This is probably the most important thing I can teach anyone. As with any exercise, it’s important to train both sides of your body to eliminate any weakness or imbalance. As I mentioned above, I’ve been riding right foot forward for 10 years now and it’s finally taken it’s toll. My right side is far superior in strength, balance and flexibility in my hips, glutes, hamstrings and calves. As a result, I now have pain and inflexibility throughout my lower body. Don’t make the same mistake I did and it’s simple to avoid. Either exercise your less dominant side independently of the unicycle, perhaps holding a stretch for 10 seconds more or doing 2 or 3 more reps, maybe even an extra set on that side. Alternatively, you can learn everything with your opposite foot forward which will not only give you a technical advantage over most riders, it will mean you avoid any kind of imbalance.

Obviously there are a huge variety of exercises that will improve your overall fitness and Unicycling prowess but these are a couple of my favourites that are ideal for beginners or experts. Have a look around and experiment to keep yourself constantly improving.

Most people who take part in Unicycling are young, in their early to late teens, and therefore think very little about their health and well being. Take heed of my warning, no one is indestructible and if you want to go on riding for as long as you possibly can without compromise, you have to train right and avoid abusing your body. I’m 23 years old, probably a good 5 or 6 years way from my physical peak and yet I’m now carrying an injury which could affect me for the rest of my life. Act to prevent injury rather than rehabilitate it once it’s there. After all, we only have one body and a Unicyclist without a healthy body is like a bird without wings, make sure you look after yours.


Words: Jason Auld
Photos: Blatantly stolen from Google Images

Unicycling Tattoos – Top 5

After the recent chat online and the discovery of a Facebook group, we at Voodoo Unicycles decided it would be an interesting idea to post our favourite Unicycling tattoos.
Some people love them, some people hate them, some people just don’t care. Are they a dedication to the thing you love or are they just defacing your body, something done in the spur of the moment that we will inevitably regret? Make your own mind up, in the meantime, check out these 5 badass Unicycling tattoos and get some ink inspiration.

Maxtafari’s Skeletal Rider

This is definitely one of my favourites, starting strong. Everyone’s favourite French, pseudo-rasta DJ, Maxtafari has this awesome half sleeve of a Skeleton riding a Uni. Throw in some fire, a pair of wings and a cobweb and you’ve got a sick dedication to the one wheel. Any significant meaning behind the symbolism? Who knows but it’s a winner!

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Pink Leopard Print Unicycle

Zoltan Csaszar’s girlfriend has this little number tattooed in an intimate area (bonus points). Who doesn’t love a bit of neon pink leopard print? Just me? Disguised as tire tread, this cute stylised uni is a cool piece. Can Sinco do no wrong? Our advice, want a tattoo, get him to design it.

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Lethal Candy Paint Job

This is cool on so many levels. We love the loud, caricatured unicycle, bright colours, simplistic yet bold, then we noticed that the wheel is cutting into the skin. WTF! Badass meter just went off the scale. Very “sinco-like” in it’s brashness, it’s definitely going to catch eyes and give you an opportunity to tell girls how interesting your sport is.
 Not sure who wears this tatt but I reckon they’re a badass

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Whilst my Guitar Gently Weeps…

Got to love this. A very classical looking image of a skeleton holding a guitar,  on a Unicycle. If you described this image to anyone, it would sound goofy as hell, like the bagpiping Darth Vadar but the execution of this piece is truly beautiful. Evidently an ode to this rider’s passions, it definitely conveys much emotion.
Again, unknown rider but cool tatt.

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Voodoo Forever

We had to do it! No, really, come on, did you expect us not to include Team Voodoo rider, Jason Auld’s ink of our very own logo? Narcissism aside, this is a simple black and grey image on Jason’s calf of an already badass logo. Skulls, badass. Unicycles, badass. Jolly Roger style tattoo, badass! Free advertising, BADASS!!!
 A dedication to the sport, to the brotherhood and to the Voodoo Unicycles movement. It get’s a big thumbs up from all of us.

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If you have any Unicycling tattoos, post them on our Facebook page or Tweet them to us. Maybe you disagree with our Top 5, let’s hear from you. Planning on getting a Voodoo tattoo? Then we definitely want to see it!

Remember kids, tattoos are for life and you can’t say that about much else, besides life itself. It’s a commitment, so think carefully about where you get tattooed and what. Personally, we believe your tattoos should have personal meaning, that’s a way to ensure longevity but life is for living, don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun with it.

Team Voodoo