Iowa City Stories

February 18, 2010

University of Iowa student uses unicycle as main mode of transportation

Filed under: Local Profiles — sherrihealy @ 3:09 pm

By Sherri Healy

While many students lace up their shoes, start their cars, or hop on the University Cambus to get to class, one University of Iowa Student uses a different, unique mode of transportation.

Unlike many other students who ride their bicycles to class, Luther Bangert, 24, rides another member of the cycle family: his unicycle.

Bangert is not only seen riding his unicycle to class, but to work and other daily activities as well. For the last year and a half, unicycling has been his main mode of transportation. In any season from snow and ice in December to sunshine in June, Bangert can be seen traveling around Iowa City with his unicycle.

According to Bangert, he has learned how to maneuver pretty easily on his unicycle in the snow and ice Iowa City has seen the past few months. But some people think otherwise.

“A lady came up to me a couple of weeks ago and said she would call the cops on me if she saw me doing it around here again because she was worried I would fall off and she would hit me,” Bangert said. “I just told her I thought I was as competent as a bicycle rider.”

As a self-taught unicyclist, Bangert has learned how to ride a variety of unicycles. When he first took an interest in the sport, he practiced every day for an hour on a smaller unicycle until he perfected the technique two months later. “You have to dedicate yourself pretty hard to it, but it’s pretty fulfilling when you finally do it,” Bangert said.

Bangert demonstrating how to get on his six-foot tall unicycle.

Now, years later, Bangert has taught himself how to ride more advanced and challenging forms of unicycles. It took him two months to simply learn how to get on his unicycle that is six feet tall.

“The hardest thing to learn was the six-foot tall unicycle. It was like learning how to ride a unicycle all over again,” Bangert explained. “I’ve been practicing how to ride that and balancing a ten foot pole with a bucket on my chin while juggling at the same time.”

Unicycling isn’t the only unique talent Bangert possesses. Along with unicycling, he practices:

Knife throwing is the latest talent he is trying to perfect. “No one really wants to let me throw them at them yet,” Bangert said. “I want to work up to throwing them at my friend while he’s sword swallowing, but he’s not that into it yet.”

Since unicycling is such a unique sport, Bangert receives a mix of reactions from the general public. According to Bangert, intoxicated people regularly give him a hard time about his hobby when he rides his unicycle around at night.

Other people respect Bangert’s talents. “I think it’s really cool. I would never be able to unicycle like Luther does,” co-worker Kelly Manders, 19, said. “It’s different and I appreciate that. It’s something you don’t see everyday; not many people unicycle around Iowa City.”

“People tell me that it makes their day a lot of the time,” Bangert added.

To see Bangert’s unique talents in action, check him out at his performance on March 13th when he opens for his cousin William Whitmore at the Grand Theatre in Keokuk, Iowa.

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