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Unicyclists invade to share unique skills in Zelienople, neighboring communities

| Thursday, July 25, 2013, 2:26 p.m.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Andy Manfred, 26, of Butler and unicyclist with the Butler Wobble jumps down the steps outside the Carnegie Science Center during an exhibition by Butler Wobble in conjunction with the Science Center’s newest exhibit, 'BIKES: Science on Two Wheels,' Saturday. The Butler Wobble is a Butler-area organization that encourages both new and experienced unicycle riders to pursue this unique hobby
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Bill Davey, 31, of Butler and unicyclist with the Butler Wobble (top right) jumps the stairs Carnegie Science Center during an exhibition by Butler Wobble in conjunction with the Science Center’s newest exhibit, 'BIKES: Science on Two Wheels,' Saturday. The Butler Wobble is a Butler-area organization that encourages both new and experienced unicycle riders to pursue this unique hobby
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Bill Davey, 31, of Butler and unicyclist with the Butler Wobble (top right) jumps obstacles at the Carnegie Science Center during an exhibition by Butler Wobble in conjunction with the Science Center’s newest exhibit, 'BIKES: Science on Two Wheels,' Saturday. The Butler Wobble is a Butler-area organization that encourages both new and experienced unicycle riders to pursue this unique hobby
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Dave Krack of Butler and unicyclist with the Butler Wobble (top right) jumps obstacles outside the Carnegie Science Center during an exhibition by Butler Wobble in conjunction with the Science Center’s newest exhibit, 'BIKES: Science on Two Wheels,' Saturday. The Butler Wobble is a Butler-area organization that encourages both new and experienced unicycle riders to pursue this unique hobby

If you have seen hundreds of people riding around on unicycles this week, don't panic. It's not your imagination.

The North American Unicycling Convention and Championships is being held through Saturday at various locations in Zelienople, Harmony and Portersville. Admission is free for all spectators.

“We just want people to come out, watch it and have fun seeing the amazing stuff that's going on,” said David Krack, founder of Butler Wobble and the NAUCC's host this year.

The NAUCC featured 25 competitions, including a 26.2-mile marathon in the Moraine area on July 23.

The week-long series of competitions also will feature different styles of unicycling such as street, in which competitors use stairs sets, handrails and ledges to do tricks and stunts.

Another competition will be trials, in which unicyclists must ride or hop from one location to the next, sometimes having to jump up or down several feet in the air, all without letting their feet touch the ground.

“Traditional unicycling would be artistic performances by people in costumes doing things like juggling, but this will have every discipline that you can imagine on a unicycle,” Krack said.

Krack, 41, and his wife Lisa, 40, brought unicycling to Butler in 2009 when they formed Butler Wobble, a group that has grown from three people to 30 in four years. David and Lisa Krack will compete in several NAUCC events.

“I have balance issues from ear infections, and I thought I could never do it,” Lisa Krack said. “I decided to give a try, and it turns out that unicycling helps your balance a lot.”

Butler Wobble currently meets at The Wheel Mill in downtown Pittsburgh from 7 to 10 p.m. on Mondays.

Admission to The Wheel Mill is $10 for adults, $7 for children 8 to 12 and $2 for children 7 and under for the weekly unicycling session.

The Kracks provide unicycles and helmets.

“We also want to offer unicycling for free to anyone that wants to give it a try,” David Krack said.

The group will begin to unicycle on a weekly basis at Butler's YMCA, where admission is free, on Nov. 2.

“Our relationship with the YMCA is so important, because it takes multiple sessions to learn how to ride,” David Krack said.

Beginners take about 10 hours to learn how to ride a unicycle on a flat surface, but he said some people can learn the basic skills in as little as six hours.

“We always have enough experienced unicyclists there to make sure everyone is safe, and we always say rule number one is nobody gets hurt,” he said.

More information on the NAUCC is at uninationals2013.com.

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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