Elijah Roberts: “The Unicycle Guy”

In this day and age, technology has enabled us to do some amazing things. We can go to space, we have had some incredible advancements in medicine and we are even able to interview the Unicycle Guy via Facebook message. Here is what I discovered.

Year: Junior

Major: Chemistry with a concentration in materials science

Hometown: Powhatan, Virginia

Before I begin, how do you feel about being called "The Unicycle Guy"?

Well, I guess I had it coming riding a unicycle to class every day. It was really cool freshman year having that many people notice me for something that I loved doing and put so much work in to learn, but I got over it pretty quickly, and I think everyone else did, too.

How did you get into riding a unicycle?

Well, before I started riding a unicycle, I was an avid biker. Powhatan is a pretty rural place, so that's just how kids got around. When we weren't in transit we were always learning new tricks to try to one-up each other, and my personal favorite was the good old fashioned "no-hander." I did it so much that I could get on the bike, ride to where I was going and get off, only touching the handlebars to brake when needed. That went on for awhile, until about the summer of 2007. I was in Jacksonville, Wyoming, road tripping with my family and I saw two kids ride by me on a unicycle. That was pretty life-changing. I had to have one… and when I got home, I did.

Were these kids your only influence in getting a unicycle? Or were there any other inspirations?

Well there is this Richmond performer named Jonathan the Juggler. He is a magician, comedian, juggler and unicyclist. I'd seen him about 6-10 times in my childhood at various birthday parties and summer camps. He has a seven foot tall unicycle that he rides during his acts while juggling! He still continues to be an inspiration of mine even today.

How did you learn to ride the unicycle? How long did it take you?

I just learned to ride by pedaling up and down the hallway of my house. When I started getting more comfortable I could lean on the walls less, and eventually I could ride up and down the hall unsupported. Next, I took it outside and just did laps around the neighborhood whenever I could. The rest, I guess you can say, is history. I am still no expert, but to get comfortable I’d say it took me about an hour a day for a month.

Have you had any serious accidents?

Accidents don’t happen all that often and they usually aren’t too bad, but I have had a couple that were pretty serious. One was when I was dumb enough to try and race a bike and lost control in 10 seconds. I cut up my knees pretty bad and my elbows. I went home covered in blood, but no major damage.  My last and worst accident happened at the end of last year. I was living in White Hall at the time. I was coming back from a ride on my green unicycle (the one with the big wheel) and I made it all the way back to the White courtyard and I fumbled a little bit before I could dismount properly. I fell forward and hit my hand on the ground and broke it. I had to get surgery to reset the bone and they had to put pins in. This put me out of commission for a few months. Not because I was scared, I just didn't want to make another mistake because of my injury and hurt myself further. But I did start riding again before I got my cast off; I missed riding too much, and walking everywhere sucks!

Tell me about the man behind the unicycle. What else are you involved with at JMU?

I spend a lot of my time at band. This is my third year on the Marching Royal Dukes drumline and my second year as the quad drum captain.

What Harry Potter house would you be in?

Well, the chemistry major part of me would probably be in Ravenclaw, but the social part of me would probably be a Hufflepuff!