Quinn Clark 26 has a unique talent -- she can ride a unicycle
Quinn Clark ’26 has a unique talent — she can ride a unicycle
Lily Rantanen

A One-Wheel Commute

It’s not every day you ride a unicycle – unless you’re Quinn Clark
The Past
Quinn Clark started her unicycling journey the summer before ninth grade. Now, she rides to school daily (Lily Rantanen)

It is a common belief that unicycles should be left for circus performers and clowns. But according to Quinn Clark ‘26, anyone can ride a unicycle — and she proves this by riding hers to school every single day.

“I thought it would be really funny [to learn to ride a unicycle]. That was the main motivation,” Clark said.

That’s why, the summer after eighth grade, she bought a unicycle off of Amazon with the goal to learn how to ride it before she entered high school. And Clark doesn’t do anything by halves.

“I procrastinated on learning how to ride it for most of the summer,” Clark admitted. “But three weeks before school started, I was like, ‘I should probably start on this.’” 

She started her unicycle adventure by practicing an hour a day, slowly getting better as the weeks went by.

“At first, it was really hard, and then it got easier and easier,” Clark said, referring to the first few times she tried to ride her unicycle. 

On her ride home, Clark was stopped by Will Ferrell — but she didn’t know who he was (Lily Rantanen)
The Present

When the school year started, Clark realized that it was now or never. She started riding it to school daily, locking it in the bike rack during the day. It takes her about twenty minutes to get to school – slower than biking but faster than walking.

“A lot of people come up to me and say their parents know me because they see me when I’m going to school,” Clark said with a laugh. “And sometimes frat boys will yell at me from cars.”

But college students and her classmates’ parents aren’t the only people she’s run into on the commute.

As Clark was riding her unicycle home on a chilly spring afternoon, she noticed a cluster of people and a camera crew filming something in a neighbor’s yard. 

Anyone who was at City last year no doubt remembers the day City High alumnus Harper Steele and her friend, actor Will Ferrell, of classics like Elf, Anchorman, and, more recently, Barbie, came to Iowa City last March to talk to City’s GSA and film scenes for Ferrell and Steele’s documentary.

But Clark had no idea who either of them were. 

“Some guy came up to me and said ‘Hey, can she [Harper Steele] ride your unicycle?’” Clark remembered. “I shook his hand and he had just a pit for eyes. I thought he was glaring at me and it was terrifying.”

Normally, Clark wouldn’t let a random person try her unicycle. But, noticing the cameras, she figured that they wouldn’t be able to steal it very easily. So, begrudgingly, she let Steele ride her unicycle.

“I left, and the next day, everybody and their mom had a picture with the guy who asked if his friend could ride my unicycle,” Clark said. 

The Future
Quinn’s daily commute takes around 20 minutes: longer than a bike ride but shorter than a walk to school (Lily Rantanen)

It’s funny little things like that that make Clark not regret her decision to learn how to ride a unicycle. But there are bigger things in the works. 

“I’m learning tricks,” she said. “I want to be able to juggle and ride a unicycle at the same time.” 

It’s not all fun and games. Once, Clark injured her wrist while riding her unicycle.

“I got into a unicycle accident, which is a crazy thing to say,” she said, speaking of the time one of her pedals fell off. “It was painful.”

Falling off of her unicycle is not uncommon for beginners, according to Clark. The reason it happens is because of the way you steer – you have to tilt forward to go forward and turn towards the direction you move, but it’s hard to gauge how much to lean in the direction you want to move.

“Unicycle tires aren’t totally inflated, and they’re meant to be that way. So you can kind of twist or jump [to steer],” she said.

Getting off of a unicycle is a little more complicated.

“It’s hard to explain,” Clark said. “You’ve got to mess with the pedals and then you kind of stumble forward and jump off because there’s no brakes.” 

For beginners, Clark suggests watching videos of unicyclists on Youtube to get a sense of how to ride. According to Clark, Youtubers like JackoUni and PrettyGoodChannel have tutorials on how to ride a unicycle, and videos of semi-professional and professional unicyclists are helpful to learn too. 

“Wear a helmet. Lean forward. Don’t get a concussion,” Clark said. 

Though Clark only started to unicycle because she thought it would be a good joke, she’s found genuine enjoyment in her everyday commute. 

“I think it’s fun. More people should do it.”

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