In 2008 Kameron Mechling of Bluffton watched a TV ad featuring Kris Holmes, a famous male unicyclist. The commercial made it look like fun to ride a unicycle so Mechling felt encouraged to try.
Mechling, 16, borrowed a unicycle from a friend to practice with. It was small for him, but he got a feel for it and decided to purchase a taller one.
After researching websites, such as http://www.Unicycle.com, Mechling ordered a 24-inch unicycle on sale for $80.00. He received it as a Christmas gift from his parents and throughout the winter, Mechling practiced riding the unicycle in his family’s garage. He learned to do tricks such as “Bunny hopping” – jumping on his unicycle like it was a pogo stick. He also can ride backwards and is attempting to maneuver steps. “I can go down one step but hope to add an entire stairway,” he said. Mechling is even practicing the tricky art of jumping over a person while riding a unicycle. “I’m working on that,” he added.
Mechling has ridden his unicycle to school and on the streets around his home. “It is legal to be on the road with a unicycle,” he said. “It’s similar to riding a bicycle.” Mechling admits he should wear his helmet and kneepads for protection from falls, but doesn’t. “They’re around the house somewhere,” he said.
As Mechling became more proficient at riding the unicycle, he began teaching friends from high school — Elijah Coffield, Nick Rhodes, and Josh Jennings—how to ride. Besides Mechling’s 24-inch (the wheel is two feet in diameter) unicycle, he also purchased a 20-inch unicycle, which he allows his friends to ride. Coffield purchased his own 20-inch unicycle. Together with Coffield’s original 16-inch unicycle which inspired Mechling to begin riding, the friends ride throughout Bluffton and as far as the White Bridge at the end of Bluffton’s River Greenway.
They occasionally fall and have had some crashes as a result of losing their balance but no stitches have been needed. “A fall from a unicycle doesn’t hurt as much as from a bike,” explained Mechling. “The unicycle doesn’t have gears to get tangled up in like a bike does. When you fall from a unicycle, you can easily jump off instead of falling to the ground.”
He has been written about in the Bluffton High School newspaper. Mechling, who plays the trumpet for Bluffton High School’s concert band and the marimba for its marching band, encouraged interest in his pastime by riding the unicycle while playing a trumpet as part of a commercial for the school’s talent show. He can also hold a guitar, violin, rubrics cube and text while unicyling. “I use my abs for balance and hips to maneuver and steer,” he said.
When people ask Mechling if he’s ready to join the circus, he replies, “I’d like to attend college for worship ministry. But if that doesn’t work out, I can fall back on this.”
Reprinted with permission of the Bluffton News-Banner