UC Berkeley News


The unicyclist
Tom Holub

| 13 September 2006

In 2000, Tom Holub was promoted to a managerial position and found he had to attend meetings across campus. The new director of computing in the College of Letters and Science Deans' Office began considering ways to expedite getting around Berkeley. "I figured the unicycle would not only be quicker, but would also send a message about what kind of manager I would be," says Holub, explaining that he had never seen himself as a traditional, tie-wearing supervisor.

Tom Holub (inset by Deborah Stalford; large photo courtesy Tom Holub)
Riding around campus and town on his unicycle elicits questions and comments — some admiring, others just rude. He often hears, "Where's your other wheel?" Says Holub: "I tell them this is the other wheel."

Though Holub first learned to unicycle for practical reasons, it has become a primary form of recreation. He regularly takes his unicycle off-road, and is particularly attached to the redrock bike trails of southeastern Utah, having attended the Moab Mountain Unicycling Festival the past four springs. "Moab has some of the best mountain-biking trails in the world," says Holub. "And it's a great venue, because people who are still learning can ride with more experienced riders."

Another springtime diversion is the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Humboldt County. Holub has ridden in the 3-day, 38-mile race between Ferndale and Arcata three times, traveling across roads, sand dunes, and water to make it to the finish line on "Cyclops," the unicycle he's decked out for the occasion.

Holub rides eight different unicycles, each one built for use under specific conditions: a bigger wheel for long-distance rides, fatter tires to absorb off-road shocks, and so on. Though appreciative Cal students have called the unicyclist "hellatight" (that's a good thing), Holub wasn't seeking attention when he began unicycling. But, he points out, "it's appealing to make a statement that it's okay to be a little odd."

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